Checklist of Things to Do Before Making a Hotel Reservation
Now that the world is traveling again for both business and pleasure, it’s time to take a fresh look at how to find the best hotel deals for your next journey. With search engines providing hundreds of hotel selections to choose from, it’s important to screen your choices carefully. We have prepared an essential checklist for narrowing your choices whether you’re looking for a basic cheap hotel or a luxury property. Our guide will help you access the property by
- Convenient Location
- Safety and Security
- Affordability and Fees
Let’s take a look at the essential checklist for selecting your ideal hotel:
The hotel location is one of the most important decisions you will make. There is no point in saving a few dollars by staying a distance from the area you need to visit since you will likely spend the difference in transportation costs. Find a property where you can walk to your areas of interest, or close to public transportation options. Most lodging search engines provide maps where you can locate each of the hotels you are considering. If you will be arriving late (or even very early) let the hotel know in advance so they will not release your room to someone else, and may have your room prepared for early arrival if it has not been occupied the night before.
- Is the area the hotel in a well-lit, busy area?
- Is there ample parking on the property?
- Is parking free of charge or will you need to pay a garage or valet fee?
- Can you access public transportation?
- Will you be able to walk to nearby attractions?
Safety and Security
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to a specific area, consider how safe the area is, especially if it’s in a large city. Many cities have areas that are far more desirable and safer than others. Be sure the hotel you select is in a ‘good area’. Consider what safety measures the hotel takes.
- Is there a doorman, valet, or private security at the door?
- Do all rooms face the interior of the property? Many older hotels may have been built in the style where doors open to the outdoors. This compromises security and is never an ideal choice even though the price may be less.
- Does the front desk staff speak your language?
- Is there an ATM on the property or nearby in a safe location?
- Can you eat nearby?
It can be a bit tricky to determine the cleanliness of a hotel in advance. You should always check the hotel’s online reviews before making your booking. Also when you arrive to check in, take a quick look around the lobby area. If conditions are in disarray or are not well kept there, you should consider staying elsewhere. When you arrive in your room, it’s always a good idea to carry sani-wipes with you to quickly disinfect surfaces you touch such as the tv remote, phone, door knobs, etc.
Determine your price range in advance and search for hotels within your budget. Consider what items are included in your pricing and which are not. For instance, some properties will charge a ‘resort fee’ even though they may not be a resort at all, but simply have a swimming pool on site.
Make your reservation as far in advance as possible. Two or three months before your stay is ideal. It is a common practice for hotels to list their least expensive prices well in advance and then raise the price as space is filled. Just be sure to check the cancelation policy to be sure you can change your reservation if your plans change. You can usually save money by booking a non-refundable price but consider carefully whether this will be a good choice for you. If you are traveling in a few days, then this is probably a good way to save money.
Examine the type of rooms and rates that are offered. You may find that rooms with queen beds are less than rooms with a king bed. Is the larger bed really that important to you? If you are in a resort area, the view might be worth paying more for. However, if you are on a business trip or have a short stay, paying more for a good view is probably not necessary and will cost you less.
- Be sure to determine if there are any additional fees for your stay.
- Is breakfast included?
- Can the room be canceled if your plans change?
- Is there an onsite restaurant and/or cocktail lounge?
- Are there affordable places to eat nearby?
- Don’t forget to enter any affiliations you have that will get you a discount such as an auto-club, senior rate, or rewards program.
Many times the amenities a hotel offers may make it a wonderful bargain even though the basic price may be a few dollars more. Having breakfast included in the price can easily save a significant amount of your daily budget. Some properties also offer a cocktail hour in the late afternoon.
- Does the hotel have proper air-conditioning? While this may be standard in the USA, it’s important to check when traveling in Europe and the Caribbean.
- Does the hotel offer a resort-style pool and lounging area?
- Is there a concierge desk to help you plan your activities, give advice, and make advance reservations?
- Does the hotel offer free Wifi?
- Is room service offered?
- Is there a business center for printing out your ticket confirmations?
- Is the hotel pet friendly?
- Does the hotel offer special needs rooms if requested?
- Is there a coffee/tea maker and microwave in your room, or is coffee available 24/7 in the lobby?
- Pack some of your favorite snacks in your bag and avoid the pricey mini-bars and vending machines.
The hotel’s amenities can make a big difference to your stay and are often worth a bit of extra cost.
The cost of your hotel can be greatly affected by the time of year or day of the week. For instance, in big cities, it’s often less expensive to stay on weekend nights after business travelers have departed. In resorts, it’s often less expensive to stay Monday through Thursday, as most of the demand is on the weekend. Also, consider the season of the year for your travel. Most locations have better rates in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall when the weather is still good but the demand is less than high season. Tailor your trips accordingly whenever possible to make the most of your travel dollars.