Twenty five years ago, my husband and I started travelling globally and have learned more than a few lesson over the years. In my early years, I just used a service like Expedia to make my reservations. In Europe, I sometimes use Booking.com. Most commonly, I use actual hotel websites which definitely matched prices. Yes, I do still use Leading Hotels of World for certain reservations.
One of the things I have learned is email the hotel in advance NO matter who you make reservation through. Tonight I had an excellent exchange with the hotel we are staying at in Lisbon. We had a standard room booked through Booking.com and we really wanted to upgrade the room even though it was not available via their website. We went back and forth and I think we are getting the perfect room for us.
Emailing a hotel in advance shows your interest. For example, I have arthritis and a bathtub and extra pillows are a must. Making these request in advance make life SO much easier. You also build a relationship with the hotel before you arrive especially if you are staying for multiple days as we usually do.
Over the long years, we have got some incredible rooms in hotels just because I took the extra time to contact the hotel in advance. THIS is so much easier than getting a disappointing room to begin with and asking to be moved. I have never found a good hotel that wasn't willing to discuss the room choices before I arrived nor not willing to make special requests I have made.
Just a hint that might make your stay at your next hotel even better. Yours, Claudia