Touring a new city is exciting, but figuring out where to stay there can be quite daunting. To help you with that, I’ve come up with a handy guide to walk you through the process of choosing a hotel. I have listed down important factors to consider, as well as mistakes I made that you must avoid.
Start by determining what’s important to you.
How to choose a good hotel should not be the question here. It’s how to choose the right hotel for you. Think about your non-negotiables. Is access to the Internet something you can’t live without? For me, it’s privacy. I don’t mind having a small room as long as I’m the only one in it. For our claustrophobic friends, it can be the size of the hotel room. Being in a space smaller than 325 square feet might make them feel uncomfortable. The best hotel is the hotel that’s right for you.
After deciding what you need, think about what you want. Perhaps there are certain aesthetics you lean toward or avoid. It wouldn’t hurt to check the geography of the place you’re traveling to. When I’m on a city trip, I book hotels that offer a view of the urban night lights. If I’m going to somewhere more coastal or mountainous, I stay in reputable hotels where I feel safer.
How To Choose A Hotel
1. Read hotel reviews.
I once stayed in a hotel that looked nothing like the pictures they advertised. This is why checking reviews from other sources is necessary. Review sites are way dependable than the hotel’s website. If I want to weigh the pros and cons of a hotel, I check it on Oyster.com. Reliable sites like Booking.com and Tripadvisor also provide unbiased reviews from real guests. If a hotel scores 9 out of 10 stars on Booking.com and 4 out of 5 stars on Tripadvisor, it’s safe to say it’s good. Make sure to also read the negative reviews. This will warn or give you a clue on what the flaws of the hotel are.
Rule of thumb: read guest reviews published within the year. A positive review two years ago may not be accurate anymore.
2. Review the hotel’s reputation.
Aside from the positive and negative reviews, it’s wise to also check the reputation of the hotel. Is the hotel a famous honeymoon destination? If you’re traveling to bounce back from a breakup, please consider booking elsewhere. Trust me, I learned it the hard way.
Standalone boutique hotels are great when you’re out exploring the city most of the time. But I generally prefer hotels that are part of renowned hotel chains. Aside from the added security, I also enjoy being a member of their loyalty programs. Reward points (especially if you’re a frequent traveler) may be converted to discounts and room upgrades! Other perks may include early check-in and late check-out.
3. Compare hotel room amenities.
Amenities in hotel rooms should be considered, too. Like I suggested earlier, decide what’s important to you. Have a checklist of what you want inside your room. It can be a refrigerator, a bathtub, a kettle, a desk, an iron, or a hairdryer. If you’re on a business trip, you might also need a desk or a safe. Then check the hotel website or online reviews if the room you’re booking has these amenities.
4. Check the hotel’s facilities.
Don’t forget to check the hotel facilities as well. Do they have a gym, a pool, a restaurant, a spa, room service? Ask your hotel if these are available. Some may be under construction during your visit.
The most common hotel complaints are about its Internet connection, air-conditioning, and parking. Identify ahead of time if the WiFi is available throughout the whole premises or just in your room or the lobby. Double-check also if the parking is on-site or in some third-party garage.
5. Confirm if you’re booking comes with free breakfast.
Another common complaint across review and booking sites is the breakfast. Don’t let the ‘breakfast is available’ phrase fool you. This only means that the hotel has a cafe or restaurant that serves it. Make sure to verify if your booking does come with free breakfast.
If you have a dietary restriction, it’s wise to also check what kind of breakfast they are serving. Most hotels serve continental breakfast. Some offer breakfast buffets, especially the upscale boutique hotels.
6. Study the fine print.
Now that you’re satisfied with the amenities, do not forget to read the fine print. Make yourself informed of the hotel’s specific terms, conditions, or restrictions. Sure, the hotel may have all these state-of-the-art facilities, but are you sure that they don’t come at a cost? You may depend on your hotel’s Internet connection only to be told later that the free WiFi is only available for the first 3 hours.
Ask your hotel in advance. Check their website and what their cancellation policy is. What time can you check in? What time should you check out? Are there hidden taxes or resort fees? It’s better to be safe than sorry (and broke)!
7. Determine your budget.
Your budget plays an important role in choosing a hotel. What are you willing to give up to accommodate your budget and what’s important to you?
Ask yourself how much you’re comfortable spending on accommodation. Will you be okay with staying in a shared room? Or is privacy non-negotiable? This is why deciding what’s important is crucial. Assess also how much you’re willing to spend on food. If you have dietary restrictions, you might want to look for a place that has a well-equipped kitchen. Of course, don’t forget to allot a budget for going around town.
Make sure to cross-check hotel rates at three or four of your trusted booking sites before finalizing your booking. A great deal might just be one booking site away.
8. Consider accessibility.
Accessibility is another important factor when choosing a hotel. Is the hotel close to the airport? Are there grocery or convenience stores nearby? If you’re someone who gets hungry from time to time, opt for a place that has plenty of dining options around. Again, it depends on what’s important to you.
Figure out the places you want to see during your vacation and book a hotel within that area. If the attractions you want to see are far apart from each other, book a hotel near a train station or a bus stop. All major sites in the city will remain to be within your reach via public transportation.
9. Verify the hotel’s location on the map.
Due to marketing purposes, hotels may claim that they’re “close to” some tourist spots. Before you book the hotel, see where it’s situated on the map. The description of their hotel’s location may not be the most accurate. Try Google Maps instead.
Planning a vacation in a rather unfamiliar place is not an easy job. Choosing a quality hotel in a new city makes it more challenging. Your accommodation alone can make or break your trip. The tips and tricks I shared will hopefully take some weight off your shoulders. Now that you have done your research, it’s time for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Book that hotel and enjoy it as much as you can!