The Independent published their list of 50 Best Travel Websites last week. At the time, I was off exploring Misiones, northern Argentina, so this is a belated catch-up.
As some readers have pointed out on the Twitter, it’s frustrating that the online version isn’t accessible as a straight list and instead you have to click through 50 times. I think it’s worth a couple of minutes of effort though.
The list was curated by travel writer Rhiannon Batten, with input from Mr & Mrs Smith‘s Juliet Kinsman, Pat Riddell from National Geographic Traveller, TravMedia‘s Howard Salinger, my one-time boss, Time Out‘s Ruth Jarvis, and me. Here are the sites I put forward for inclusion that made the final cut.
Unusualhotelsoftheworld.com – Bringing together treehouses, igloos and coverted trams, this is a fun site that’s worth exploring, even if you’re not planning to go anywhere. An interesting, imaginative hotel can really make a trip and become primary reason for choosing a specific destination. I have been a fan of this site for a long time and have watched it grow.
OneFineStay.com – This cleverly named site matches up paying travellers with out-of-town Londoners. Not only do you get to stay in their plush pad, you also benefit from the services of a hotel, including a concierge that will ride to your door by scooter. I have been impressed with this site from the offset. It currently has a narrow focus (just London), but I can see it growing to expand into other countries. I also like it because I hate to see properties in the centre of a city lie empty.
HotelHaiku.com – Hotels reviews by haiku sounds painfully pretentious, but one of the main motivations is to strip down the overwhelming amount of information we are bombarded with in hotel searches. That means no user-generated content, just a few words and some lovely pictures. Even more unusual is that the site has set opening hours, closing at night and on Sundays, in an attempt to defeat the content scrapers and copycats. Any travel bods on Twitter would have seen this one circulating like mad when it first launched, amid a whirlwind of praise. I wasn’t convinced at first and I still think I’d probably want more than a haiku to base my booking on. But then I thought some more and I do admire someone who is bucking trends, turning their back to Google, and making us question our internet habits.
Hipmunk.com – I included this one before the company started putting adverts everywhere you look online (a la Groupon). I like the fact it gives you an overview of prices and possible routes. You may not choose to book through it, but it’s a interesting first port of call. (As a side note, I was on the easyJet website this week for the first time in ages and I very much like the fact that it has a three-day view, a three-week view and a year view of possible prices, thus catering for the needs of spontaneous and long-term/flexible travellers. It may have had this for ages, but it’s been a while since I booked a European flight and I would like to see this feature on more airline sites.)
80trains.com – This was a more niche, personal addition to the transport category. I love overland travel and would have welcomed the tips on this site for a rail trip I once did across South India.
Tripbod.com – Another site of which I have been a long-term fan, both now and in its previous form as YourSafePlanet.com. For a small fee, Tripbod gets someone in-situ to plan your trip and divulge local knowledge. A great idea for saving time and getting bespoke advice. I notice I wasn’t the only panelist to tip this one.
101holidays.co.uk – I love the clarity of this site and it’s also fun to use. When you want a break but aren’ t sure where, just put in your favourite style of holiday and price range, then let it do the rest.
GREEN & ETHICAL TRAVEL
Greentraveller.co.uk – Another site I’ve admired for ages. Going stronger than ever since its redesign. Packed with inspirational trips and reviews on green places to stay.
Couchsurfing – This was my most predictable inclusion. I wanted to draw attention to the new-look events page that makes it easy to see who is organising social meet-ups in the area you are visiting.