There is nothing worse than getting to your hotel after a long day of travel, only to find that it isn’t exactly what you expected, and not in a good way.
If you are spending good money on a hotel, then you will naturally want it to meet your needs, as well as fulfilling the basics of being clean, safe, and comfortable, but with so many options available online, it can be difficult to know what to book for the best. That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help you choose the right hotel online at every step of your journey…
1. Know what matters to you
It’s obvious, but you’re going to find it tough to choose the right hotel if you don’t really know what matters to you. So, before you start searching for a place to stay, sit down and make a list of the things you really want and need from a hotel. This could be anything from a free breakfast to vegetarian food to accommodation that supports accessible travel – it doesn’t matter what is important to you as long as it is a reasonable request. Once you have written your list, it will be easier for you to narrow your options down based on which hotels can meet as many of your requirements as possible.
2. Know the four must-have amenities
If you are traveling, no matter where you are going or what you’re doing, there are four things that will make your life a whole lot easier. These are:
- Air conditioning
- Parking (if you are traveling with a vehicle)
If you can find a hotel that includes all of these things as standards, not only will you be more comfortable there, but you will also be able to save money because you won’t have to spend quite so much money on food or an internet cafe passes, for example. Although most hotels offer these four amenities as standard, not every place does, so be sure to bear that in mind when you are searching for the right hotel. If their website doesn’t state whether or not they offer this stuff, simply email them and ask because it’s far better to check than it is to be left disappointed when you get there.
3. Read reviews
If you were thinking of booking a hotel, whether it’s a five-star resort or a backpackers bunkhouse, you should never, ever, do so before reading the reviews. Of course, customer reviews are highly subjective, so you cannot necessarily believe everything that is written, but if you discount the amazing reviews and the terrible ones and read only the reviews in the middle, chances are you will get a true picture of the place and you can decide whether it is somewhere you would enjoy being or not.
When reading reviews, you should be looking for information on things like cleanliness, noise levels, how good/safe the food is to eat, and how safe the place is – the basics – as well as any extras that may be on your important stuff list.
Oh, and on the subject of reviews, it’s really important that you try to look at reviews which have been written in the last 6-12 months, or sooner if you can because these are the reviews that are most likely to give you an accurate representation of what the hotel will be like when you check in.
4. Read the hotel’s own website
As well as reading reviews of any hotels you are interested in booking, you should also take the time to read the hotel’s own website because they may have made various changes to their services since those reviews were written and the last thing you want to do is book a hotel based on, say its a quiet location, only to find that a new development has been built next door or they have the builders in. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
5. Look on Google Maps
A big mistake that many travelers make is choosing a hotel that is too far away from the amenities and attractions that they want to see. It’s easy to do this because many hotels downplay their location and how inconvenient it is while offering better prices than many other centrally located hotels. So, if location matters to you, it’s a really good idea to put the address into Google Maps or similar so that you can get a truer picture of where it is located and how easily you will be able to get around once you are based there.
6. Check who stays there
This isn’t always easy, but if you can find out what kind of people tend to stay at the hotel most often – backpackers, vacationing families, business travelers, etc. – then it will give you a much better idea of what kind of establishment it is and what kind of experiences you are likely to have while you’re there. Websites like TripAdvisor actually allow you to filter by Traveler type, so I suggest you use that function to ensure that you stay in a place that you truly feel comfortable with.
7. Explore your options
It’s really easy to just pick one of the first hotels you find in the location you need with a price you can afford, but if you do this, you are less likely to find a place that you truly love, and which is truly right for you. Yes, it may take longer to thoroughly check out your hotel options and do everything else on this list, but it will be worth it when your money is well spent and you’re able to have a nice hotel experience and a good night’s sleep because, really, there is nothing worse than being uncomfortable and unable to sleep when you’ve been traveling for who knows how long and you just want to take a break.
Choose your hotel wisely and the rest of your vacation will be so much better for it!
Bonnie is always on the road with some amazing adventures ahead. Her favorite continent is South America and she’s passionate about culture-focused traveling and ethical and sustainable tourism. During her time in university as a research assistant for a sociology professor, she realized she can’t fully understand cultures from a safe distance. She quit her job to become a full-time “voluntourist,” which brings her to places where she can immerse in local communities and support their causes. On top of writing, one of Bonnie’s priorities is offering women advice on how to stay safe while solo backpacking.