If at all possible, I stay in a vacation rental, rather than a hotel. You can get a kitchen, living room and bedroom for the price of a hotel room, and often less. There are exceptions, and you'll find those on specific destination pages on this site.
I love a kitchen because it's always nice to have some food and drinks handy. But, when traveling with children, it's essential. I require a separate bedroom for everyone's sake. My husband can stay up later watching sports, while my son and I go to sleep.
I started renting vacation homes before sites like Airbnb and HomeAway existed. However, these well-known sites now reach far away places. But, if you're looking in an area where you're not finding many options, try looking at the local government and tourist sites for listings.
HomeAway Family (Includes HomeAway, VRBO, VacationRentals.com, Homelidays, OwnersDirect, Abritel HomeAway, FeWo-Direkt, Toprural, bookabach, Stayz, Alugue Temporada)
Southern California, USA
For hotels, or packages with flights and/or cars, I prefer websites that offer discounts.