Why and How we Choose the Best Hotel for a Vacation, We share our 7 Criteria
Are you a winter, summer, spring, or all year travel lover, so how do you choose the best hotel for your needs; business or vacation?
Assuming you are not the check online and pick whatever shows up in your budget, although that’s also a consideration…! If you are a college kid looking for a cheap fun filled vacation, you might go for that criteria…But if you are a parent, with children, who may have conditions and needs, you will be a lot pickier.
You surely have some non-negotiables on your list of what type of hotel to go for on your next trip.
When our children were smaller, our choice of vacation accommodation was very important. The type of property, room size, location, child friendly facilities, accessibility, value for money etc. vis-à-vis our needs all mattered.
Confession: I tell you before our son was born, the views, the clear blue pool waters, the beach images used to get me every time. It didn’t occur to me that these are clever marketing techniques by hotels, travel agents and website promos to attract my dollars…But now I know better.
Today I know that like anything worth having and enjoying, a bit of research goes a long way. I know that some images are photo shopped, I know that there are some travel scammers out there.
By the way, I highly recommend you read our earlier post on Tourist Scams so you can avoid them.
So in today’s post, I am going to share with you, what criteria we used and in some cases still use today to choose the best hotel for our travel accommodation needs. In turn I hope this will help you make the right choice for your needs on your next vacation! So without further ado, lets dive in to:
HOW TO CHOSE THE BEST HOTEL FOR YOUR VACATION – 7 CRITERIA
- What are your needs?
I love being spontaneous, impulsive, surprising my loved ones. It is freakin fun…But not when it COULD COST you and ruin your surprise. Hear me out…Is it worth choosing any old hotel online without checking to see if it’s what you really need?
For instance, you could find fleas; dirty rooms, moldy baths, a building site, drained pool, broken kids equipment, far from the action, dingy, uncared for, needs updating, images didn’t tell the truth…And much more.
These are things Brits have found and share in reviews about the hotels they booked “Blind” so to speak.
It’s important to consider whether you are driven by budget or by other considerations like distance, how to get there, type of hotel i.e. large resort or small B & B, the cost per person per night, facilities you want as part of the hotel or price.
Are you looking for a budget self-catering facility or do you want a dream trip, a luxury hotel, a family vacation to remember? For all the right reasons of course! 🙂
Think these things through, write what you want down, you will be spending at least 7 days of your life plus your cash there. You are taking your loved ones too…So have some criteria in mind!
With some non-negotiables in place, you can head on to search for and choose the best hotel for your vacation.
- Where are we Going: Destination & Location?
You will usually have a vague or specific idea where you want to go from recommendations, movies, TV, magazines, a childhood dream, bucket list etc. So your destination can be specific. Or you just want to go away for some R & R so you are not fussed where it is. But you definitely don’t want to end up in a dingy little shit-hole with the back end of a dark alley as your view, which was advertised as a Charming family run establishment close to the amenities you need…A common enough thing!
For instance, we chose Marmaris Turkey and the hotel we stayed at because of the Pamukkale Springs…We saw them on TV and made a “Spontaneous decision” to go on Paul’s 40th! So you see very few things are really spontaneous…
Good thing is in this digital era, as long as you have an address, head on to Google Maps and check out the local surrounds of your potential vacation accommodation. Also most major booking sites allow you to check out your search results on a map. Many travel apps also give you more details on the location of a hotel vis-à-vis other amenities and site-seeing attractions.
Choose the wrong hotel, and unless you are a highly optimistic person, your trip won’t be as enjoyable as you hoped. Do you want a quiet location to chillax and regroup, or you want to be in the middle of the action…Clubbing Faliraki or quieter rural Rhodos? You decide before you chose!
Don’t make a hotel booking until you see the location, amenities, surrounds, ease of access etc.
- Let’s talk about Cash
Of course you have a budget, unless you won the big lottery. So you are looking to choose the best hotel for your price when you make your search.
For this criteria, even when we use our club booking engine we sort our results by price. We then go out and compare prices with other big players like Booking.com, Trivago, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity etc.
We really love to challenge our Club Guarantee;
“If You Book your trip and Find it cheaper elsewhere within 7 days of your booking, you are Refunded 150% and sent on that trip FREE!”
We are yet to beat the prices. So do consider checking out our Travel Club Discounts!
Well don’t stop there, absolutely check the hotel own website for any promos and price match offers, most branded hotels give them to attract direct bookings.
If budget is your major factor, it is a good idea to check out hotwire or name your price at priceline.com. The downside is you can’t choose the SPECIFIC Hotel you want; you can only give the star rating plus of course destination. Once you book, you then know the exact hotel & location.
In this case you choose the best hotel for your price.
- Care about Hotel Rating & Reviews?
Well you should if you want to choose the best hotel for your family vacation! With the amount of information on the internet you are spoilt for choice on what other travellers have to say about any hotel, resort, B & B, accommodation out there. If it has no reviews, think twice…Unless its brand new and is offering hot deals!
