A great hotel is the most important ingredient for an amazing travel experience. There are few better feelings than discovering quality accommodation at a fantastic price. Equally, a 50 minute walk to the beach and a stone cold breakfast buffet can really dampen the mood – so it’s important to choose wisely.
If the only stress you plan to experience is the pressure to attend your spa appointment on time, run through this hotel booking checklist before your next trip.
Know your priorities
First of all, you need to make a decision about your priorities for the visit. Before your accommodation search, make a list of the things you want and need from a great trip away. Do you prefer shiny and luxurious, or homely and traditional? Is budget the main priority, or can you afford to compromise for a hotel with strong reviews?
Similarly, planning a couples trip will bring about different needs compared with planning a party excursion, or your first travel experience with a new baby. Whether it’s your usual choice or something daring and fresh, have a clear picture of the type of accommodation you want.
No matter how great the hotel pictures look – or how fantastic the deal is – always check a map before booking a room. Hotel names can be misleading, and sometimes purposefully so. If you want to stay in the heart of a fantastic city, browse hotels by their proximity to a certain landmark right at the centre.
You should also consider other factors, like the distance from airports and public transport. Using a map can be the first stage in your hotel selection journey, or the final. The AA have a great hotel and B&B mapper feature, allowing you to view live vacancies by location.
Convenience is about more than just location. Inclusive deals and tailor-made booking options can give your trip a personal feeling, making your holiday routine easier to manage.
If you’re pushed for time, it’s even possible to book a day use hotel, providing all the luxury access, for a few hours during the evening or day. You can enjoy the spa, freshen up and dine in style – and arrive back home by evening.
For most of us, price will be a key deciding factor in hotel bookings. There are a few tricks to finding quality hotel rooms at smile-worthy prices, and the first is to remember that it’s rarely worth compromising too much on quality. There is such a thing as ‘too good to be true’ – so trust your better instincts. For a great rate, you’ll often need to compromise on another aspect – like location.
The second is in the timing: either book well in advance, or take a risk on those last-minute deals. And finally, shop around. Take some time to compare prices on various sites to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal.
A survey by J.D Power has found that several key amenities are now seen as essentials in a hotel visit: free Wifi, complimentary breakfast and premium bed linen.
Though it’s difficult to inquire about the quality of a hotel’s bed linen, you can certainly check the WiFi and breakfast arrangements prior to booking. If you need to log in or work remotely, make sure the free WiFi extends beyond the hotel lobby.
Finally, browse the online reviews! Though the digital age means even the finest of premium hotels is bound to have a negative review of some kind, it’s usually possible to assess the difference between good and bad hotels from a quick browse on the key sites.
One thing to look out for is the way a company responds to online complaints. A polite, professional response is a strong predictor of great hotel service – essential for a fantastic hotel stay.