Most travelers consider many factors when booking a hotel, from free WiFi to the quality of the pillows. Location, however, should definitely top the list, since it can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep and a bad one. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know if the place where you’re going to stay is any good…especially in foreign cities that you simply don’t know! Before you commit to a hotel and its location, take a look into these useful tips for selecting a hotel!
Punch the Hotel’s Address Into Google Street View
Website pictures of hotels and their neighborhoods always tend to paint a pretty picture. However, these embellished photographs can be far from accurate. When considering a hotel, check its address first on Google Street View to get a sense of the neighborhood and what the hotel actually looks like. You can usually tell a bad part of town from a good one just by taking a virtual drive down the street this way!
Weed Through Reviews Describing its Location
Many hotel reviewers complain about the bad service that they received or how their room didn’t have a damned teakettle. But most bad hotel reviews are merely circumstantial, though. Just because one person had one experience doesn’t mean that you’ll have the same terrible time. On the other hand, the reviews that can be universally helpful to all travelers are usually those that delve into the location. Some reviewers will flat out describe how that part of town felt unsafe. Others will reveal the truth by sharing that the hotel isn’t within walking distance to any sort of attractions and amenities, after all. Spend some time scrolling through reviews that specifically mention tidbits about the location. If the location is highlighted in any sort of bad light from safety to distance from attractions…it might be best to find a better contender!
Always Consider: Touristy Can Definitely Mean Loud!
One annoying and all-too-common problem that anyone can face when deciding on a location is the noise. While you might think a hotel right in the middle of the action can be a good idea, it can at times mean a loud night of little sleep. Again, Google Street View can help with this to discern if your hotel is next to a nightclub or bar. As a rule of thumb, keep in mind that heavily touristy areas have the potential to concentrate loud hotel rooms since these parts of the city tend to go all night just for the tourists.
Measure Distances to Public Transportation and Main Attractions
Hotels outside of city centers are often priced considerably lower than those inside the city’s heart. To some travelers, these savings are worth the price that you pay with the location. But never forget to measure the distances from the hotel to public transportation and main attractions before booking any room…no matter how good the price is! If turns out to be a hike just to get on the subway to get into town, the hotel with the cheap price might not be the best choice. If, however, there is a bus stop right outside your door to take you right into town…then you might be onto something!
Define the Purpose of Your Trip
Before you begin your hotel search, it’s a good idea to start by defining the purpose of your trip. Having a well-defined purpose will help to guide your selection process. For example, if this is a family trip, you’re going to want to choose a hotel that boasts kid-friendly amenities. If you’re looking for a couple’s weekend away, you may want to look for something like a romantic bed and breakfast or a trendy boutique hotel. Likewise, a girls’ trip or a vacation away with the guys will be better served with a fun hotel in the middle of the action and the activities that you want to try!
Look for the “Holy Grail of Amenities”
There are a handful of amenities known as “the holy grail” in hotel circles. These primary amenities to look for when choosing your lodging accommodations are air conditioning, Wi-Fi, breakfast, and parking availability. In addition to making sure the hotel offers these sought-after amenities, you should check the price. For example, there are some hotels that still charge for Wi-Fi while parking is usually a premium in big cities. Be sure to read the fine print about these amenities so that you know what you are getting as you price out the different options.
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Find Out What Kind Of Guests Stay There…
If you want to be surrounded by like-minded travelers, you would be wise to look into what type of guests generally stay at the hotels that you are considering. This is important if you want your trip to show a certain vibe. For instance, a lively resort that attracts families is likely not the best choice for a quiet getaway with your partner. One of the best ways to determine what type of clientele a particular hotel attracts is to read the online user reviews. You will enjoy your trip way more if you choose the best hotel for your personality and your personal needs!
Earn or Use Loyalty Points
Savvy travelers understand the importance of trying to rack up loyalty points when out on the road. Choosing one chain or family of hotels and sticking with them for the majority of your trip can earn you plenty of awards. It’s worth your effort to be intentional about checking into the loyalty programs of the hotels you are considering. Many hotels also partner with airline frequent flier programs, allowing you to earn miles on qualifying hotel stays. If you’re going to be spending money on a hotel room, you might as well be banking points to use for free stays later down the road. You may be surprised at how quickly the rewards points add up!
Research How New (or Old!) it is…
Lastly, one of the most impactful aspects of a hotel to consider when making a final selection is how new it is. If the hotel is on the older side, be sure to check when it was last updated or renovated. Do this as soon as you can — yes, even before booking those tempting one way flights to your destination — and never take the online pictures of the property at face value…as these can often be deceiving. It’s better to find out first-hand when the last time it was remodeled. Most hotels will start to look dated and worn after about four to six years. Do not be shy about asking when the last time that the property went through a total refresh if you know a worn hotel will decrease your satisfaction.
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