Staying at a hotel can be a wonderful experience—assuming you choose the right place. The wrong hotel, however, can be a major damper on a trip. While there’s no exact formula for picking a hotel, there are some key points to consider before booking. Knowing what to look for when choosing hotel accommodations will make your stay better. 

Choose a Hotel That Has the Right Location for Your Trip

People tend to stress the importance of location when talking about real estate—so much it’s sometimes the only word that comes out of someone’s mouth (location, location, location!). But this isn’t just important when buying a house or condo. It’s essential when booking a hotel as well. 

Where are the main places you want to go when on your trip? Ideally, you’ll want to be within walking distance. If that’s not an option, it’s a good idea to make sure public transportation or other options are readily available for you. Some hotels will offer shuttle services for patrons. Be sure to check the terms and frequency of shuttles before deciding on a place to stay. 

Without convenient transportation, you could end up spending lots of unnecessary time simply getting from your hotel to your actual destination. Transport cost might even lead you to spending more money trying to get a better deal in a less central location.

You should also ensure your hotel is in a safe place. Doing a bit of background research on your destination can go a long way, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. 

Stylish hotel with palm trees and a courtyard pool.
There’s no sense in staying at a hotel with a pool like this if you won’t have time to enjoy it.

What Amenities Are Offered by the Hotel?

Staying at a hotel doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. At a good one, you might even get a better night’s sleep than in your own bed. It’s a good idea to look at some of the amenities offered by the hotel before you book a room. 

Do you want a pool? Free breakfast? Room service? Something opulent? The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, for instance, offers a “recovery concierge” during Mardi Gras for those who drink a bit too much the previous night. While all these probably sound great, the more lavish the add-ons, the more expensive the room. 

It’s helpful to understand what things are really important to you for your stay. If you’re only planning to use your room to sleep, you might want to go as minimal as possible. But if you’re someone who spends a decent amount of time at the hotel when on a trip, those amenities can make things much more enjoyable. 

What Have Other People Said about the Hotel (Recently)?

Your fellow traveler is your friend when it comes to finding the right hotel. It’s impossible to tell how your stay will be based on a hotel’s website. They’re going to give you the best possible representation of their rooms and amenities. 

If things look unappealing even on the hotel’s own branded materials, then you should really run the other way. However, most places can make their services look good online. 

Here’s where other travelers become so important. User reviews are going to give a different kind of insight into how things work at the establishment. You can often get a good idea of underlying issues with a hotel by reading through recent reviews. Seeing the same complaint over and over from different people makes it much more likely you’ll also experience that negative element. 

It can be tough to know when a review is real or intended to deceive. Due to this, it’s wise to look more for perpetual issues than anything else when evaluating these. TripAdvisor and Google are two of the top sites people tend to use for checking reviews.  

How Long Do You Want to Stay at the Hotel?

The length of your stay is a significant factor in what you should look for in a hotel. Staying somewhere overnight while on a road trip is much different than spending 10 days at a hotel while on vacation. Amenities are going to be even more important when you’re spending a prolonged amount of time at a hotel. 

There are also important options to consider if you’re only wanting to book a room for a very short amount of time. Business travelers or people only staying in a location for certain hours might not want to book a full hotel stay. In this case, you can consider alternative modular time bands and daytime acccommodation options from HotelsByDay. 

Booking a hotel room for shorter stays is super helpful for travel inconveniences (layovers, redeyes), work-related needs (preparing for meetings, working remotely), or even self-care (naps, showers, soaks in the tub). Someone daycationing in a city might just want a place to rest for a little while. If you don’t need the overnight stay, taking this route allows you to get all the comforts of a hotel without having to pay full price. 

Odie the dog relaxes at San Diego’s Pembry Hotel on a Sunday morning.
You know it’s a better time when the pup comes along.

Is the Hotel Pet-Friendly?

If you love your pet, you want it to be able to travel with you. Many hotels allow dogs or other pets to stay in their rooms. But this isn’t the case with all establishments. There also might be size and breed restrictions that come into play even if pets are allowed. 

Furthermore, you might have some issues with management if your pet makes a lot of noise when you leave the room. It’s a good idea to contact a hotel before booking if there’s any chance you might be in violation of their pet code.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Traveling on Airplanes with Pets

How Does It Compare to Other Hotels in the Area?

Like anything else, hotels run within a market. Your best option is going to give you what you want for the lowest price. It’s wise to do a bit of shopping around in order to find the hotel that most accurately reflects this for you. 

Simply picking the first one that looks good might work out for you. But how do you know there’s not a much better option out there? Comparing amenities, location, and price will let you find the top choice for your trip. 

Is There Parking at the Hotel?

Many people take parking for granted. In some areas, there’s enough space to make parking an afterthought. With some highly compact cities, however, parking can be a real issue.

Anyone planning to drive to their hotel should verify that there are parking options. Also look to see if parking is included with the room, or comes with an extra charge. Paying for parking can lead to you spending much more than anticipated during your stay.

If you’re booking a hotel, you want the best possible option. Don’t roll the dice when picking hotel accommodations. Taking all these factors into account before you book will help land you the top fit for your stay. 

In a last-minute pinch? HotelsByDay always has your back, with same-day time-bands across North America, the United Kingdom, and most recently, Israel.

Booking flexibility is a key thing to look for when prioritizing hotel accommodations.

Image Credits: 

Featured photo: “Smooth Hotel Research” by Elijah O’Donnell via Unsplash

“The Saguaro Palm Springs” by Aran Mtnez via Unsplash

“Odie the Pup, Relaxing” by Roberto Nickson via Unsplash

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Andy Holsteen

Andy Holsteen writes all sorts of things—both for work and pleasure. He loves traveling to new places, and hopes to see Berlin and Santiago in the not-so-distant future.