The top 5 online travel agents for the best holiday deals


Updated on 21 September 2018 | 6 Comments

Online travel agents are plentiful these days, but which ones are actually trustworthy and have the best deals? Here's our expert view...

Gone are the days of popping down to your high street travel agent to find out how much that summer holiday will cost you. We’ve got information at our fingertips and today there are hundreds of online travel agents, some touting some truly exceptional deals. But it’s often hard to figure out what’s too good to be true and what’s not.

Keep your hard earned holiday money safe by following this guide to the best travel booking websites and online travel agents.

1. Lastminute.com

Why we rate it: This all-encompassing online travel agent has been a trusted booking service since 1998, and with over 18,000 reviews its Trustpilot score is excellent. You can book flights, hotels, packages, theatre trips, experiences and Eurostar journeys through Lastminute.com.

The holiday search results are the most sophisticated of all the online travel agents in this list. They’re displayed in three sections: on the far left is where you apply filters, the middle shows the trip information (hotel, price and flights included) with a photograph, and the right-hand side is a map. Hotels are highlighted on the map as you hover over them in the middle section, meaning you can easily find the right location for your trip. Plus, as you navigate the map, the hotel results update to show only the properties you can see in that area.

Top tip: The site also offers ‘top secret’ hotels deals – you won’t know which hotel you’re booking until you’ve paid, but will be guaranteed a certain level of service (usually 4 or 5-stars) and offered an indication of where it’s located. The ‘Inspire Me’ search function is brilliant if you’re not sure where to go – choose your type of holiday (spa, beach, exotic, city break), the total price for your party and your departure point and you’ll be shown packages in a variety of destinations that fit the bill.

ATOL protected: Yes
Trustpilot score: 4/5

READ MORE: The 15 best UK websites for travel deals & holiday discounts

2. Opodo

Why we rate it: Opodo is part of ODIGEO, Europe’s largest online travel company. One of the best things about this site is they allow you to split your journey across different airlines to ensure you get the best deals – and there are more than 575 airlines to compare, meaning you’re unlikely to miss out on a bargain.

You can filter results based on your outbound flight or your inbound, which means you can opt to go direct one way and have a layover on the way back (or vice versa). You can search multi-stop flights, which is ideal if you want to book in a stopover in somewhere like Dubai or Reykjavik (here’s our guide to stopovers).

Booking a stopover, such as Reykjavik? Opodo could be the best choiceEvelyn Paris/Unsplash

When booking hotels, individual hotel pages open in a new tab so your results stay open and you can return to them anytime, you can view all the hotels on map to check location, and filter by price, breakfast included, hotel brand, location, facilities (including accessibility features) and star/customer rating.

Top tip: Opodo also offer shuttle and transfer booking between hotels and the airport.

ATOL protected: Yes
Trustpilot score: 4/5

3. eDreams

Why we rate it: Part of the same group as Opodo – and using extremely similar search functions and results – eDreams sells the basic package: flights, hotels and car hire. The website is simple to use and when searching for flights it highlights the smartest choice, based on value for money, the airports in each destination, baggage and number of stops. It also highlights the cheapest, fastest and those with checked baggage included.

You can even filter results by checked-in baggage, too, meaning you’ll never accidentally purchase a hand luggage-only flight (god forbid). They offer a price guarantee on flights, though the criteria is strict.

Top tip: Watch out for the “don’t wait” pop-up, which is simply an attempt to apply pressure to buy and can be ignored – it’s rare your holiday will ever actually sell out within minutes of your search.

ATOL protected: Yes
Trustpilot score: 4/5

READ MORE: 30 secrets travel agents know that you don’t

4. On The Beach

Why we rate it: Over 60% of people rated their experience with On The Beach as excellent on Trustpilot and in 2017 the website won the Feefo Trusted Service Award. The website offers a basic set of booking tools for flights and hotels.

Its search isn’t as sophisticated as some, as filters are quite basic and the ‘view on map’ option is hidden away in the top right-hand corner of results, so On The Beach is best for those who know what they want, rather than anyone looking for inspiration.

Top tip: One key option offered by On The Beach, though, is the option to pay for your holiday in instalments after putting down a low deposit. They also offer extras such as car hire, airport lounge booking, transfers and parking.  

ATOL protected: Yes
Trustpilot rating: 4/5

You too could be basking on the beach having bagged a dealRicardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash

5. Expedia

Expedia is a household name in the travel booking world and probably one of the most popular online travel agents, but its Trustpilot rating doesn’t reflect this. Thousands of people have taken to the website to express their discontent with booking and customer services, so if you’re looking for a smooth process this one might be best avoided.

That said, plenty of people have had good experiences and the website is widely used (it receives more than 10 million visits a month) mean it can still offer competitively priced deals. 

Top tip: In addition to booking for flights, hotels, car hire, activities, apartment rentals you can even book train trips within the UK.

ATOL protected: Yes
Trustpilot rating: 1/5

Lead image: Marion Michelle/Unsplash

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