Are you planning that next dream vacation? Heading out of town for a fab family reunion? A road trip in your near future? Will you be staying in a hotel? Then you need to read this post now! Don’t book that next hotel stay until you’ve reviewed each and every one of these seven checks. Ensure you are getting exactly what you want – and don’t want – out of that hotel.
1. Check Location on Google Maps
The location of your hotel can make – or break – that vacation experience. Do you expect to be in the center of all the action? Remote and rustic more your style? A beachside retreat with water just steps away what you want to wake up to? Are the sights you want to explore within walking distance? All this, and more, can be answered with a Google Maps review.
Simply enter in the hotel’s address into Google Maps, and boom! A plethora of hotel location information is right at your fingertips, right down to what the street looks like.
Check out the Ariel view. Drill down to the Street view. Open up the Earth view. Check it all out! Like what you see? Great! This hotel might be what you’re searching for. The location not where you expected? That street view not what you want? Then keep searching.
Check It Out Tip: Use the awesome Street View feature to explore up and down the streets near the hotel. Love this feature!
2. Check for Discounts & Special Promotions
Who wants to pay full price, right? Though you may not always cash in on a hotel discount, it is well worth an online search before you book. Seek and you may just find a discount to lower that hotel bill. Think early booking discounts, extended stay discounts (which can be as little as four or five days), or pre-paid discounts.
Also check for offers and special promotions on the hotel website. Search for airline or car rental alliances that might offer a hotel discount because you booked with them. Check your hotel loyalty programs and credit cards for member or cardholder exclusive rates. Who knows where a discount might be hiding!
Check It Out Tip: If you think your hotel plans might change, you probably shouldn’t opt for a pre-paid discount.
3. Check Online Reviews And Recent Photos
Online reviews are a plethora of hotel advice. My go-to source for vetting out hotels is TripAdvisor. It is chock full of reviews from people like you and me, providing feedback to help fellow travelers make educated hotel decisions. Just find that hotel, and read what others are saying about it. Check out guest photos. Peruse Amenities, Q&A, and Room Tips. Read about the surrounding neighborhood. Is this where you want to be?
So much detail at your fingertips! Still not enough information, or not answering your specific questions? Ask away in TripAdvisor, and ye shall find your answers.
Don’t forget to check out the photos! As they say, pictures can say a thousand words, and recent hotel photos can tell an exciting story. Or they can let you in on unexpected changes from the hotel website’s photos. Looks can be deceiving, and the same can hold true with all those professionally pretty hotel photos. Both TripAdvisor and Oyster are loaded with photos taken by guests. Don’t be fooled by a pro photo fake-out!
Check It Out Tip #1: Read both the good, and the bad reviews for what’s relevant to your travel style. Sometimes a bad review may be about something that’s not important to you.
Check It Out Tip #2: When perusing through photos, check the date. Photos taken years ago might not be truly representative of the hotel property today! Read my experience below.
4. Check For BedBugs At A BedBug Registry
Yes, I went there! Yes, there really are online registries for bedbug infested hotels! Nobody wants to bring home these nasty little stowaways, so check the hotel out before you book. Bedbugs are a very real situation that you just don’t want to find yourself in. Here are several online resources to check before you arrive:
Check It Out Tip: Learn how to spot bed bugs in your hotel room. And if you find signs of beg bugs, pick up those bags and head straight out the door!
5. Check In With The Hotel Concierge
Need advice before you arrive for a special event or on-site activity? Call the hotel! The hotel concierge staff can be your best friends. They are a plethora of local information, from nearby activities, to securing dinner reservations, to filling you in on the best nightlife in town. A knowledgeable concierge can be instrumental in taking that hotel stay to the next level.
Talking with hotel staff prior to arrival, whether the front desk or concierge staff, provides a window into the type of service you might expect upon arrival. If you can’t get answers to basic hotel questions before you arrive, maybe the service isn’t all it’s supposed to be.
Check It Out Tip: Not keen on phone calls? Email the hotel. No response? Maybe reconsider. If the hotel doesn’t respond to questions before you arrive, how they will respond once there?
6. Check Parking Options
Will you have a car while at the hotel? Then you’ll need a place to park it. Check out the hotel’s parking options before you arrive to avoid unpleasant surprises. Know before you go where your car will sit, and if it’s going to cost you. The hotel website should provide this information. If not, call the hotel and ask!
Check It Out Tip: Key features to know before you go include: Is it a garage? Is it near the hotel? Is it safe and secure? Is there a fee?
7. Check For Hidden or Extra Fees
Know before you arrive if that amazing beach front resort comes with a hefty daily resort fee. Will that parking garage cost you dearly? Does tapping into the hotel Wi-Fi require a fee, and if so, is it per device? Are city or special taxes included in the quoted hotel room rate? Don’t be surprised with a larger-than-expected room bill when you check out.
Check It Out Tip: That water bottle so temptingly sitting on the counter may cost you! Before you crack it open, check if it is complimentary, or if you’ll be swimming in hefty water fees.
My Recent Hotel Experience
And the reason I am sharing this check-list with you today! On a recent vacation, I booked a particular resort because of it’s ocean-front location. The website images were amazing. The reviews were mostly very good. My communications with the hotel management, spot on. One thing I missed – to check the most recent resort images! If I had, I don’t think I would have chosen this place. Recent beach erosion had resulted in much of the beach being non- existent. Something I would have noticed if I had compared a more recent photo with a professional photo taken five years prior.
What’s Your Favorite Pre-Booking Tip?
How do you decide which hotel to book? Do you simply throw an imaginary dart to pick your next hotel? Or do you have a system of checks and balances to ensure you are getting the best fit features for your travel style? Do share your favorite tips for booking hotels!
Yes, a great hotel really can have you kicking up your feet in happiness! Happy travels!
Images from GoogleMaps, TripAdvisor, DamianMorys via Flickr (car), C.Biederman (boy).