Choosing a Hotel — What’s Worked for Me

posted by Sharon January 29, 2018 39 Comments

Do you enjoy choosing a hotel for an upcoming trip? For me, this is one of the most fun parts of travel planning. But some of my friends don’t look forward to combing through the many hotel options and landing on one. Some people prefer a cruise or package vacation where everything is booked and you just show up. You have more options when you plan your own itinerary, though. Here are a few hotel planning considerations that have worked for me and may help you plan your own customized, memorable trip.

1 Location, location, location

You may know what city you’re planning to visit, but deciding where in a city to stay is a big decision that can color your whole experience. You want to be in a safe area and work within your budget. Beyond that, you may want to be near public transportation, the train station, or certain points of interest you want to see. The better situated you are, the more you’ll be able to see during your visit. And the time always seems too short, doesn’t it?!

Success story: Nuremberg

This charming German city still has much of its medieval wall intact. The wall surrounds the old section of Nuremberg, with its castle and picturesque churches. I could see from an online map that the Hotel Elch lies within the walled old town. And it was indeed perfectly located a short block from the wall and a couple of blocks from the castle.  Hotel Elch NurembergNurembergNuremberg

This imposing church was only a few blocks away, too. Hotel Elch has other great reasons to move to the top of the list of Nuremberg hotels, and the location couldn’t have been better.  Nuremberg

2 Historical interest

This is a factor in Europe, though it may not come into play in the United States. (We are a relatively “new” country.)  If I can find a hotel that’s hundreds of years old, yet somewhat updated and modern inside, I’ll go for that every time over a hotel built in the last couple of decades.

Success story: Amsterdam

The Hotel Brouwer in Amsterdam proudly declares that it was built in 1652. Before booking this delightful place, I read TripAdvisor reviews. The main drawback seemed to be that the floors were a bit slanted due to age. No problem! Our room was on the top floor with a view of the Singlet Canal. We wound up creaky stairways lined with Delft tile. The room had a gutter along the ceiling in case of flooding. The Anne Frank House was about 2 blocks away. I could not have been happier with this choice of hotel. Hotel Brouwer AmsterdamHotel Brouwer Amsterdam

Hotel Brouwer AmsterdamHotel Brouwer Amsterdam3 Loyalty rewards

In the last few years, I’ve been booking more and more through Hotels.com. At first I was skeptical that the “stay 10 nights, get one free” would really work. It does! I always check the price for a room booked directly on the hotel website, but often they are the same or only a few dollars different. So the perk is worth just a bit extra. One time I checked back on a hotel I had booked months out and the price had dropped. A call to Hotels.com got us a travel voucher for the difference. So customer service is great.

Success story: Palm Desert

Here’s one of our “free” stays in Palm Desert. Somehow we got a great deal and ended up with a 2-bedroom condo with our own little spa outside the door. Lounging poolside in the winter, soaking up the sun – that’s a relaxing getaway! Palm DesertPalm DesertPalm DesertPalm Desert

4 Travel hacking with hotel cards

This approach also had me skeptical for a while, but no more. By getting sign-up bonuses spending only what we would have anyway (and paying off any balance the same month), we have had totally free nights in the last year at a Hyatt in San Francisco, a Marriott in Anaheim, a Holiday Inn in Anaheim, and a Hilton in San Francisco.

Success story: Hilton Union Square, San Francisco

This hotel surpassed all my expectations. We were upgraded on check-in to a room on the 19th floor, breakfast from the little deli was included, and we felt right at home with the mix of casual tourists and business people in the bustling lobby. When we got the bill, the bottom line for two nights and all the food was $0.00. Hilton Union Square San FranciscoHilton Union Square San FranciscoHilton Union Square San FranciscoGolden Gate Bridge San Francisco

This just scratches the surface of choosing a hotel. Of course, apps and websites abound. I hope these ideas spark your travel planning. It’s so much fun to dream about experiencing a new place and then see those dreams come true!

How about you? Do you have some tips to share about choosing a hotel?

Linking up with Image-in-ing, Monday Escapes, Little Things ThursdayWednesday Around the WorldThe Good, the Random, the Fun, Through My Lens, Seasons, Our World Tuesday, Photo Friday, Travel Photo Thursday, City Tripping, Weekend Wanderlust, Faraway Files, The Weekly Postcard, Wanderful Wednesday, and Weekend Travel Inspiration.

California Globetrotter

 

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39 Comments

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Tamar Strauss-Benjamin January 29, 2018 at 10:03 am

You are so travel savvy!

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image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup January 29, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Beautiful photos and a very informative post. Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2018/01/fun-with-textures-in-photoshop.html

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Carol January 29, 2018 at 6:13 pm

I stand in awe of your travel adventures. Good tips! Pinned and shared

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Sharon February 5, 2018 at 1:54 am

Thank you, Carol!

