If I’m not travelling or writing about the last one, I’m always busy dreaming about, planning, researching and organising the next adventure. Whilst I love browsing images on Pinterest and perusing articles on travel blogs about places I want to go, and even deciding exactly which sights and activities I will build into my itinerary at each destination, the one thing that seems to rob hours of my time and often ends up being a proverbial pain in the arse is finding a place to stay.
I will flit between Hostelbookers, Hostelworld, Booking.com, Airbnb and Trip Advisor, using browser bookmarks and making notes (the old fashioned way – in a notebook) as I go along. I’ll have 101 tabs open (ok, slight exaggeration but you catch my drift?) and pages upon pages of scribbles that made perfect sense at the time of writing.
The problem with finding accommodation is that it can make or break a stay sometimes. We want our temporary home to have atmosphere, character, friendly and helpful staff, free breakfast, a handy central location, fast wifi, and a bunch of amenities to boot. Easily comparing this many variables can be a tricky business.
Yonderbound is a new accommodation-booking website whose name I’d heard being mentioned rather a lot lately in the travel blogging community. It had been described as a kind of Pinterest for hotel bookings. This immediately peaked my interest. Was this somewhere I could pin – and easily compare – different accommodation options?
I then noticed that they were looking for beta testers – with a little monetary incentive thrown in for doing so. I was sold!
What I Like About Yonderbound
Ok, ok, I know this requires an explanation. Basically a Yonderbox is like your very own travel scrapbook where you can pin (yes, much like Pinterest) hotels, hostels and apartments, together with notes about each one. You can choose to keep these Yonderboxes private or to share them with other Yonderbound users. What’s more, your Yonderbox isn’t just saved for the duration of a browsing session; it stays there permanently unless you decide to delete it. This allows you to plan now and book later.
Rather than flipping backwards and forwards between tabs, Yonderboxes allow you to organise all your potential accommodation options in one place, and to easily compare them. You can also edit your Yonderboxes as often as you like as you narrow down your choices (everything from the cover image to the name, description, notes and accommodation choices; you can even delete Yonderboxes all together and start afresh).
You can also browse through other peoples’ Yonderboxes to give you inspiration and information about a particular destination.
Here are a few of the Yonderboxes I’ve created:
It’s linked to Trip Advisor
Yes, that’s right, you can view the Trip Advisor rating (as well as read Trip Advisor reviews) for a property without having to visit the Trip Advisor website.
That’s a definite win in my book.
Of course, a visually stunning design hotel might look perfect in all the photographs, but we also want to know what it’s actually like to stay there. Does the ‘free wifi’ they advertise actually work? What are the staff like? Do they speak good English? How effective is the heating/air con? What does the free breakfast actually consist of? (because I’ve had everything from dry bread and instant luke-warm coffee to an enticing spread of freshly baked bread, meats, cheeses, eggs, fruits, cereals, speciality teas, juices, and real brewed coffee). It’s also useful to find out information about the area in which the property is situated, if there are cafes and bars nearby, and what the transport links are like – all aspects that are covered in user reviews on Trip Advisor.
When searching for properties in a particular city, you can also filter by Trip Advisor review score.
Prices include all taxes and fees
There are no booking fees, cleaning fees or security deposits. The price you see is the price you pay, and I like that – a lot.
You can earn Yondercredits to use for your own travels
Now, this works slightly differently to standard loyalty programs. You don’t earn points every time you make a booking, but rather you earn credits every time another traveller makes a booking through one of your Yonderboxes.
This essentially means that Yonderbound are encouraging their users to share their favourite places and with other travellers, which in turn helps to build a better travel community across the globe. Another win.
For any hotel booking made through one of your Yonderboxes, 70% of the net revenue is credited back to you in Yondercredits. I’ve already had a notification that a user has booked one of my Barcelona recommendations.
Because let’s be honest, whilst it may be a great travel planning resource, we’re not going to stick around and book our hotel stays through Yonderbound if the prices are considerably higher than its competitors (even in spite of the Yondercredits incentive).
Now obviously I haven’t compared prices against all of Yonderbound’s 383,693 property listings (because that would be insane), but I chose a selection of the hostels, apartments and hotels that appear in my Budget Stays in Europe Yonderbox, comparing prices against Booking.com, Hostelworld and Hostelbookers, which are the main booking sites I normally tend to use.
I found Yonderbound to be on par or cheaper than these alternative options.
You can filter your accommodation search by neighbourhood or landmark
This feature saves a ton of time and hassle if you know exactly which part of any given city you want to be based in.
For example rather than simply searching for properties in London, I can search for properties near to Shoreditch or Camden, or close to the Natural History Museum. By clicking on the little globe icon underneath the search box I can also view the locations of these properties on a map. Hovering the mouse over each little purple circle will give me the name of that particular property, clicking once will give me the price and Trip Advisor rating, and clicking again will allow me to view the accommodation listing in more detail.
The only downside I can see at the moment is that Yonderbound won’t always recognise the neighbourhood or landmark that you ask it to find. For example when I was searching for properties within Cusco, I knew I wanted to search in and around the artisan quarter, San Blas. However when I typed ‘San Blas, Cusco’ into the search box, all that Yonderbound found were accommodation listings in Cusco with San Blas in their name. Ok, so that’s a pretty good indication that they’re going to be in San Blas, but you never know!
What Doesn’t Work so Well
Accommodation search must include specific dates.
When I plan my travels I usually find the cheap flights and accommodation first of all and then book the time off work, because that makes a lot more sense to me. So having the ability to search via flexible dates, or even better with no date constraints whatsoever, would allow me to plan trips that I don’t have a solid itinerary for.
I often found myself continually altering dates in order to see a different choice of hotels. I’d much prefer to be able to view all the properties Yonderbound list at a particular destination, and then to be able to check whether my chosen hotel is available during a specific date period.
Not many budget and hostel accommodations available
I’m sure this will change as the site grows (I have to keep reminding myself it’s still in beta) but when I set up my Yonderbox Budget Stays in Europe (which I’d decided would include accommodation options priced under £50 per night per room) I struggled to fill it. I love staying in hostels (although I usually choose private rooms over dorms) so it would be great to see more of these on the site.
Accommodation options restricted to major cities
Again, I’m sure this will also change as the site grows (its total number of listings is still couple of hundred thousand shy of Booking.com), but I drew a blank on quite a few of my searches under what I would consider to be reasonably popular tourist destinations.
Yes I realise that when you start to get off the beaten track a lot of the major booking sites tend to fail anyway (that’s when I turn to my trusty Lonely Planet guidebook), but I was quite disappointed to find that Bolivia’s beautiful capital city, Sucre, returned no results at all.
No option to find out (or choose) what type of dorm room you are booking in hostels
I appreciate that there are only a small quantities of hostels listed at present, and ok I don’t personally book dorm rooms very often, but when I do I want to know whether it’s a 4-bed dorm or a 24-bed dorm. It makes a lot of difference! It would also be useful to know whether we are booking a mixed or single-sex room, and even better to be given the choice.
Like I mentioned previously the site is still in beta so many of these kinks are still being ironed out as we speak, and personally I still think the good points far outweigh the bad.
Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think. And be sure to check out my Yonderboxes.
Yonderbound are also offering a $25 Yonderbound welcome credit to put towards your first booking 🙂
**This post is part of a collaboration with Yonderbound. However Yonderbound had no control over its content; I have spent hours upon hours testing the site in order to give you my full and honest opinions**