Finding a hotel on the Internet can be a difficult task, but if you know what to look for, you can save a lot of time, frustration and money! Here is a list of questions that you should find out the answers to before booking a room on the Internet and a guide to finding the answers!
Is it clean? How is the appearance?
This is the most difficult question to answer when selecting a hotel online, but it is also the most important factor to most travelers. Look to see if there are additional pictures other than the outside view of the hotel. Many hotels offer pictures of the interior, including individual rooms. If room pictures are not available, use the hotel rating system (if available) as a guide (see below).
Is the price within your budget?
While price is surprisingly not the most important factor when selecting a hotel (see our hotel selection survey results), it is important. Make sure the price is within your budget. You’ll find it difficult to find the actual price without entering in your arrival and departure dates, so to save time, use the rating system for the hotel as a general guide (see below).
Are there non-smoking rooms?
If you prefer non-smoking rooms, make sure your hotel lists this as an amenity. This is an often-overlooked factor that is very important to many travelers. If the Internet site that you are browsing doesn’t list the amenities, call first or find a travel website site that does.
Has the hotel been rated?
Many hotels being offered on the Internet have already been professionally rated. Unless you have recently been to the hotel that you are considering, you should pay close attention to these ratings. Usually these ratings are based on a one to five star rating system - one being the lowest and five being the best. Unless you like to gamble, stay away from the non-rated or one-star rated accommodations.
Two-star rated hotels are usually the best bet for families or business travelers on a budget, and just about anybody looking to save a dime. These hotels are usually close to a city’s major attractions, including the airport, and public transportation. Amenities generally include cable television, free parking and possibly a free continental breakfast. Two star properties will usually be clean but simple. Most two-star properties are a great value as far as price goes. For the most part, rates will average below $80 per night.
You can use the rating system to roughly determine the price range of a hotel by using the following guide:
- One-star: Usually below $60 per night.
- Two-star: Usually below $80 per night.
- Three-star: Usually higher than $100 per night.
- Four-star: Usually higher than $150 per night.
The rating system of the hotel can also be used as a guide to determine the cleanliness and appearance of the hotel.
- One-star: Hit or Miss, Basic.
- Two-star: Clean but simple, Economy.
- Three-star: Spotless, Moderate.
- Four-star: Impeccable, First Class.
- Five-star: Flawless, Superior.
Do they offer the amenities that you want?
If you are looking for certain amenities, make sure the hotel you’re considering has them before booking. One amenity that is very popular, especially for families, is an indoor or outdoor swimming pool, which can make or break a family getaway, especially during foul weather. Other popular amenities include air conditioning, business centers, high-speed Internet access, refrigerators, kitchenettes and airport shuttles. Make sure the hotel that you are considering lists the amenities that you require.
Is there a convenient place to eat or a free continental breakfast?
Many travelers are on the go! Having to locate nearby restaurants can be both time-consuming and inconvenient. Many hotels offer on-site eating at restaurants, pubs and cafés. Continental breakfasts are an added incentive at many hotels, allowing a quick bite in the morning so you can get some extra sleep instead of searching for nearby restaurants. This is also a great way to save money if traveling with a family.
Have there been any negative reviews?
Reviews from other travelers can be very valuable, but only when they are consistent. Most travelers expect clean, comfortable accommodations and therefore only go back to write reviews when they have a bad experience. Look at the overall ratings, if there aren’t any ratings or if the average is good or better, then you are probably ok. If the reviews are consistently bad, stay away! When you return from your trip, help out your fellow travelers by going back and adding a review of your own.
Is the price guaranteed?
Don’t get stuck! Many online travel websites offer the lowest rates- and they’re guaranteed! Make sure that the travel website that you are using is one of them! The guarantee should be in plain view with details on how to submit a refund request.
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