Google has quite a few web services tucked away behind the gargantuan white search facade. Some we are aware of. Some like the Google Hotel Finder need a directional prod. Google Hotel Finder is still tagged as ‘experimental’ but the promise is in its potential for the habitual traveler who wants to quickly search for a hotel.
Granted, a lot of the popular travel portals have similar features, but if you live and die by Google, you will like the way Google Hotel Finder has been neatly packaged. The service is limited to hotels in the US though.
Google Hotel Finder starts off like the usual search with a location. The dropdown auto-suggests locations for you. Search results get immediately displayed with snippets of information like – Hotel Class; User Rating; Price per night; and Compared to typical.
The first novel feature is that you can restrict your search to a particular area by drawing a shape on a Google Map of the area. You can draw multiple shapes on the map. Hotels located within the shape are indicated by blue dots on the map. The ones outside are shown by grayed out dots. For instance, you can draw a shape near the airport.
Adjust the filters on the left column. You can use the slider to filter out hotels outside your budget. A very useful feature for the budget conscious traveler is the slider (Compared to hotel’s typical price) that gives you hotels whose current tariffs may be below the historical averages.
Click on a result to see the information displayed inline, neatly within the same frame. You can read the reviews and add it to a shortlist with a single click. The interior photos really help to firm up your decision. You can easily compare two hotels on your shortlist using the photos and the details.
You still can’t book hotels using Google’s service. Google Hotel Finder directs you to sites like Booking.com, Priceline, Expedia, and Travelocity or to the hotel’s own site.
Google Hotel Finder still lacks the information richness of Bing Travel (for ex. the Amenities section) and its bundle of integrated travel and deals resources. Plus, the fact that Bing Travel is international in scope. But Google Hotel Finder as an experiment is a neat compact start. It could be the prelude to the take-off.