My top tips for booking a hotel
I love to travel and the planning part is always a great joy to me. The thrill of looking up destinations, the attractions I could visit, the restaurants and bars I would look forward to spending my evenings in but the important bit above all else is the hotel. In a restaurant you can leave and not go back if you don’t like the food or service, you can leave a bar once you finish your drink if you don’t like the atmosphere, you can even exit an attraction if it isn’t as exciting or interesting as first thought. It is a lot of bother to leave and find somewhere else to stay if you don’t like the hotel. Your room will be your refuge after a long day with a hot bath or shower before changing into your pajamas and climbing into a comfortable bed to have what should be the best nights sleep you have ever had, this is why a hotel is so important.
Nowadays there are dozens of sites saying they will compare hotels for you, “all the prices in one place” I believe is the slogan of one, but at the end of the day, these sites also take commission if you book through them. They want you to use their site so that they get paid as well. I use these sites purely to see what hotels are in the area that I’m looking at, once I have an idea of the hotels I would be interested in, I then look up the hotel website. A lot of the time it is cheaper than the comparing websites and you will know that all of the money is going straight to the hotel.
My very best travelling tool that I have is Trip Advisor. I don’t book a hotel until I look on Trip Advisor to see what people have written because a lot of the time they are very honest reviews. Don’t just look at the star rating, read the reviews, especially the newest ones to see if there has been any recent problems at the hotel.
I remember one occasion that I found a holiday online that was £159 each for an all inclusive stay at a hotel for a week in Spain in 8 months time. Of course the post got my immediately attention but there was something in the back of my mind saying there had to be something wrong, why was a holiday so far in advance so cheap? I soon found out when I had a look at the hotel on Trip Adviser and not only did it have 1 star but the recent reviews were shocking. They had rude staff, bedbugs, bland food, dirty rooms, a swimming pool full of bugs and dirt. No matter how cheap the holiday was, the hotel was definitely not worth it.
I use Google Maps a lot, it’s another of my best travelling tools as it helps me plot out where I want to go as well as important places that I will need like transportation and attractions as well as the hotel. If you pick a hotel that doesn’t have an airport shuttle service, you will have to get a taxi or public transport to and from the hotel. Using Maps will help you work out how far and how long a car ride from the airport is to the hotel and Google Maps will also tell you how to do the journey on public transport. Maps will also tell you if you can walk to attractions or restaurants that you want to go to so that you can pick a hotel that is central or near to the things you want to see.
Be Honest With Yourself
Everyone is different, I have stayed in 5 star hotels and I have stayed in student accommodation which was close to being a hostel, I believe that it all depends on the reason for the trip. If I am going to London for a shopping weekend with my best friend and know that we won’t be in the hotel much, I don’t mind going cheap and cheerful seeing as it will just be a bed and possibly breakfast in the morning. If I am going on a much needed holiday, I like to spend that little bit extra to have real comfort seeing as I would be staying there for a week or 2. I like to make sure I will have a comfortable bed, I can get over 1 night in a slightly uncomfortable bed but a week or more would not fair well for my back and hip. Plus, I like to know that I will like the food, if I pick an all inclusive holiday and then find out that I don’t like the food, I would end up wasting all of my spending money on eating out.
Don’t Book For A Discount
Some hotels say they will give a discount if you stay with them, don’t let this be an immediate decider on your booking as it doesn’t mean you are getting a cheaper rate. Still check other hotels as they still might be cheaper even after the discount.
Don’t Always Return To A Previous Hotel
I have been burnt a few times by returning to a hotel that I had previously had a great stay at. One example that I can give you is of a hotel in London near Earls Court, my husband and I stayed there for a signing convention. We had stayed for the whole weekend and it was fantastic, couldn’t have been better. The next year we decided to stay there again but because we had had such a great stay the year before, I didn’t bother looking on Trip Advisor to see if the hotel had changed. The first night was fine but the second night, my husband and I were sat on the bed watching TV when the bed gave in and collapsed. My husband lifted up the mattress and it looked like the bed had been repaired several times as there was nails and odd bits of wood holding it up. The staff were great and gave us another room but seeing as it was late, we just got into the room and went to bed. I received a call at 3am from my friends, who were also staying in the hotel, saying that they were coming up to our room as they had moved out of their room. I woke up my husband and when our friends arrived at our room, they told us how they had woken up to being covered in bedbugs and when they checked the bed under the sheets, it was dirty and disgusting. My husband and I jumped out of our bed and found we had bedbugs too but not only that, my husband sat on the end of the bed and got his foot impaled on a nail that was sticking out the bottom of the bed. We also found that one of the bedside table drawers looked like it was stuck together with pink chewing gum, the hairdryer in the bathroom was melted, there was a huge stain covering most of the mattress that was dark brown, there was a rat trap under the radiator and when I open the curtains there was a dead pigeon that looked like it had been there a while. We all packed up our things and went down to reception. After a heated argument from the staff and waiting an hour and a half from the manager to arrive only to find out that he had been asleep in one of the rooms the whole time, we got our money back and managed to get another hotel. I was quite shocked that our amazing little find of a hotel had turned into a nightmare within a year. When we looked online for reviews, all of the warnings were there and I felt a complete fool for not looking before making the second booking.
Know The Ways You Can Pay
There are a number of ways that you can pay for a hotel now. You can save up and book a hotel with the full fee, pay with a deposit and then pay off gradually or pay when you check-in, make sure you know which method the hotel uses and which you want to do.
Some people find it less of a bother if you just pay the full fee so you don’t have to think about it again. Others like the idea of booking with a deposit and then being given time to pay off the rest so that they know that they have a booking. Making a booking and then paying when you check-in can be a weight off your mind too. All methods are perfectly fine but sometimes you have to pay a little extra if you want to pay over time so make sure you check that before completing the booking.
I can not big up this website enough, I love using it as I can book hotels well in advance, it can be very cheap, some hotels let you book for £1 deposit and you don’t have to pay until 2 weeks before you are due to check-in. You can pay as little or as much as you want to as long as it is paid by the due date that they give you when you make the booking.
This is one of the sites that I use to make hotel bookings but it is normally a last resort for bookings that I am making in advance. You need to make sure that you check every details of a hotel before making a booking, they take your card details for the booking and some hotels like to try the card either by charging £1 or a pre-authorised payment for the first nights stay where they don’t actually take the money, it is just earmarked with your bank like a pending payment but it is taken off after a few days. The problem I find is that some hotels don’t put in the listing that they do this, I have had it twice that I have made a booking to pay when I check-in and then get an email 2 days later saying the booking has been cancelled by the hotel as they tried my card and couldn’t take the money for the first night. I also had the unfortunate experience of booking a hotel, I cancelled the booking the next day as I found out that my husband had already made a hotel booking for me and a few days later, the hotel earmarked the money for the first night leaving me with £4 in my bank account. I called the hotel but they wouldn’t talk to me, my bank said they couldn’t do anything about it and Booking.com just wanted to tell me the payment processes instead of helping me. I had to wait a week to get the money in-earmarked and after I called the hotel and threatened them with legal action. Even after this mishap, I have had plenty of good experiences where I have had no trouble or any problems with the hotel.
I hope my little tips help you in your future hotel bookings.