Need a hotel in a remote location? Check Google Hotels.


Have you ever wanted to book a stay in a remote area and struggled to find accommodation options? Either nothing shows up on OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) like or anything that does appear in search results is super expensive. Airbnb, Vrbo, Vacasa, etc. have nothing or are too pricey too. Well, there’s another tool that’s worth having in your belt – Google Hotels.

This might seem a little strange because Google Hotels is, effectively, an OTA itself. However, it seems to have a wider array (or, at the very least, a different selection) of hotels and motels at its disposal when displaying search results. This is particularly true when it comes to independent hotels.

Example 1 – Orr, MN

Last summer my wife visited the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary in Orr, MN. That’s because for her birthday she’d been gifted a black bear photography experience where you get to be on the ground with them rather than on the upper platforms which is where regular visitors to the wildlife sanctuary view them.

If you’ve never heard of Orr (we hadn’t before hearing about the sanctuary), it’s in northeast Minnesota, about 55 miles from the border with Canada. It’s a fairly rural area, with the closest mass of chain hotels being in Hibbing – about 50 miles south. Her photography experience was due to start at something like 6:30am, so having an hour’s drive there, a long day photographing bears and then an hour-long drive back wouldn’t have been ideal.

Finding somewhere to stay closer by was problematic too. There weren’t any chain hotels in Orr, while very few options showed up on We had the added factor of needing somewhere pet-friendly and were booking only 2-3 months before the stay, so all that was left were properties costing several hundred bucks per night. I checked Airbnb, Vrbo, Vacasa, etc. in case they were any more competitively priced home rental options available, but alas – nothing within our budget.

I think I ended up Googling something like ‘Orr MN hotels’ or ‘Orr MN motels’ which led me to Google Hotels. This displayed several options that hadn’t appeared when searching other sites like

Google Hotels search results in Orr, MN

Finding pricing for some of these properties can be a little convoluted which I’ll get into in the ‘Quirks’ section below. One of the options looked perfect for what we needed though – Norman’s Motel.

It was pet-friendly, only 15 minutes from the wildlife sanctuary and, most importantly, was only ~$75 per night (our road trip budget is a total of $125 per day for everything). I had to end up calling to make the reservation as they don’t take bookings online, but it all worked out perfectly.

The accommodation was good value for what we paid. While the room was dated-looking, it was clean, comfortable and safe. There was also a great little BBQ joint just up the road where we grabbed dinner, with the motel having a general store attached for other items you might need. While Shae was off on her photography experience, I was able to get some work done from our room as the motel had decent Wi-Fi.

Our room at Norman's Motel in Orr, MN
Our room at Norman’s Motel in Orr, MN

Example 2 – Road To Alaska

This is the 7th and final year of our road trip and in May we’re driving up to Alaska for six weeks or so. Finding somewhere to stay in Alaska itself hasn’t proven to be too much of an issue thanks to Hyatt and Airbnb, but the drive up there has been a different matter at times.

The drive up there is ~2,000 miles to our first main stop in Alaska. We’re breaking the drive up over the course of a week or so in order to only drive 6-8 hours per day, with a couple of work days staying in one place mixed in. There’s a handful of chain properties in some cities, but the further north you get the fewer and fewer options you get showing up on sites like Airbnb has some options, but those aren’t plentiful either – especially when having to filter for pet-friendly options.

Once again, Google Hotels has come in handy a couple of times. For example, let’s say you want to stay in Watson Lake in the Yukon, Canada on the way to or from Alaska. This is the comprehensive list of properties displayed on for a random date this summer (this isn’t even filtered for pet-friendly):

Hotelsdotcom Watson Lake Yukon options

Meanwhile, here are just some of the options that you can find listed on Google Hotels. Again, ascertaining the pricing for these options involves a little bit of work, but it’s great to have something to work with.

Watson Lake Yukon hotel motel options

Other Google Hotels Features

Similar to other hotel booking sites, Google Hotels has a number of filters you can use to refine the search results. That includes property type, price, guest rating, amenities, etc.

