Your hotel is one of the most important aspects of your trip. Whether you’re planning a vacation or a business trip, the quality and experience of the hotel will determine whether your trip was fun or tragic. It’s true that the more you pay, the better hotel you’ll get, but you don’t always need to strain your wallet to get the best hotel experience.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when booking a hotel for your upcoming trip
Not checking the exact hotel location
Let’s say you’re going to Rome. Municipio III is the best area in the city: it has the best restaurants, bars, clubs, and popular city attractions. So, you look for hotels in Municipio III, Rome, and book the one that was cheapest, or the one that looked most appealing in the pictures.
But when you actually checked in to your hotel, you found that it was located on the highway and surrounded by busy roads. Stepping out from your hotel was not only annoying but dangerous, too.
When booking hotels, most people just take a note of the popular places nearby. But they often tend to overlook the exact location of the hotel, what is it that’s around it, and would it even be fun and peaceful to stay there? The easiest way to avoid this mistake is to see the site for yourself.
Most hotel booking sites provide a map view of the area. If the view is not clear, head to Google Earth and take a look at real-time images. It will give you a clear idea about where your hotel is located and what’s around.
Skipping the review sites
The best strategy to find a room you love staying in is to know as much as possible about the property. Once a hotel catches your attention, head to different review sites, and see what people who’ve stayed there before say about it. In general, you should look for characteristics like noise, food, Wi-Fi, rooms, and the quality of service.
And scanning review sites is not always about the negative. You may discover good things as well. For example, the hotel you’re searching for might be offering a bike rental program, so you don’t have to go out searching for rentals. Sometimes, a hotel may provide perks and services that’ll help you save time and money.
Shuttle service to the airport
When you visit somewhere, you should always use local transportation, as it puts you among locals in a quick and easy way. However, you should not rely on public transport when you want to go to and from the airport. If you’re heading the airport, you might already have massive luggage.
Taxis and Ubers are an option, but they can sometimes quite expensive. Most airports are located far from the city center, so booking a private cab can strain your wallet. So, always look for a hotel that offers a complimentary shuttle.
Not checking parking cost and availability
Most tourists prefer renting a car or bike when they visit a new place. Though it’s a great idea, renting a car means you’ll have to find a place to park it. Check if your hotel has a parking facility. Some hotels might not have parking facilities available at all. And the ones that have might charge anywhere between $10 and $35 per night.
But parking your vehicle outside the hotel is even worse. Not only will you need to pay more, but there will also be a risk of someone breaking into your car. Moreover, you’ll need to find a new spot every time. Therefore, make sure the hotel you book has a parking facility.
Overlooking the breakfast
There can be a significant per-night difference between a hotel that offers a continental breakfast and a hotel that offers a 40-dollar buffet. You can easily find if the hotel offers complimentary breakfast or not by visiting their website.
Else, you can call the front desk and inquire about the breakfast. Hotels that offer free breakfast are often more expensive, and sure you can find an inexpensive cafe nearby. But nothing beats the convenience of a free hotel breakfast.
Taking internet access for granted
It’s the digital era, and you need internet access as badly as you need breakfast, shuttle, and parking. You might be tempted to save ten bucks by booking a hotel with no internet. But saving ten bucks here and paying 20 dollars a day for the internet doesn’t seem like saving. However, some hotels may charge an extra fee to provide internet access. So, make sure to check this closely when booking a hotel.
In addition, some hotels nowadays only provide limited access to the internet, i.e., two or three devices at max per paying customer. And most people are used to connecting at least two devices, at least (smartphone and laptop). This won’t be a problem if you’re traveling alone, but it can be an issue if more than one person is staying in the room.
Booking from third-parties if you’re a program member
If you’re a hotel loyalty program member, don’t book from anywhere but directly through the hotel. You won’t pony up any points if you book your stay through any third parties, like hotel booking sites, travel agents, etc. If you’re not sure about how the rewards program of a hotel works, call their front desk.
Not signing up for the rewards program
This tip is specific to people who travel a lot. Some hotels have their chains across the globe, like Mariot and Hyatt. By signing up for the rewards program, you can enjoy complimentary benefits, like breakfast, Wi-Fi, etc. In some cases, you might also get some soft benefits which are not mentioned, like a free upgrade to a better room.
Not asking for a better rate
You may get the chance to negotiate rates when booking through a hotel booking site or a travel agent. But if you’re booking directly from the hotel, don’t be afraid to ask for a better rate. Negotiating for a better price can be even easier if you’re a member of a loyalty program. In most cases, you’ll get a better rate; you just need to ask.
Not calling the hotel directly
The booking information about the hotel may vary on different booking sites. If a hotel is showing no rooms available or really high rates, you should call the hotel directly and ask. The front desk often has the updated, real-time information about cancelations and additional rooms that might not show up on booking sites. And you can call for even a simple query like, “Is internet access free?” or “Is breakfast included?”
Not asking politely
Most hotels are willing to go the extra mile for you if you ask politely. Many front desk reps will make restaurant recommendations, give directions, call for taxis, help with public transportation, and even more. All you need to do is ask.
If there’s anything you want to take away from this blog, it’s this: get in touch with the hotel directly if in doubt. Most people face problems because the hotel experience is different from what’s mentioned on booking sites.