Hotels 101


Finding the right hotel is an art form that takes both time and patience. A picky traveler like me logs hours of research before committing to a hotel. Over the years, I have been able to refine this talent and today, I want to share my secrets with my readers. Without further adieu, below is my ‘how to book a hotel room’ checklist. Bookmark it, share it and enjoy it!!
  • Read reviews – You’d think this would be a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people pull the trigger on a hotel without reading what their fellow travelers have to say about it. Before any trip, I spend hours on tripadvisor.com to check out what people are saying. Is the hotel in a noisy area? How safe is the neighborhood where the hotel is located? Are the beds comfortable? You won’t find answers to these questions on the hotel’s actual website, but they are just as important when selecting where to stay. Another feature I love is that travelers can post photos of the hotel on tripadvisor.com. This takes the guess work out of trying to determine how old the stock photos are on a hotel’s website!
  • Check for bed bugs – Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard how big of a problem bed bugs have become in recent years. I would not even consider booking a hotel room without cross referencing it on the Bed Bug Registry. Granted, not all instances of bed bugs are reported to this site, and some of the findings might not be 100% accurate, but this resource is still one I utilize before any trip.
  • Look for discount codes – I never, ever make a purchase or book a vacation without checking for discount codes. Retail Me Not and Coupon Cabin are my two favorite coupon code sites, but if I can’t find a code there, Google is the next best thing. There are some fantastic deals out there if you do enough digging.
  • Consider staying outside the city – In most cases, you can find a great rate on a hotel located just outside of city limits. If you don’t need to be right in the middle of the action, this is an easy way to save some money on your trip. And if you’re worried about being outside the city, head over to Google Maps and look at an aerial view of the hotel to get a feel for how busy/desolate the area is.
  • Comparison shop – I love comparing rates on Kayak to make sure that I am getting the best discount possible. Sometimes you’ll see that the cheapest rates are non-refundable rates. I try to avoid booking a room that I won’t be able to receive a refund on, but if you’re looking to save money, that’s a good option to explore.
  • Take to Twitter – Travelling to an area that you know absolutely nothing about or no one in? Twitter is a great way to gather advice from the locals. Be sure to hashtag (#) your tweets with the city you are looking to stay in. Many cities’ tourism boards have a presence on Twitter and are very helpful to those looking to enjoy their city.
  • Add up extra costs – Sure you might be getting a great deal on the room itself, but how much will you be paying in additional costs such as parking? I have not booked hotel rooms simply because their parking rates were insane. Why stay someplace that is going to nickel and dime you when you can find a better rate elsewhere?
  • Freebies are GOOD – In order for me to book a hotel room, I need freebies. The feature that will always get me to book (pending good reviews!) is a free continental breakfast. I don’t need anything fancy – bagels and waffles will do. The amount of money saved on sit down breakfasts truly does add up, especially if you are staying at a hotel for a few nights.
  • Book through the source – I used to book my hotel rooms on discount sites, but really hated being charged for the cost of your entire stay upfront. To avoid this, I have started booking right through the hotel’s website. That way, I am not charged until I check out and can easily make a change or cancellation to my reservation without hoopla.
  • Join a Rewards Program – Customer loyalty DOES get rewarded, so if you’re partial to a certain chain, be sure to join their Rewards Program to reap the benefits!