At AT we are infected by the Melbourne Cup Day Spirit and rate the field of accommodation websites in what we are calling the AT Stakes. It’s the form guide to the best accommodation websites. By Quentin Long

Wotif

Commands respect and deserved favourite. Interestingly we have not actually booked anything through wotif for some time. Great for research as there is nothing better for a comprehensive understanding of accommodation options and prices. When push comes to shove we shove off to another site – usually the operators.

Be smart: Wotif is not necessarily the best price in the market.

AT Rating: Higly fancied and hard to overlook, but not as good value as it seems.

Lastminute

A stalwart of this race and always figures in the end but fades when the numbers are compared. Pioneers of the secret hotel probably best suited to other travel. Not really an option in the domestic accommodation race.

Be Smart: Their newsletter can be worthwhile.

AT Rating: Outside place chance, a real roughie.

Expedia

Like many of the international entrants in the race, they lack Australian form with very limited local inventory. Their real strength lies in international bundling and leveraging the traffic of Tripadvisor.com.

Be Smart: Not the first choice in this field.

AT Rating: Outclassed in this field.

Hotels.com

Stablemate of Expedia and very focussed on this particular type of race – accommodation. The local offering has been limited however a load of hard work as been going on in the background and may show better form this time around.

Be Smart: May be worth a look every know and then

AT Rating: Well worth an each way

HotelClub

An old favourite with locals seems to have lost its way with the more fancied Wotif taking out the last three years. The membership rewards for bookings is a nice idea however when it comes to rates it can struggle up against Wotif.

Be Smart: Always worth a look but it is agonisingly slow.

AT Rating: Proven winner who’s best racing is behind it, good each way bet

NeedItNow

Form the much fancied AOT stable of winners but not in the overall accommodation websites class. Does have a range of products but doesn’t show the form to overcome the leaders.

Be Smart: Hold off until it shows better form

AT Rating: True outsider

Zuji

Suffers the same fate as other foreign raiders Expedia and Hotels.com, doesn’t have local form or inventory. Could improve but needs a lot more focus

Be Smart: For international only

AT Rating: Lucky to place

Mr&Mrs Smith

Members stand favourite specialises in the Dirty Weekend Away but not much else. Only for the big money spenders.

Be Smart: Great research, go direct.

AT Rating: Dirty Weekend Specialist, outclassed in this field

Rates To Go

Stablemate of HotelClub and meant to address the last minute market dominated by Wotif. Has the credentials but not the form.

Be Smart: Not much value.

AT Rating: Each way at best.