Hotel Tips

On a trip, your hotel will not be just where you unwind after a busy day.  It will be your base of operations, the place where you get started in the morning, and a safe refuge at night.

On the other hand, unless you are looking for complete solitude away from the rest of the world, you will probably spend most of your waking time away from your hotel. 

Here are some tips on choosing a hotel for your trip:

Hotel Tips - How to Book Your Room

  • Stay with what you are used to, especially if you are traveling out of the country.  Do you expect Westin or Hyatt quality in your rooms?  Don't try to save money by dropping down to a much lower quality room that may also be in a rough neighborhood.

  • Some cities are just expensive, and there is nothing you can do about it.  New York, London, Paris, and Venice are all examples.  Accept it, and adjust your budget accordingly.

  • Whenever possible, book directly with the hotel.  Most hotels now feature online booking, and generally you will find their prices as low, or lower, than you will find elsewhere. 

  • If you have several months (or more) before you travel, try this strategy for booking hotels at low prices.  First, find the best combination of a hotel where you would want to stay, and a price that is reasonable - in other words, an "okay" hotel you would be satisfied with.  Go ahead and book a room there, but be sure there is no penalty if you cancel a week or more prior to your trip.  Then draw up a list of five or six other hotels (once again, where you want to stay), including at least one that is considerably more expensive and nicer than the one you have booked.  Keep checking the hotels' Internet sites at least once a week.  Chances are, at least one of the hotels will run a limited time, special offer that will be very favorable to you.  If they do, book a room with them, verify that your room is reserved at the rate you were expecting, and then cancel your first reservation.  We were able to stay at one of the top hotels in England at a very reasonable price, using this strategy, and we booked a luxury hotel in Amsterdam for half price and free breakfast!  Most recently, we booked a suite at a hotel in downtown Boston for $200 per night.  Remember -- try, try, try -- keep visiting the hotel's website.  Even if you don't find a better deal, you still have your first reservation, it is at a property where you want to stay, and you'll know there isn't a better deal out there.

Hotel Tips - How to Book an International Hotel

  • First, the strategy listed above to get the best possible room rate works very well with international bookings via the Internet.

  • Keep in mind there is a currency conversion.  Be sure you know how much the hotel is really costing you in American dollars.  You can quickly convert just about any currency to American dollars at www.xe.com.

  • In some countries, the government provides a rating system for hotels.  The good news is you have an objective rating of hotels, based on consistent criteria, to help eliminate the guesswork in choosing someplace to stay.  The bad news is you don't really know what the criteria are, and unfortunately many countries' standards are not up to what you are used to.  A three star hotel in many countries, for example, would be just passable in the U.S. (as in "Let's pass this one up and stay somewhere else.")  Even some of the five star hotels, the best they have to offer, will fall short of some of the American hotels that we would not even consider to be "luxury" properties.

  • And that brings us to a very important point.  Be prepared to lower your expectations.  Small rooms and plain furnishings are commonplace in many countries.

  • Confirm, confirm, confirm.  Don't take anything for granted.  Some of the good, solid mainstream hotels in London, for example, do not have private baths - you share a bathroom or use one down the hall.  Older, but quaint, properties in many countries are not air conditioned, and do not have elevators.  Visit their websites, check very carefully for what you assume will be there, and then e-mail the hotel to clear up any questions you may have.
     

 

Useful Links

Fodors Travel Guide - Hotels

Frommer's Travel Guide - Hotels

Mobil Travel Guide Hotel Ratings (US hotels only)

Official Amsterdam Hotel Ratings

Official Italian Hotel Ratings

 

 

 
 

 

           
           

 

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