Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tips for Finding the Right Hotel

Since I posted a few hotel reviews yesterday, today I thought I'd share some tips for finding the right hotel for your stay.  

"Tell me what you want, what you really, really want."

What's important to you besides just location?  Are the hotel amenities as much a part of the destination?  Or do you just need a clean, comfy space to drop your bags and sleep?  How much of your travel budget are you willing to spend on accommodations.  We usually go for a mid-priced hotel that is clean and comfortable.  One extra we usually look for is a restaurant/bar on site or within walking distance (no driving after a nightcap.)  We also typically will pick someplace unique over a mundane chain hotel.

"What do you think?"    " I don't know.  What do you think?"

We always go on the recommendations of others.  Our first stop is TripAdvisor.
I heard recently that TripAdvisor is a place "to either rant or gush", so you have to throw out the worst 5% of the reviews as well as the best 5%.  Then you can usually get a pretty good idea about a place.  You also want to pay attention to the dates of the reviews.  Things can change quickly with new management or new construction.  Another positive sign, is if managers are responding to reviews in a proactive way. 

"Location. Location. Location."

Along with TripAdvisor, when selecting a hotel we always have a tab open with Google maps.  Nothing is worse then being so far away from all of the activity that you can't pop back to the room to freshen up or grab something you forgot.  You should also take into account how close you are to public transport stops, just in case the weather turns on you.  (Side eye London.)  Street View is also very helpful as it shows you the surroundings.  Before we went to Paris we took a virtual walk around the hotel to see what was close by.  You can even use Google Earth to see if that pool really is as big as the brochure indicates and just how far is the walk to the beach.
"You paid how much for that?"

Perform a little internet magic to get yourself the best rate.  There are all sorts of discount websites that will give you a deal. But don't forget, that sometimes a direct phone call to the hotel might get you an even better price. And bundle deals with hotel and airfare, may not necessarily get you the lowest price.  Calculate it out both ways.  Also, if you are staying in hotels often, take advantage of the loyalty plans offered by most chains.  (But, read the fine print.  We missed out on some loyalty points because we booked through a discount site rather than direct.)

And one last random tip...

In the US, Best Western has a reputation of being one of the many middle-of-the-road, cookie cutter, highway hotels.  But in the rest of the world, it's completely different.  Most of their international hotels are boutique hotels that may have been privately owned for years.  They've met a standard of service, taken on the Best Western name and become a part of their franchise network.  We've always been very pleasantly surprised with a Best Western in Europe.  They have the amenities and standards that we like in a unique local setting.  So don't let the chain name, scare you off.  (I have absolutely no affiliation with Best Western.  I really just think it's a good tip.)

Do you have any good tips for finding the right hotel?

I've linked this post up The Expat Diaries!


  1. Bailie @ The Hemborg WifeMay 29, 2013 at 3:32 AM

    These are great tips, growing up I was spoiled since my aunt worked for Hyatt and was always able to get us free or discounted rooms and now I sometimes have to be brought back to reality by my husband on what we really need when traveling!

  2. Super post Selena! I hadn't thought of the Google earth option, but what a good idea! Always look at Tripadvisor before I book. Thanks x

  3. Love these! Especially since I really hate hotels, which sounds ridiculous, I'm just so picky with cleanliness! My tip is to ask friends/family for recommendations! I'm more willing to listen to a friend's suggestions than a websites!

  4. I learned in Croatia that nothing leaves a worse taste in your mouth than paying too much for accommodation. Our apartment was not worth the money and I'm definitely going to be smarter when booking apartments in future. So, great advice here - my two most important points are wi-fi and location.

  5. Definitely Wi-Fi, I should have included that. It's so frustrating not to have it. And paying too much is so frustrating when you could have used that money for something else. I'm so hoping we get to Croatia this year!!

  6. I agree, Taylor. Word of mouth from friends & family is the best recommendation. I try not to think about the cleanliness issue too much while in a hotel. If I do, I get the heebie jeebies. 

  7. Thanks so much. I'm glad you like it. I know most vendors hate TripAdvisor sometimes, but as a consumer, I really value it.

  8. Thank, Bailie. Hyatt are always very nice! That would spoil me, too. Gotta love those husbands for always trying to bring us back to earth. ::rolling eyes:: With mine, I tend to just cover my ears and sing "lalalalalala." :)

  9. We found out about the Best Westerns while living in France. Some of the coolest (yet really upscale) hotels were part of the Best Western chain, and we found ourselves searching out BWs while traveling because they were clean, in good locations and well-priced in addition. Great list!

  10. Love your Google Earth suggestion. I will have to remember that!

  11. First thing I do is check out Trip Advisor and look at the WORST reviews. If they're consistent or mention bed bugs, then it's a no for me. But if it's just ridiculous whinges about having no face cloths, the thread count being too low, or noise in hotel in TIMES SQUARE, I'll still consider it. And maybe keep reading the hilarious bad reviews for comedy value.

  12. Great point, Gladley. It is pretty funny to read some of the things that people complain about. Some of the most random stuff! xoxo

  13. Thanks, Kayli. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! 

  14. Great post. I look at Trip Advisor and the reviews on ALL the time. If the hotel is dirty and in a sketchy area, I won't sleep at all.

    I think we stayed at a Best Western in Paris and the rooms were absolutely gorgeous. Like you said, they're boutique hotels in some places!

    Thank you for linking up!

  15. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Chelsea. I so love your blog! And happy birthday!!! xoxo Selena

  16. Finding the right hotel can be way hard! My husband and I have been looking for a great hotel in Edmonton for about a week now. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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