Eight Things to Look For When Booking a Hotel

    What do you look for when booking a hotel?  Face it, vacations can be fun, relaxing, and revitalizing.  But to be all those things, a little prior planning is also required.  The better prepared you are for your vacation, the less you have to worry about once you get there.  And no one likes getting to a hotel and finding out they are disappointed in their accommodations.  That sets the entire mood of your vacation off all wrong. The hotel where you rest your head is focal because this is where you retreat at the end of a busy day,  where you go to relax from all the hustle and bustle of the day. This is where you can decompress, regroup and plan the next stage of your vacation.  It’s where you can spend some simple family time.  Or for some people, it’s merely a place to rest their heads between activities.  Whatever your priorities are, planning for your needs is important to make sure those needs are met.  After all, this is your home away from home for however long your vacation lasts.  Wherever you choose to sleep, it’s important to feel safe and comfortable- lack of sleep does not make for a relaxing, restful vacation. Sounds intimidating?  It’s not. Don’t be afraid! It’s not that overwhelming and scary! A few simple pointers listed here will get you started on the vacation getaway of your dreams.

  1.  Check the reviews of the hotels you are interested in
  2. Look for ratings or scores on the cleanliness
  3. Check to see if there are reports or reviews about the friendliness of the staff
  4. Price!
  5. Make sure the location works for you
  6. Check the dates available
  7. Check out the amenities offered
  8. Security and Safety

    These eight points are a few examples of what to look for when booking a hotel. A little more delving into each of these points will help you a great deal in planning the perfect stay for the ideal hotel stay. Examining them more in detail will give you the insight to start your search for the ideal hotel for your needs.  

Check the Reviews

            Whatever search engine you use should have reviews available for each hotel you’re interested in,  Say, you’re looking for a hotel in Daytona, FL, you would search perhaps, “hotels in Daytona, FL” Then, all sorts of options would pop up. Which to choose now? Reviews are usually shown by “stars”, such as a scoring system of five stars, where five stars are excellent and one star is very poor, or else there are actually written reviews or questions by customers both past and potential.  Ratings may be based on a number of factors, many of which we will be touching on later, such as cleanliness, friendliness of staff, location, and price. The written reviews are comments made by past customers sharing their experiences at a particular hotel, both good and bad. Questions are asked by potential customers and answered sometimes by the hotel staff or prior customers, and may answer your questions as well. Using reviews is a useful tool for forming an impression of a place you’ve never been.


     No one likes walking into a hotel room and immediately being assuaged by the smell of rot, mold, or smoke when you’ve requested a nonsmoking room.  Bedbugs, mold, broken furniture, broken appliances, lumpy mattresses, soiled linens- all of these are sure to ruin a vacation and make a terrible first impression.  The best thing to do is to prepare and avoid such places in the first place.  Here is another time when reviews and ratings are your new best friend. Past patrons can sometimes be brutally honest about the living conditions in hotels and will nitpick to the extreme about every complaint.

Friendliness of Staff

            Once again, reviews and ratings are a great source for checking on the friendliness of the staff.  Imagine if you will, walking into a hotel, and the first person you meet is surly, rude, and altogether disagreeable.  That would set a bad tone for your entire stay and you most definitely would try to avoid contact with that person in the future.  It makes a bad first impression.  And those types of people are rarely willing to be helpful either.  When you stay at a hotel, you want to be greeted by warm, friendly, sincerely happy faces. A warm welcome and courteous disposition as they check you in and answer all your questions, explaining policies and giving directions. These are the people you will feel comfortable coming back to if you have future questions or need help. Doormen, security, and housekeeping make an impact on your stay as well and your interactions with them, if necessary, will be important if they are friendly and helpful as well. 


Some people may consider price the most important variable.  If it is too expensive for them to stay at a location, then they can’t go at all  Accommodations often take up the biggest chunk of your vacation budget, especially depending upon how many nights you stay. Most hotel booking search engines have a filter that allows you to set the price range so you can stay within the budget you are looking at.  But don’t forget those fees when you’re looking: resort fees, parking fees, taxes. You also have to remember to include activities, fuel, and food in your budget too, so getting the correct price for your hotel stay is a priority. 

Location! Location! Location!

Of course, no one wants to spend their entire vacation in a car, train, Uber, plane, etc. So location is vitally important for your hotel as well.  Most people want to stay as close to their destination as possible and many hotel search engines will provide the distance to their destination for them. However, proximity to attractions often comes at a premium and the hotels closest to big attractions are often more expensive.


            Then, of course, we can’t rely on the fates to smile upon us and hope that the times we want to go on vacation are available.  We have to make sure there is availability at the specific time we need or want to go at the location we want to go. It doesn’t help us at all if the hotel only has availability the week after Christmas when we are trying to plan a family get-together the week of Christmas. Nor does it help if we’ve already asked for a certain week off and the hotel location of our choice doesn’t have the rooms we want available. A little coordination of dates and checking the hotel availability before making concrete plans can save you a headache later. 

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            And you also want to make sure that the hotel that you choose has the amenities that you need,  Do you have kids? Does it have a pool? Playground ? Video arcade? Kid-friendly restaurant?  Do they have a restaurant or room service at all? Kid-friendly rooms (not filled with priceless art or artwork). Do you require handicapped-accessible rooms? Do they even have them? If they don’t, will wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters fit through the doorways and in the elevators? Do they have stairs or elevators? Are nightly turn-down service and daily housekeeping provided? Do they offer a shuttle service from local airports or to local attractions? Do they provide free or paid parking? Do they have non-smoking rooms or is the entire hotel non-smoking? Do they have a smoking designated area?  Do they have balconies or patios and what are the views (which also can affect prices)? These are a few of the most common questions that people ask if a hotel provides for their convenience and comfort.


            In this day and age, it pays to be a little more aware of our surroundings, even on vacation,  Some questions to consider for the safety conscious: do the doors have safety deadbolts? Does the hotel have security and night security or a night desk clerk? Is parking in a garage, on the street, in an open lot, or in a gated lot?  Do they have in-room safes for valuables? Are there in-room telephones?  Are the walkways lit, interior or exterior? All of these things might relieve the minds of the more security-conscious folk.

There are several things to consider when choosing the perfect hotel for your vacation.  Some people consider it too much of a headache or a game of chance whether you get the hotel of your dreams or nightmares. But a few basic preparation steps will make you more confident that you have made the right choice for you or you and your family to have the absolute best time you can possibly have, and a safe, relaxing place to come back to at the end of your day of fun. Hope you have a great vacation and that you find the hotel of your dreams.

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Linda Aiken

Retired soccer mom; Mom of "the boy" (Gabriel); SAHM; and mom to one furbaby, Leo, who rules the house!

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