Half the fun of taking a trip is in the planning: the excitement of first deciding where to go, the anticipation that builds while flipping through guidebooks, the ritual of bringing out your dusty suitcase and thinking about what to pack – these are the choices I love to make. One crucial part of planning, though, has always struck me with an intense and debilitating bout of indecision: booking the hotel.
Enter agoda.com, a mobile version of the hotel-booking website of the same name. The app is straightforward and efficient, with clear graphics that are easy to use. Choose a destination, enter the arrival date and number of nights required, and hit search. As an example, I looked at Berlin for two adults staying in one room for four nights and was rewarded with dozens of choices. Each option gives the hotel’s name and address, as well as price per night and actual customer reviews. I was impressed that the accompanying images were clear and bright, not fuzzy or grainy like other apps (or even websites) I’ve seen. Another plus is the “Filter” option, which gives the ability to choose according to neighborhood or preferred facilities, such as fitness rooms or car parks. The developers were also smart enough to realize that people prefer to know the price of things in their own currency, and thus you can also search in currencies ranging from the dirham to the dollar.
The only real downside of agoda.com is that one cannot sort by price: they only give the options of popularity, distance, star rating, review score, and hotel name. As a budget traveller, I don’t really have the time or wherewithal to sift through the $130/night options that kept popping up, and such an obvious oversight cost them a star and a half. This app is best for those planning something a bit more luxurious than a gap year spent bopping around hostels in Southeast Asia.
Of course, hotels can really make or break a holiday. (Cue grim memories of Jamaica, circa 2006. “Beachside” room actually half-hour’s drive away? Grumble, grumble.) agoda.com takes a lot of the pressure out of planning by making it easy and fun to choose – just be prepared to feel the pinch of those extra Czech koruna seeping out of your pocket.