Let’s face it, booking a hotel is not the easiest part of vacation planning. There are so many things to consider before booking a hotel: location, price, amenities, reviews, etc. It can be very difficult to compare all the different factors, to know you are getting the best hotel for your money!
Your hotel can certainly make or break your vacation experience. If it is too far away from downtown, it can be a hassle getting to and from the items on your itinerary. If it is too expensive, you might not be able to afford it!
It is easy to find the cheapest, decent looking hotel and book it right away, and call it a day. Try not to do this, even though it seems easy! Make sure to research the following factors, so you can get the best bang for your buck.
If you happen to be staying at a not so decent hotel, consider these clever hotel hacks to improve your stay! Inevitably, sometime in your travels you will come across a subpar hotel that needs some extra attention!
Before booking a hotel, make sure you consider these factors, before quickly hitting the purchase button!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
One of the most important things to consider before booking a hotel room is the hotel’s location. This seems like an obvious one, but it is often overlooked, especially you have never been to the area before.
It can be difficult to know which parts of town are the best to stay in, or which areas to avoid. We have had our fair share of staying in areas that were a bit too sketchy for our liking, and also areas that were entirely too far away from everything we had intended to do.
Often, hotels are cheaper the farther away from the main downtown or city you are traveling in. It can be tempting to book these hotels, in order to save money. However, you might not actually be saving money!
Think about it: if you are staying 30 minutes or an hour away from the main downtown area, you will need to have transportation. This might mean a rental car plus parking fees, subway fees, taxis, Ubers, etc. All this can quickly add up, making your “cheap” hotel not so cheap anymore!
However, if you are staying closer to downtown, you might be able to walk to your destination, or take a short bus ride. While the hotels here will most likely be more expensive, the costs will balance out due to the lack of needing much transportation!
Plus, think of the added stress you will put on yourself from staying in a far away hotel. Needing to plan transportation, spending an hour of your day just getting to where you need to be, etc. Spend the extra bit of money per night, and your travel experience will be much easier!
Read more about how to find the cheapest hotel possible.
Hotel parking fees
More things to consider before booking a hotel include researching the hotel parking fees. This is only necessary if you are bringing your own car or renting one, as the parking fees can quickly add up.
Hotel fees can be upwards of $25-$30 a day, or even more! If you are staying a week, this could mean an extra spending of hundreds of dollars. Make sure to research the hotel’s parking policy before booking, and use that information to compare hotel costs.
Maybe one hotel has free parking but is $300 a night, where another hotel is $280 a night but has $20 parking. Consider how long you are staying for, and outweigh the costs of each option.
If you can, check around the area for cheaper parking options. There might be a parking garage nearby that offers a cheaper deal on parking, or even free street parking you can take advantage of.
While this can be difficult to determine without actually being there, there are still ways! Check out Google maps and search the area around your hotel, or read reviews of the hotel and see if anyone talks about hotel parking.
If you don’t have a car- don’t worry about this one!
Another important factor to think about before booking a hotel is if the offer shuttle services. Using the hotel shuttle can help save you tons of money during your travels!
If your hotel is close enough to the airport, they may offer free shuttle services to and from the airport- which can save you money on transportation, and also ease some stress of how you will get to and from the airport.
Some hotels even offer shuttle services to and from different locations in the area. You might be able to get free rides to and from the hotel to downtown! Check the hotel’s website or give them a call to see what services they provide.
Using the shuttle services will give you peace of mind knowing you have transportation during your travels. You also won’t have to worry about confusing subway routes and bus lines, or running to miss your train!
If you use the shuttle services, remember to tip the drive, especially if you use the shuttle a lot! Most people forget to use the shuttle, so it might be just you and your family- like a personal taxi service! Travelin’ in style!
Hotel amenities may not be important to every traveler, but they are still worth looking into, especially if you are staying for awhile. If you are staying for a long period of time, consider reading our ultimate extended stay hotel checklist.
Otherwise, consider what amenities you would like to see and use during your stay. Will you want to use the pool or hot tub? Are you planning on working out at the gym during your vacation? Maybe you need a conference room or a printer while traveling. Take a look into these amenities before booking, especially if they are important to you.
