So you’ve decided to take a trip and you need to book a hotel room. Choosing a hotel room can be incredibly overwhelming, especially with hundreds of hotels to choose from and thousands sites you can research and book through.
To me, there are three main important things to keep in mind when booking a room: location, rating, and price. These may seem obvious, but finding a room to fit the criteria can be quite the task. Below are some steps and resources to help you find and book a room without wanting to pull your hair out.
The location of your hotel can make or break a trip. In an ideal world, I would plan out all of the things I wanted to do and see in a destination and look for a hotel close to as many of those as possible. However, if you’re a procrastinator like me, you’ll need to book your hotel before you’ve even thought about your activities.
Look at a map of hotels to find prime locations.
Typically, from looking at a map of hotels in a city you can judge good locations from noticing where there are groups of hotels. This will give you a good idea on the areas to look into. If a hotel is not near many other hotels, it is likely it is not in a good spot to access attractions.
While booking a room on the outskirts of town may save you quite a bit, add the cost of coming in and out of town and the amount of time that takes and I think you will likely find most of those savings have disappeared.
Check out the neighborhoods in your destination.
Often there are multiple groups of hotels, grouped in different neighborhoods. Certain neighborhoods may be quieter at night and thus better suited for families, whereas other parts of town may have a lot of nightlife. It is helpful to look into the different neighborhoods of your destination to determine if the spot you chose fits what you are looking for. You can view descriptions of each neighborhood on sites like travel.usnews.com/ (also my favorite site to check for the best time to visit a destination).
Zooming into your selected neighborhood and filtering the options with a price range or star rating should narrow your choices down to a manageable level of hotels to research.
Read the Negative Reviews:
There are a number of sites to read reviews of hotels from including the well known TripAdvisor and Hotels.com. Wherever you choose to read reviews, you are likely to find similar positive reviews on most hotels. The negative reviews (and the date which they were written) often have more insight of the flaws of the hotel. The negative reviews may be concerns that members of the staff were not helpful, which may not be of much concern. On the other hand, negative stories can contain stories of uncleanliness, the rooms being misrepresented, or recent construction issues.
Check out the User Photos.
Most hotels can look high quality in professional pictures. Sites like TripAdvisor offer photos from users, or “traveler photos” to see what the rooms look like when they aren’t photographed by professionals. Great place to get an idea of what your expectations should really be.
After reviewing user photos and ratings of the hotels in the area you would like to stay in, you should be ready to book yourself a room! Look for our article about the best sites to book hotel rooms tomorrow.
Have any other great resources fellow travelers should know about? Let us know!