Google Hotels Amenities filter

A suggestion I have is that it’s worth checking results both with and without filtering for certain amenities. I’m guessing (but am far from certain) that these properties update their Google listings themselves. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some hotels that have a certain amenity you’re looking for, but that it’s not specifically listed on Google and so they won’t show up in filtered search results.

For example, perhaps a motel didn’t offer Wi-Fi when they first started being listed on Google Hotels, but now have something like Starlink service that they’re able to offer guests. If they forget to update their listing, it means filtering for ‘Wi-Fi’ will exclude them from search results, whereas clicking through to their website from an unfiltered list could show that they do offer Wi-Fi after all.

Similarly, if you need a hotel that’s pet-friendly and the filtered results offer slim pickings, try clicking through to websites from an unfiltered list. Hotels aren’t always great with that kind of thing; in fact, even major sites like sometimes exclude pet-friendly properties from filtered search results even when they let you bring your dog.

Google Hotels Quirks

OK, so I’ve covered some of the benefits of using Google Hotels to book hotels and motels, but it’s also important to mention some of its quirks.

Searching The Correct City

When you start typing in a city name on regular hotel sites, it’ll usually start showing a list of cities called that and their corresponding state. For example, if you type in ‘Portland’ on IHG’s website, it’ll give you the cities in Oregon, Maine, Indiana and Texas to choose from, along with the Portland airports in Oregon and Australia.

Google Hotels meanwhile will do something somewhat similar, but not exactly the same. As you can see in the screenshot below, three of the first five options don’t specify which Portland you’d be searching for.

Google Hotels Portland

A similar thing happened the other week when I searched for ‘Watson Lake’ on the way up to Alaska. The first two options showed results for Watson Lake in Arizona, while the fourth showed Watson Lake in Alaska rather than the Watson Lake we wanted for the Yukon in Canada.

Google Hotels Watson Lake

It’s therefore worth including a qualifier with your search for many cities, like a state, region or country, to help ensure you’re given results for the location you need rather than accidentally booking a stay somewhere else entirely.

How To Find Pricing Via Google Hotels

If you’re doing a search in major cities, Google Hotels will usually display the pricing for all hotel options as it’ll be listing properties from major chains and other properties that show up on OTAs.

When searching in more remote areas though, that’s not the case. These (primarily) independent hotels and motels only display pricing on their own website which Google isn’t able to pull into its results. That means you have to go directly to each website to see how much they charge for your dates.

Let’s use the motel we stayed at in Orr as an example. In the search results, click on the property listing.

Google Hotels Norman's Motel

If you click on the ‘View Prices’ button you’ll see that it can’t show you the pricing and that you should contact the hotel.

Google Hotels Norman's Motel pricing

If you then click on the ‘Overview’ tab, that’ll provide the hotel’s address and phone number in case you want to give them a call. In many cases though, it’ll also provide a link to the property’s website, so I always click through to see if they either show the flat rate pricing for a room or if they have their own online reservation option.

Google Hotels Norman's Motel details

Sure enough, when clicking through to the website for Norman’s One Stop & Motel you can click on the ‘Motel and RV’ menu option to see pricing. With this particular property, they didn’t provide an option to book online, so I had to call to make the reservation.

Google Hotels Norman's Motel pricing for motel & RV

Things aren’t always that (relatively) straightforward though. Sometimes properties don’t have a website, so you’ll have to simply give them a call. For example, Cozy Nest Bed & Breakfast in Watson Lake, Canada doesn’t have its own site, so you have to call to have any idea as to what their pricing will be and to book a stay.

Google Hotels Cozy Nest Bed & Breakfast

In some cases you might have another option. If you don’t see a website listed for the hotel or motel you might be interested in, do a separate Google search for it. Although they might not have a website, they do sometimes have a Facebook page through which you can contact them. That can be particularly useful if you hate making phone calls, or if the hotel is overseas and there might be a time difference and/or language barrier that could make calling more tricky, not to mention the possible expense of calling overseas.