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Lydia C. Lee January 29, 2018 at 8:44 pm

Great post. I do most of those things! Ha!

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Jesh StG January 29, 2018 at 9:20 pm

This was a fun post, Sharon! Union Square hotel – gotto remember that one! In Amsterdam we have good friends, and they would be insulted if we would not stay with them overnight, but a great reference if people ask us! Thanks for sharing this every practical info about the hotels with all Seasons! Have a beautiful week – hope the weather is better than her in Northern Cal.:)

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Photo Cache January 29, 2018 at 10:03 pm

What a great post! Are you going to do a post about fails too?

Worth a Thousand Words

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Sharon February 5, 2018 at 1:55 am

That’s a great idea! Fortunately I haven’t had too many so far 🙂

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Yogi January 29, 2018 at 10:20 pm

I have to agree with you about location. I’ve been told many times things like “stay at the airpork, it’s only five miles from downtown.” It might as well be on a different planet. There is nothing like being within easy walking distance of what you want to see.
We scour and analyze the TripAdvisor reviews to see what the real deal is.

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Sharon February 5, 2018 at 1:56 am

Yes, now and then it’s best to stay near the airport, but the hotels are usually nondescript. We did stay near the Zurich airport because we arrived in the evening after about 24 hours of travel, and comfort and convenience were top considerations!

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Kelleyn Rothaermel January 30, 2018 at 9:24 am

Location is really important. We just spent a day in Strasbourg and while parking was tricky it was nice to have a room where we could just walk out our door and be a few minutes away from all the sights. Thanks for sharing your tips!

http://travelingbugwiththreeboys-kelleyn.blogspot.de/2018/01/strasbourg.html

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California Globetrotter January 30, 2018 at 9:39 am

Great tips! I always love finding hotels in historic city centers or have a quaintness about it. But my husband likes further out bc we drive most places and need to find a hotel with parking. You win some, you lose some I guess! #CityTripping

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Sharon February 5, 2018 at 1:58 am

I know what you mean! We had a Disneyland pass last year and had to choose between walking to Disneyland and paying parking at the hotel vs. driving in and paying at Disney. It was a wash so we did both at different times . . .

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sccollections January 30, 2018 at 1:06 pm

Nice illustrated post. I like that.

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Su-sieee! Mac January 31, 2018 at 2:32 am

I’m going to remember Union Square hotel, too. Thanks for the tips. I prefer B&Bs and old hotels myself.

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Sara January 31, 2018 at 3:33 pm

All of these things come into play for me, too. I’m definitely more about the location than anything else, but I look at loyalty programs (elite status perks are nice), too. My husband is getting into the credit card/points game, so I think we’ll start using that to plan our travel, too. Glad to hear the hotels.com program is legitimate. That’s part of his strategy, too. lol. #Citytripping

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Sharon February 5, 2018 at 1:59 am

Hotels.com has been great for us. We are booking our next trip through them if possible. Those free nights are such a good perk!

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rupam { xhobdo } February 1, 2018 at 5:15 am

Beautiful place. Awesome pics.

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Elizabeth (Wander Mum) February 1, 2018 at 11:50 pm

Well done on utilising the hotel cards! We should really do that – seems absolutely worth it. We always like a good locations for city breaks! Thanks for linking #citytripping

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Sharon February 5, 2018 at 2:01 am

The Hilton has been the best for us. Several free nights at pleasant hotels. Hyatt and Marriott free nights are great, too! We just stayed in Palm Desert at a Marriott for free and it was so relaxing!

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Ava Meena February 2, 2018 at 2:36 pm

Choosing hotels in the USA is typically a lot less fun than in Europe. We have stayed in some really interesting places though. We stayed at a Doubletree recently and they will give you warm chocolate cookies upon request – as often as you’d like! That was bit dangerous to be honest, ha! I’m glad to hear what has worked for you! I like to use the hotel booking platforms (we use booking.com) for the rewards but also for the excellent cancellation policies. Since I have an autoimmune disease that can flare up at anytime I am more drawn to being able to cancel without a lot of fees. #FarawayFiles

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Sharon February 5, 2018 at 2:04 am

Yes, Ava, that’s a good point. I always book refundable, though it usually costs a bit more. I had to change an entire trip to Europe when I was diagnosed with cancer. Everything was easy to move except a Eurostar ticket. We recently had to cancel a short getaway when our little kitty got sick. Life is so uncertain, I have to know I can opt to cancel. Hope you have a good week and feel good :).

