What is the best alternative to Booking.com in Russia ?
Among the many Western sanctions on Russia, the world famous Booking.com suspended their operations in the country, meaning you can’t find a single hotel even in touristy Moscow or Saint Petersburg.
So how will we foreign travellers book our hotel rooms from now on ?
At the time of writing, mid march 2022, no hotels nor guesthouses within Russia appears on Booking.com. Like many tourists wordwide, I’m very used to book all my accomodations on the website/app. The best alternative to Booking.com in Russia is Ostrovok.ru.
Last updated : 06/11/2022
The alternative to Booking.com in Russia
Ostrovok.ru is the best alternative to Booking.com in Russia in my opinion.
The Russian made hotel reservation platform was launched a bit more than a decide ago and is the first online hotel booking platform in the country – I didn’t even know because I never looked any further than Booking.com to be honest.
The platform has many languages versions included English, Spanish, Portuges, German & French.
Because it’s the main hotel booking platform in Russia, most hotels, guesthouses & short term rental flats can be found. You can also choose the currency and prices will appear at the rate of the day in euros, dollars, pounds or whatever currency you selected.
How to book online if visa/mastercard aren’t operating ?
I spoke to the Ostrovok customer service via Telegram (you can contact them also on Messenger & by email). A bot answered at first but I asked to speaking to an English speaking staff and a couple of minutes later a woman with perfect english answered me.
Just like Booking.com, some hotels charge you automatically, some don’t. Those ones, you can book online without a bank card and pay on the spot when you check-in.
The lady from Ostrovok told me that “If the hotel charge your visa/mastercard, they will do so in rubles not euros”. Meaning what? I’m not so sure to be honest, but not all Russian banks are sanctionned so technically they can charge a non Russian bank card. However you better watch out that your bank doesn’t overcharge you a percentage for paying in Russia …
She continued saying that “if you wish to pay in euros with your visa/mastercard you should book on Zenhotels.com”.
Zenhotels is the European Cypriot branch of Ostrovok, but I checked and in far away corners of Russia, there aren’t any accomodation registered. If you plan to travel off the beaten tracks, Ostrovok it is.
Summary of all thes explanations : Book a hotel on Ostrovok.ru, make sure it’s one you can pay on arrival and when you check in, just pay cash.
That’s actually how I always booked and pay all my accomodations all around Russia, even before the sanctions. Small hotels/guesthouses in some parts of Russia aren’t used to have foreigners staying and if you book/pay online, they pay have to register you to the local police office. Lots of paperworks so it’s annoying for them. Understandable.
Looking for a short term rental flat ?
Airbnb is also not operating in Russia anymore. There was plenty of flats available on Booking.com, and the owners will – if not already done – registered on Ostrovok, so you can just book a short term rental place on the platform.
Tips to book on online
Just like Booking.com, Ostrovok has a loyalty program, you can get benefits like discounts, upgrades and special offers.
Let me know in the comments if you found this post useful & don’t hesitate if you have any questions !