Your Experiences

Have you used Google Hotels before to help find accommodation where OTAs were coming up short? Do you have any tips and tricks for other ways to use Google Hotels? Let us know in the comments below.

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This along with searching Trip Advisor reviews for a city/area are a great way to find independent hotels not part of the chains that don’t show up elsewhere.

Can’t speak to abroad but in the US a lot of these small motels and independent BnBs/boutique properties are very cognizant of having good reviews on Google Maps or Trip Advisor to bring in business. We stayed at the Colonial Motel in Manistique, MI a few years ago and it’s very similar to Norman’s in Orr, MN – right down to the wood paneling, phone only reservations, and Grandma’s quilted bed comforters! But it was clean and very cost effective, even had some larger rooms with 3 or 4 beds that could sleep a family of 5 – 8 for only $20 more a night. The owner had free donut holes and coffee in the mornings and encouraged Google reviews to help other travelers find his motel.

For the upper Midwest I’ve found Wyndham AmericInn properties to be your best bet for a good stay with a chain in the larger towns, but these motels can offer better value if you can find a good one.

Alex King

I feel like the quality of Norman’s Motel has sharply, very sharply declined since the son took over his mom’s business. The Bates Motel was to die for.


I use Google Hotels all the time. We often road trip in the west and stay in smaller towns. I use Google Hotels to see which chains are in a particular area–and usually there’s a Holiday Inn Express, a Hampton Inn and maybe one or two others. Then I can go to the chains’ websites for pricing and award availability. It saves me some search time.


I guess I just thought everyone knew how to search “nearby” hotels on Google Maps. To me it is a great way to spot BnB-type properties however I also hate that when searching for hotels in larger cities. The results get polluted with every run-down apartment in town at times. Still a good blog post though.


I tested this out with a small town in Greece, because from my experience in Europe, most hotels are listed with (if they’re online at all), and other sites (, Citi’s and Capital One’s travel portals) offer a fraction ranging from “some” to “none” of what offers.

Google Hotels seemed about the same as the others in that it shows a fraction of what offers. For one hotel I picked on Google Hotels, it actually listed as the cheapest option for booking the hotel online, and was actually slightly more expensive than when I found the hotel searching first through

One “advantage” Google Hotels had was that it shows hotels which aren’t bookable online, but this is basically the same you’d see by using Google Maps and searching for “hotels”. No pricing in those cases though, and not even any contact info, which I’m guessing you could at least get searching via Google Maps if you wanted to call and ask.

Points Adventure

I echo for indie hotels, and Google Maps for the truly middle of nowhere.


I have notices that Google hotels takes a lot computing resources. My browser slows down if I open a few Google hotels tabs for more than a few minutes.


That’s not very normal. Sounds like an internet bandwidth or computer RAM issue. There could be some settings on your browser as well. It might slow it down a bit but it shouldn’t be super slow.


As a tech guy, it’s possible that the site really is wrecking one’s computer in an unfair way. As a similar example, I don’t use google chat in Gmail, but looking at my browser task manager over the past couple years it was constantly eating 20%+ of my RAM with a few Gmail tabs open (and 400 other non-gmail tabs). Pretty terrible cost for something I wasn’t using, I had to redirect to in my etc/hosts file. Fixed it. CONCLUSION: I recommend that op check the actual resource usage in their browser task manager, the site could be eating up crazy amounts of memory.

Last edited 3 months ago by justin

I actually use Google Hotels often in big cities too. If there are 200 hotels in NYC, but you want to stay in a specific area, I like that Google Hotel can display all hotels in that area and then I can click around to see which chains and properties are available (then do an award search to compare it to cash prices).

The one filter I think Google Hotels is missing is the ability to filter for airport shuttles. They have a lot of filters, but not for airport shuttles 🙁