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Deborah Regen February 3, 2018 at 1:22 am

In general I prefer a small guest home or a B&B especially in a more rural setting. But if in a city, I agree that location may rise to the top of the list and that likely means a hotel of some kind. If it is for just a few nights, that’s okay with me. Stressing over such matters in decision-making is a good way to kill the fun of travel, so I guess I don’t have patience for travelers who do that often. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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Sandra February 3, 2018 at 8:43 am

Choosing a hotel can be overwhelming if you don’t know a place. But I’m with you on the first tip – location, location, location. I’m always willing to spend a little (or sometimes a lot) more for the convenience of being right where I want to be.
#TheWeeklyPostcard

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Hilary February 3, 2018 at 3:53 pm

You’ve got me dreaming! And what good tips. Are you saying you have used hotel credit cards? I’ve been thinking I need to choose a card with better travel perks, but we only use one and the rates are so good I’ve been hesitant to change.Your view from the room in Amsterdam was perfect! Thank you for sharing on #farawayfiles

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Sharon February 5, 2018 at 2:07 am

Hilary, Yes, I have some hotel cards and we have Chase cards that have Ultimate Rewards. We also have American, Delta, and United for airfare. So far we’ve used the Chase points for airfare and the hotel cards for hotels. Hilton is my favorite. We had a lot of medical bills so I got different cards to pay them and reach the initial spend. As long as I keep my spreadsheet up to date, it’s been a valuable system!

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Kay L. Davies February 3, 2018 at 7:40 pm

What an amazing post! There is so much information and so many helpful hints, I feel I should save this for future use. Crossing my fingers that my computer will cooperate.
And your photos…words fail me.
Kay
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

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Lori February 3, 2018 at 8:54 pm

I have never thought about this before, but excellent suggestions! Thank you! I am checking out the AMS hotel for our trip this summer!

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Ruth February 4, 2018 at 1:42 am

You are such an expert planner! I am not sure why some people are scared or adamant about booking their own accommodations (or planning other aspects of a trip). I get so many questions about how I do that. I do not pick a hotel is complicated. Booking sites have a lot of info about what you want to book. To me, location is important (I want the place to be close to the attractions). Cleanliness and safety are important too. #WeekendWanderlust

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Sharon February 5, 2018 at 2:10 am

Thanks, Ruth. To me, the planning is fun. I love dreaming about visiting a place while I’m searching for a hotel. I have a feeling you and I are a lot alike in that way!

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Harmony, Momma To Go February 5, 2018 at 3:04 am

we try to do points – both loyalty and credit card. We have done pretty well with that strategy!

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Catherine's Cultural Wednesdays February 5, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Great tips! We are fans of loyalty schemes but have not thought of the hotel cards before. #CityTripping

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Staci @ The Voyageer February 5, 2018 at 6:52 pm

Hotel Brouwer in Amsterdam sounds like it was so lovely! Pinning it for my “someday” trip. #Weekendwanderlust

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Anda February 6, 2018 at 4:55 am

Hahaha, I’m one of those who doesn’t actually enjoy booking a hotel, Sharon. I do it because I don’t trust anybody else to choose a hotel for me (I am very hard to please!) I waste so much time trying to find the best price and the best location, that in the end it’s probably not worth the hassle. You seem to be a very good planner, though. Good for you! #THeWeeklyPostcard

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Craft Candidate - Kahden talon väkeä February 7, 2018 at 3:01 pm

Your pictures made me long for a holiday… 🙂

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Edith February 7, 2018 at 6:09 pm

These are great tips! I agree with you that location is so important! I used to pay attention to saving money more, but realized that there are ways to get cheap accommodation in great locations. Sometimes you just have to search a lot and find deals ahead of time. My other big one is Wi-Fi! We’re on the road now traveling through Asia, and I always read the reviews like a crazy person making sure they say the Wi-Fi is good so I can work on the blog. Haha! I get so frustrated when it doesn’t. So for me its 1. Cleanliness 2. Wi-Fi 3. Location and the obvious-price. When I get all 3 things it makes me so happy haha!

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Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) February 8, 2018 at 3:11 pm

Great tips and stories for choosing the hotel that works. Loyalty seems to be the key which I find helps. Thanks for sharing! #WeekendWanderlust

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Jaque Christo February 9, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Thank you for the post on how to choose a hotel. I definitely like the idea to take into consideration the location of the hotel and how close it is to other points of interest. If you will be needing the train then maybe you should find a hotel within walking distance to it for example.

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Erin Gustafson | Oregon Girl Around the World February 15, 2018 at 7:17 am

I will admit that while we are still traveling as a full family of five (with two of three children taller than me!) I don’t look to hotels as a viable option right now. Apartments and home rentals work better for space and amenities. We love perusing the local market and having the opportunity to cook a few meals in always helps with travel budgets. Not that I don’t love traveling with my children in tow, I can look forward to a future of cozy historic boutique hotels on the horizon. I love the look of your Dutch stay! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

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