A Checklist To Relaxation
By Nick P. Mendoza III
October 13, 2019
Getting your hotel right can make, or break, a relaxing vacation. But with so many hotels to choose from, sifting out the wheat from the chaff can be a tricky and often time-consuming process. Want to get it right and avoid common booking hotel pitfall? Here are five things to add to your checklist when booking a hotel.
1. Location, Location, Location
First and foremost, the hotel needs to be where you want to be. This might seem a little obvious, but it requires you knowing exactly what you want. The perfect hotel won’t be right for you if it’s not in the right place. But precisely where that is depends on you. If you’re planning an island getaway, do you want to be oceanfront so you can step right out onto the sand from your hotel room? In a city, would it make more sense to be close to transit so you can hop on the subway instead of wasting money hailing a cab? Or would you prefer to stay in a central location close to the attractions? Solo travelers, particularly females, might consider it important to be in a safe neighborhood so they can come and go at night without fear. But there are also times when a quiet back street is just the ticket, especially in a louder city.
Depending on where you travel, you'll have myriad options available to you. Make a list of what's important to you when it comes to location, and start checking hotels off your list.
Hand in hand with location goes price. If you can’t afford the room, it doesn’t matter how perfect the location is. But don’t be swayed by the headline price. In an increasing number of places, you’ll have to add on taxes or resort fees. Often, these aren’t optional, even if you don’t require the services they cover. In Las Vegas, it’s hard to find a hotel near the Strip that doesn’t add on a resort fee; the five-star Bellagio, for instance, adds a not-insignificant $44 per night, which soon adds up. Even if there are no resort fees, some services are classed as extras, such as parking and internet. Make sure you do your research ahead of time so you have a better idea of what you'll shell out at the end of your stay.
There are ways to save money, like ditching the valet or picking a room without a view. And if you're part of any kind of rewards program, don't forget to take your points into account when booking.
3. Type of Booking
Sometimes when making hotel reservations, we switch to autopilot, going straight to our usual booking site or defaulting to our preferred chain. While that might indeed be a savvy choice if you’re likely to benefit from loyalty programs, shop around to see whether you can get the same room cheaper elsewhere.
Different hotels and booking platforms also offer different terms of booking. For example, if you choose a booking that offers a free cancellation, which is useful if your plans are subject to change, it may often cost more than paying an advanced, locked rate. Also check to see what the hotel charges for various meal plans. In some parts of the world it may be cost effective to book on a half board or full board basis. In others, you could be paying well over average for a hotel breakfast that’s just not worth the money.
4. Food and Drink
On the face of it, reserving a room in a hotel that has a lively bar might seem like a great idea. But if you’re exhausted after a long journey and find yourself sleeping above the noise, it won’t seem like such a bonus. Likewise, there’s no point in choosing a hotel on account of its selection of restaurants if you know you always prefer eating out in the local area. Be honest with yourself about the kind of food and drink outlets you’re actually going to use and choose a hotel that suits your lifestyle.
One thing you should consider, however, is complimentary breakfast. Hotels that include the breakfast with your room for no extra charge are definitely worth an extra look. The ability to grab a quick bite and cup of coffee before you head out in the morning can save you time and money each morning of your trip.
Reviews can also be a godsend when it comes to cleanliness. If you’re on a tight budget, you might consider choosing accommodation with access to a shared bathroom. Take a look at what previous guests have to say and if a pattern emerges, think about upping the budget to ensure you don’t have to shower in someone else’s dirt. Likewise, trawl the reviews for evidence of unwelcome visitors who might wish to share your room – and give any property which has had issues with cockroaches or bedbugs a wide berth until you’re sure the management are on top of it.
These are my top five topics that always come up before choosing the best hotel stay for a relaxing, cost effective time. Though I am a penny pincher, I tend to get my money's worth by simply following these five checklists. Hopefully you'll be able to use these tips when booking your next hotel getaway and have a satisfying experience wherever you travel!