Vacation planning can be fun or not so fun. Especially when it comes to choosing the best hotel for your trip. With thousands of options available, how to choose the best hotel for your trip? What do you look for to find a good hotel? Things are even more challenging in a foreign, unknown land. And we have all heard of those hotel nightmare stories. I am going to share my tips to help you to find the best hotel for your trip.
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The most important factor for me is the location. I typically look for something that is conveniently located from the airport and close enough to the main attractions. The location of the hotel is extremely important, so don’t be afraid to spend a few extra minutes researching this. In fact, this is the first and foremost step, before I get to the brand of the hotel, ratings, etc. I like to plug in the locations in Google maps, and read reviews on sites like TripAdvisor from other travelers.
When traveling to a foreign destination, the low room rates can be very enticing, however, I highly suggest you research the area first. You do not want to end up in a bad part of town, worrying all night about your safety. I think it is better to pay a little extra and stay in a decent area.
Some other things to consider are: how centrally is the hotel located? Are you planning on renting a car and parking at the hotel? Keep in mind, parking can be challenging and very expensive especially in major cities like New York, Paris, London, etc. Is public transportation easily accessible? Are there any restaurants nearby? This is important to know because the airport hotels are typically in a secluded area. Do you have to catch an early flight? Staying near the airport the night before might be the best option.
When it comes to reading online reviews, I personally just skim through them mainly looking for any major red flags or trends such as the location, condition of the hotel, etc. A poor customer service experience review won’t deter me entirely from choosing the hotel.
Reviews can be biased, paid for or simply an individual’s bad experience, so I try not to make my decision based solely on reading reviews.
This is very important to me! Before I share my tips, when you are reading reviews, this is one of the areas to focus on. If a hotel has too many poor reviews on their cleanliness, I say don’t stay at it.
On the flip side, if you have already selected the hotel, then here’s what I typically do. After entering my room, the first thing I do is, check the cleanliness of the room. And keep in mind, a clean room does not mean a bed made. I start my inspection from the bathroom, unclean bathtubs are a lot more common than you’d think. Next, a quick examination of the towels is highly recommended, look for stains or hair (gross!).
Moving on to the bed, in case you didn’t know, the comforter and blankets are typically not washed or changed after each guest checks out, only the bed sheets and pillow cases are changed. So next time, before you hop on that bed, make sure to take off the comforter and blanket. Also double check the sheets for any stains or hair. And if you do come across anything, don’t be shy to request a change of sheets or towels.
The saying ‘you get what you pay for’, doesn’t apply to hotels. Thanks to all the deals and special prices offered. You can find hundreds of amazing deals as long as you are willing to dedicate a few minutes to price shop.
I begin my search with a budget in mind. This helps me to narrow down my options. Keep in mind, the amount you spend will vary by location, city and country. A room for $100 might not get you much in a big city like New York compared to a hotel in some of the South American or Asian countries.
Here are a few other charges to keep in mind to help you how to choose the best hotel for your trip:
- Resort fees
- Additional person fee
- Early check in
- Mini bar/snack bar
- Amenity usage fees
The other thing I look for is the hotel’s star rating, i.e. whether it is a 1, 2 or 5 stars. I certainly do not want to pay $500 per night for a 1 or 2 star hotel.
All inclusive resorts are another great option. They are popular especially in the Caribbean and other tropical destinations such as Cancun. Food and drinks are included in the package.
Imagine stepping out to your balcony and boom! There it is, the majestic Eiffel Tower or stunning turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Who wouldn’t love those views, right?
Views are definitely an important deciding factor for me especially if I am traveling on a bigger budget. I want to wake up everyday during my vacation and be reminded that I am on vacation.
If the 2020 pandemic has taught me anything, it surely is safety. Whether it be health/physical or mental/emotional. So naturally it is no different when it comes to picking the right hotel.
Location is key here, you want to be in an area that has low or non-existent crime rate, this can be petty thefts or any major crimes. If I have my vehicle parked in the hotel parking lot, I want to have peace of mind that chances of a break in are slim to none.
Location is also important if I am planning to walk to a nearby restaurant or café, especially as it starts getting dark outside.
Lastly, is the hotel’s cleaning protocol. This became a number one priority for every traveler. I personally stayed at well known and trusted brands such as Hilton, because I trusted their cleaning and sanitizing protocols more than a privately owned Airbnb. Of course, I traveled with my own cleaning supplies such as hand sanitizers and cleaning wipes, which are all in travel friendly sizes.
Free Wi-fi and a gym are the most basic amenities a hotel has to offer in order for me to even consider it. And if we are talking about a relaxing beach vacation, a spa and pool are my essentials.
Now if we are talking about a city break, lets say somewhere in NYC or Pairs, I may not even get to spend a lot of time at my hotel so free Wi-fi will do it for me.
Room amenities such as a hair dryer, an iron + ironing board towels, etc. are non-comprisable for me (you’ll be surprised not every hotel offers all of these). I suggest taking a quick peek at the amenities section to ensure all your must haves are included before you book that room.
What are some of your favorite hotel amenities?
More tips on How to Choose the Best hotel for your trip
In addition to the above criteria, there are a few other things to consider when you are thinking of how to choose the best hotel for your trip.
- Hotel star ratings- I know a lot of people begin their search by looking at the hotel ratings which is great as it helps narrow down the search options. The hotel star ratings system basically is a group of experts who go around and test the quality standards of hotels all over the world. In the U.S., 1 star is the lowest rating and 5 stars is the highest ratings. I personally do not go below a 3.5 stars unless I am in a dire need.
- Brand names- In my opinion, this is a personal preference. Some people enjoy and trust known brands such as Hilton, Marriott, etc. to deliver a quality product with the same standards all over the world. While, others like to experience the charm of unique hotels/boutique. Depending on my destination, I tend to flip flop between these two.
- Green/Eco-friendly hotels- With global warming and sustainability gaining more attention, eco friendly business practices are a must! As travelers, we have a responsibility towards protecting our planet. Picking a hotel that is qualified as a green hotel plays an important role in helping save our planet. Click here to read more.
- Room setup- This is important if you are traveling as a family or with a group. Does the room have enough space for a crib or rollaway bed? Many hotels in Europe only offer 2 double beds in each room as compared to 2 queen sized beds in the hotels in U.S.
Picking a hotel for your trip can be an extremely daunting task especially for first timers. There are just so many options out there! So in case you are lost on how to choose the best hotel for your trip, my tips will definitely help you! Let me know if you any questions, I am happy to help!