Something I get asked a lot about travel is HOW DO I CHOOSE HOTELS?
A hotel can make or break your holiday. Choose the wrong one and you can end up miserable, unrested or worse, homeless. But when you choose the right one, it can be the hub from where you launch your adventures and recharge after a full day of exploring.
So aside from the obvious: air conditioning, cleanliness, wifi and no shared bathrooms (ew!), below are 5 things I consider when booking holiday accommodation.
1. CONFIRM THE HOTEL BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
There are plenty of search engines for checking out hotels. Some very very common ones are:
I use them all interchangeably EXCEPT for booking.com. Unfortunately, I have had a few bad experiences with booking.com. Because it’s only a booking engine, they don’t really confirm your booking and the hotel reserves the right to give away your room to other people who walk in – without notice.
This actually happened to me twice – but on the first time I was lucky, the hotel managed to find me another room so crisis was averted. Second time it happened, I just arrived from a delayed flight and it was 11pm at night.
Me and my travel buddies actually had to walk out at that hour, drag our luggages, and find another hotel! I can never forget that night!
Can u imagine doing that if you are travelling with children? Or elder members of your family?
As I also sometimes travel solo, I want to avoid this situation of having to be homeless so I MUST MUST MUST confirm the hotel before I arrive.
My personal favourite is actually Agoda -reliable and you pay for your room before you arrive so it’s confirmed.
Sometimes, I also use Airbnb. Some lovely apartments available and it’s a plus if they come equipped with a washing machine.
This however, I use with caution and only if I am confident with the country I am travelling to. Some apartments are near to main attractions but located in ghetto neighbourhoods which may not be suitable for lady travellers.
In this case research is very important. I also always keep comparing Airbnb with a hotel to see if the price is similar, but usually, I almost always prefer staying in a hotel over an Airbnb.
2. CHECK THE REVIEWS
I cannot stress the important of reviews, and plenty of it. I tend to avoid chain hotels to be honest and love to opt for boutique hotels, villas, restored homes. They have more character, value add, and often, the operator of the hotel is the one greeting you at the reception.
So for me, reviews are super important! The more reviews a location has the better, and the more 5 stars it gets the better.
Pay attention to things that matter to you but rarely gets mentioned under amenities:
If you are like me: I check for reviews on friendly hosts, helpful staff, bum sprays haha, if the hot water is hot enough and if the internet is fast. I used to require elevators, but now since I carry a backpack that doesn’t really matter.
If you are a parent: check for stroller friendly elevators, if they can assist you to store your breast milk.
Also the location – which brings me to the next point.
3. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
This is so important OMG!
Make sure you are in a location where if possible, you are within walking distance to stuff like 7-11, restaurants, malls, and if possible – main attractions! This will ensure the place is siok and you don’t need to travel much to eat and see the sights and sounds of that destination.
Aside from landmarks, depending on your travel style, you may want to choose a hotel that is near public transport such as LRT/MRT. Or if the hotel is easily accessible by car so you can easily Grab or Uber.
Otherwise, choose a hotel that offers value add services like bicycle for rent, or shuttle services to the nearest attraction/mall, or perhaps it just needed to be located nearby a scooter renter.
Just because you are staying in a cave hotel doesn’t mean you cannot have WIFI. Check the amenities they provide like laundry, hot water (a must for me!), parking (if you have your own vehicle),
Or if you are a parent with small children: maybe a baby cot?
If it’s a country where halal food is not readily available, perhaps a kitchenette is required?
Perhaps it’s an island getaway so you wanna be sure what sort of facilities they have once the sun sets and you just wanna chill?
Perhaps you have plans of monging around at the pool so that’s another thing to consider.
5. DON’T STAY IN ONE PLACE
Who says you have to stay in one place?
Found 2 hotels you like? Stay one day there, and one day another place. Sometimes this method is quite a rewarding way to experience a country.
Want to stay in a fancy hotel/villa but can’t afford it for the whole duration of your holiday? Then book your final night in a fancy hotel, and stay in a more affordable hotel for the rest of your trip.
Or maybe you want to try a homestay or a campsite experience but don’t think you can handle “culture” or nature for more than 1 night? Who says u have to? Hahaha.
Yes it is slightly inconvenient to move hotels but it can be quite fun as well!
For example, during my trip to India, we took the famous Konkani Express (train) and saved 1 night of hotel by taking the night train.
Furthermore as it was super comfortable, we arrived at our destination fresh as a daisy! ❤
That’s the end guys, hope u guys found this guide useful. All in all, don’t rush to book, they require just a little bit of research and reading, but don’t leave it to the absolute last minute or you will feel anxious about choosing the perfect one.
Remember, it’s all about the journey not the destination! 🙂