The hotel you stay in can completely make or break any holiday. While the right hotel will provide you with a comfortable base of operations in which to relax and ton of amenities, the wrong hotel can make you uncomfortable and potentially even unsafe – souring your impression of an area or even a whole country!
This is a choice you really need to get right then but with so many hotels vying for your attention, how do you go about finding one that will meet or surpass your expectations? Using the limited information available from the website, how do you draw any useful conclusions? Read on and let’s take a look.
The first thing to recognize here is that a good hotel for one person may not be a good hotel for another. In other words, you need to think about what you specifically are looking for from a hotel and whether the ones you are looking at will deliver that.
For instance, if you are on a business trip and you hope to work, then you need somewhere that is going to provide you with a quiet environment (you can rule out anywhere that has lots of stag parties) and you will probably want WiFi. On the other hand, if you are a family and you have young children, you’ll potentially want a cot in the room and you’ll want somewhere where you won’t get into trouble if you’re a little noisier.
Likewise, you also need to consider your own personal preferences and what it is that makes you happy when staying in a hotel. There is a certain type of person who will enjoy a bed and breakfast with a chatty and hands-on clientele. These people love staying somewhere with ‘character’ and they like making friends with the owners. On the other hand though, there are some people who find this sort of thing to be their worst nightmare and would much prefer to stay somewhere that was part of a chain where they could remain anonymous. Neither is ‘right’ – it all comes down to personal preference (and what you’re trying to get out of your holiday).
Another example of this is to do with comfort vs budget. If you’re a backpacker going on holiday with a friend, then you may very well be happy to stay in a hostel that has a slight cockroach infestation. If you’re on a romantic break with your wife though, you’ll probably want somewhere a little more upmarket.
One important factor that often gets overlooked with hotels is the location. This is particularly important if you’re going to be staying somewhere abroad, as you likely won’t know much about the area or where are really the best places to stay.
This is why it pays to research the place you’re going as well as the hotel. If you’re staying in cities you’ll find that the most important thing is often simply that you’re near a train station or subway – that way you’ll be able to get anywhere else you need to.
Like it or not, the cost of your location is almost always going to play a big role in your decision. But when you’re calculating that cost, it’s also crucial to remember to include the less obvious expenses.
For instance, is the WiFi free or do you have to pay? Will you have to pay for parking? Is breakfast included and if not, is there somewhere nearby you can eat cheaply? Don’t just take the cost on face value, take some time to first imagine what your routine will be once you’re out there and how your hotel will impact on that and cost you more or less money accordingly.
General Cleanliness and Level of Service
Regardless of who you are though or what the purpose for your visit, there will be somethings that you will be looking for on your trip. For instance, everyone will want their hotel to be generally clean and hygienic and it will always be unpleasant where this is not the case. Likewise, you will want your room to be as spacious, well-kept and comfortable as it can be and the staff should be friendly and eager to help where they can.
Of course any hotel is going to claim that it has comfortable rooms and is well cleaned and so the only way to get a real idea of this is to look at photos. While these won’t always be flawlessly helpful, they will normally provide you with a pretty good idea of what the rooms are like when they’re looking their best.
You can often tell a lot about a hotel from looking at the carpets and curtains. Are they new looking, or do they have awkward retro patterns? Likewise, are they big or small? How wide is the bed? And does the furniture look relatively new? This is one advantage of course when choosing a branded chain – you at least will know what you are getting if you’ve ever stayed in one of their hotels before. Star ratings are also useful as a guide for this.
Another place to find information regarding the service and the state of the hotels, is in the reviews. This is where you’ll find the things that the hotels themselves neglect to mention and you’ll find comments on things like infestations or lack of service.
Reading reviews is always a good idea but make sure you are careful not to take any one review too much to heart. Even the best hotels in the world will have a few customers that aren’t happy and those will be the customers most likely to leave reviews. If you see a few bad comments, make sure to scroll down and read the others. Likewise, ask yourself whether cracked pain behind the wardrobe would be enough to ruin your holiday. Once again, that really comes down to what you’re looking for from your accommodation!
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