If you plan on having a pool day during your travels, it might be worth spending a little extra per night to have a hotel with a pool. If not, then don’t worry about these factors!
Also, take into consideration the in-room amenities. Are you planning on cooking your own meals and need a kitchen? Maybe you want to have a mini fridge or a microwave. Make sure to research these in room amenities prior to booking, so you don’t walk into a room without everything you need!
Is breakfast included?
Almost every traveler can attest to this: free hotel breakfast is one the the highlights of your day! Hotel breakfasts are amazing, especially if they are included with your hotel costs!
Having a free breakfast is a great way to eat up for a long day of exploring and adventuring. Plus, you can pack some fruits in your day bag in case you get hungry during the day and need a quick snack.
Even if you are not a huge breakfast eater, you can always pack a meal to go! This can help save you a ton of money per day, since you won’t have to buy breakfast for the whole family each day.
Before booking your hotel, consider if breakfast (or even other happy hour specials!) is included in your hotel stay costs. Try to find a low cost hotel that also includes breakfast for the best bang for your buck!
Hotel reputation and reviews
This is one of the most important things to consider before booking a hotel. Checking the hotel’s reputation and reviews from real customers can give you a full picture on what the hotel is actually like.
Of course, the hotel’s website is going to paint the hotel in its best light. By reading reviews and looking at real customers pictures of the hotel can give you a better feel for what the hotel is like.
I typically look at customer’s pictures of the hotel on google maps images. This provides a well rounded view of what you will get!
Take these reviews with a grain of salt, however, because people typically tend to leave reviews if they had a really awful experience, or if they loved it. Rarely are there “in between” reviews.
If you see a terrible reviews and bad pictures, that doesn’t mean this is what will happen to you! Chances are, it was a one time thing, and all the issues are fixed. However, if you notice most of the pictures and reviews are bad, maybe try looking at a different hotel!
Make sure you never do these things in a hotel room!
When booking a hotel, make sure to take into consideration any extra fees that may be added per day. You can check to see if your hotel has extra fees at resortfeechecker.com
You won’t want any surprise charges once you get to the hotel, so make sure to research this before hand. Many all inclusive resorts have these fees, along with some Las Vegas, California, and Florida hotels.
While they typically aren’t too expensive, they can quickly add up especially if you aren’t aware of them. You can also look on the hotel’s website, or give them a call to confirm any extra fees that may be added.
Early check in/ late check out
Before booking your hotel, make sure to check if they provide early check in or late check out. This is important if your flight gets in early in the morning and you need a place to stay, or if your flight doesn’t leave until later and you want to stay at the hotel longer.
Most hotels will accommodate for these requests, but will sometimes charge extra. Research the hotel’s policy and and fees that may be added.
Make sure you ask about this service ahead of time, as hotels often cannot accommodate your requests if they are made last minute. Also, don’t just assume you can check in early or check out late. If you stay over your allotted time, you may get charged for an additional day.
Cancellation policies can be important in your hotel booking, just in case you cannot travel anymore, or you find a cheaper hotel you want to switch to.
It can be helpful to book a hotel with a free cancellation policy, if you find a good deal. You may want to continue looking for hotels, however, and if you find a better deal, you can cancel the other hotel without any worries!
This way, you can freely search hotels, while knowing you can switch and rearrange as needed. Some hotels only give you 24 hours to cancel, however, so make sure you keep note of different cancellation policies for each hotel.
More important things to consider before booking a hotel include seeing if they provide luggage storage. Sometimes, your flight may arrive early before your check in time, and you have no where to put your luggage.
Or, maybe you check out of your hotel, but your flight doesn’t leave until later in the afternoon. You might want to explore until you leave, but don’t want to lug your suitcases around.
Many hotels offer luggage storage, to hang onto your suitcases until you can check in, or until you leave for your flight. Typically these services are free, but make sure to research any fees that might be included for this service.
This service can be extremely important depending on your flight times, and can take a ton of stress off! If you don’t need this service, then ignore this tip!