Most customers like to do their research when booking a hotel. Few will book the first they find online and even fewer will stop looking after the first. You’ll have some of your own factors that you’ll be on the look out for when booking a hotel for your stay, but there are one or two other factors to consider that many holiday makers forget to weigh up. As such, here’s a few things to bear in mind when you’re looking through your options, including hopefully a few you might not have considered yourself.
Location, location. This really can make or break your stay. Whilst the pictures of a pretty hotel room can be seductive when it comes to making up your mind, your access to the destination along with the atmosphere you take in whilst your away are dictated by the location of the hotel. Google street maps is a really useful tool for investigating the exact whereabouts of your hotel. Have a look on street view at the area around and consider where this is in relation to the attraction you want to visit. Consider as well the distance between the hotel and the nearest transport connections. Being near a bus, tram or train station or stop is a handy way to avoid paying premium prices for staying in city centre hotels.
Whilst the standard of a hotel can be discerned from its star rating, (we wrote about what a hotel needs to have to fulfil the requirements of each last month) but in recent years online customer reviews are becoming as important. In some ways they can be more insightful, reflecting the experience of customers rather than just the facilities. There are some subjective and indistinct qualities that a hotel can posses that don’t necessarily get reflected in a hotel star rating, these are an area where the personal reviews of other customers can be very useful. Don’t necessarily be put off by a bad review either, if it’s one amongst a string of very positive reviews. There is a problem here with sample size in many cases, but if bad reviews are a repeated phenomenon for a hotel, this might be more indicative.
Something that many travellers don’t always consider is what counts as high season and off season in that particular country. Just as prices in the UK rise with the increase in demand in the high season, when schools aren’t on term time especially, the same is true of hotels in other parts of the world. Whilst in many Spanish resorts the price rises are synchronised with the demand from the UK and British school holidays, not all destinations reflect the UK so closely. Try prices a few weeks around your chosen date and you might find regional variations throughout the season dictated by local variation.
Many hotels in the industry have areas of speciality. It’s important to note that these might not always be immediately apparent by the web information given, because most hotels will want to keep their appeal broad. Some hotels specialise in taking group bookings for example, as we covered in a blog last month. Similarly, some will specialise more specifically in accommodation for school and student bookings. These can take bookings of hundreds of younger students at a time. If you want to be stuck in a hotel for a week with a noisy bunch of rowdy teenagers and their stressed out teachers then these hotels might be the place for you, otherwise do your research and make sure that the hotel you book doesn’t work with agencies taking large group bookings from schools. This information can be discerned from the use reviews if it is not wholly apparent on their site.
It’s best to get these details straight before you start. Look to see exactly what’s included for the price you pay. Assuming you get breakfast isn’t always fruitful, as different countries have different traditions about what’s included in the price of a room. If you want to be sure and take a weight off your mind, then consider going for an all inclusive package. Knowing whether meals, drinks and services are included in the price you pay is a good way to help you to budget for your holiday and give you time to research alternatives and cheap places to eat nearby.
If you pick out a hotel that you like the look of, then it’s always worth Googling its name for offers. Hotels might have discount codes or vouchers available on other sites that aren’t shown on their own. The logic here, being that it’s worth their offering incentives to try and attract visitors that otherwise wouldn’t have looked at the hotel, but those who have already found the site don’t need the encouragement. You might be able to find a reduced price on your hotel stay for a little bit of extra time having a nosy around, so its worth having a look, if only to see what other offers are available.
A final factor for consideration is the hotel’s smoking policy. Whilst smoking in public places such as bars, restaurants and hotels has been outlawed in the UK for around a decade now, in other parts of the world there are completely different approaches to smoking inside in public places. Especially in the hotel bar or restaurant you might find guests smoking. Many non-smokers find the smell unpleasant, and it can be a real detriment to a holiday if the time you spend in the hotel is uncomfortable. Being in smoky places has also been shown to damage the efforts of those who are trying to quit or have already quit smoking so this is another reason to do your research before booking.
Along side the more natural considerations, like price, these are a few things that we’d recommend are added to your checklist before you book your next hotel stay. If there are any that you think should be added then let us know your tips.