Note that ratings from hotel own site could be self-awarded by the owner or given by an awarding body. Find out which is which for your choice of hotel.
Usually the higher the rating the higher the price. So this criterion often times goes hand in hand with the price/budget. Choose the perfect hotel for your plans, needs and budget.
Unless you are part of a club that only focuses on 4-5* star real estate for its members, at wholesale rates.
We don’t use ratings or even reviews as a major factor in our vacation accommodation choices, but we definitely use them as guidelines!
When we went to Stalis, Crete the Anastacia Hotel had a couple of crap reviews, about its location by a main road and noisy quad bike riders.
But we felt these did not take away from the rest of the reviews or the 4 Star rating of the hotel. So we went right ahead and booked it…And we had a grand time. Goes to show that you must always make your own decision, go with your own gut instinct!
With that said, most reviews come from good meaning place by honest users. If they sound too much, overly hyped either way, ignore them! Reviews from the Hotel own sites should be taken with a pinch of salt. We usually check out reviews from Tripadviser.com and find that they are more real.
Before you choose the best hotel for you Find out the Facilities
To help your choice, find out what amenities, services and facilities on offer at your potential accommodation. It’s important to look at 3-4 hotels and compare what’s on offer within your budget.
For instance, if on a quick and very busy business trip you might not need a Fitness centre or pool. But definitely a restaurant on site. Paul goes away often for work and he is a great Fan of the Marriott Brand. In the absence of that the Staybridge Suites and Premier Inn are good basic business hotels. So, what facilities could you look out for?
- Room Types
- Disabled access
- How many Floors – very important for mobility
- A Fitness centre
- Swimming pool
- A Spa and Wellness centre
- Free Internet Access
- How many Restaurants
- Meals esp. Breakfast
- On-site Launderette etc.
All the above are factored into a hotel’s ratings and room rates! So they should be part of your criteria for choosing a hotel for your trip.
- Room Type Deserves its own Mention
When it comes to choosing the room type for us, size is actually top of the list on how to choose the best hotel. See we look at it this way: that this is the place we will rest our bodies for the duration of our stay. Where we will have our baths/shower. The place we will leave our belongings as we go out, and even eat in if we so choose.
Can you relate? So we like to know the room size, the bed size, is it sound proofed, etc.
Gosh one time we booked a hotel in Florida, the walls were that thin, we could hear the guy next door plopping in the loo and the farts…
He seems to have had a bad case of “ate the smelly fruit” or something. The grunts that came from the room…Every sound for that matter. It wasn’t nice at all. We asked to be moved. Protecting our children’s minds & our sanity lol!
No one likes to be woken up by the corridor noises as the maids get to work either…So check these things via reviews, they do tell a lot. Check the hotel website too to be sure what you might get from your Room and that’s part of the room service.
Ensure you have an En-suite…I would never book a hotel with a shared bathroom. What sizes are the family rooms, do you prefer a shower/wet room or a bath tub. Bathrobes, slippers, type of bedding? And absolutely ensure you get bath towels.
Location of the room: is it close to the lifts, stairways, any noisy parts of the hotel? If you want a quiet night in be sure to insist on a quite part of the hotel in your room choice. And of course make sure the hotel has thick walls between rooms lol. Ditto fart guy above! 🙁 Check reviews, that’s how you’ll know.
Our Final & Super tip to choose the best hotel for your vacation – Say Hello to Tingo
We know that for many people, the budget is a very important if not the deciding factor. And while we did our best to help you afford your next vacation, we know it can be hard sometimes.
So we believe you might like to check out Tingo.com, before your next hotel booking. A resource that was launched in 2012 by Smartertravel.com, powered by Expedia. They offer a price guarantee almost similar to the DreamTrips, Holiday and Flight guarantee, but for hotels.
Apparently, if you book a hotel through tingo and the price drops by $1 or more, they guarantee that they will automatically re-book and refund your money. If the rate at your hotel drops after your booking. The refund is automatic to your debit/credit card after you check out of the hotel. This could be a major cash saver for you so don’t book another hotel before you check it out…
Why, because here is the cherry from tingo, apparently the whole refund process does not require an actual booking at the lower rate. Tingo’s engine just has to find the room offered at a lower rate and you are quids in! We know hotel room rates change every day so chances of you getting a refund are pretty high, esp. in a low season.
What’s the Catch? The refund is subject to the Hotel’s cancellation policy and is only open on select rooms..!
I imagine its the reason tingo hasn’t yet beat the DreamTrips Price promise for us so far! 🙂 We continue to test it lol!
Lets Wrap this up:
In order to get the best hotel for your trip, you must make sure you check with the hotel before travel. Pick up that phone and call or send an email if you have time before your trip.
Choose what suits your needs, dreams, desires esp. if its recommended. Above all Follow your Gut Instinct, life is what you make it, whats good for the goose may not be right for the gander…! We all see things different.
RECOMMENDED: How to Afford Your Next Vacation
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Julie Syl Kalungi
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