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.
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.
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!
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.
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?