In this modern era, travelers are a lot more flight-savvy than before. Thanks to the budget airlines we have today, many of us can finally afford comfortable and convenient journeys at affordable prices. But choosing the right hotel for our trips is not always as easy. There are many things to consider, and our decisions tend to be based on factors like travel budget, style, needs, location and more.
And just when we thought we have booked the perfect hotel that suits our criteria, we realized that it was not even close to our expectations — and we wished we had done better research!
I understand how that feels too, which is why I’ve created a list of top 10 things to consider when booking a hotel. Hopefully, it will help travelers like you when you’re picking the best hotel the next time you travel.
1. The exact location of the hotel
In the past, I had stayed in a badly located hotel where it was almost impossible to walk (peacefully) to anywhere. I had also stayed in a hotel which was far from the city center. I ended up spending so much time just on daily commute. These experiences taught me to always check the exact location of the hotel of my choice.
Although most hotel booking sites have very brief descriptions about the location of their hotels, many of them provide an online map for the convenience of all customers.
When I booked my hotels in Jakarta through Traveloka recently, I checked their exact location first before placing any booking. That way I can spend less money on transportation and less time on the road.
2. The Internet connection
When I was living my digital nomad lifestyle, Internet was like tea. When I couldn’t have it, I felt so restless! It was the one thing I couldn’t go a day without. Whenever it got disconnected, I became frustrated. Internet was extremely important for me at the time.
Most hotels provide free WiFi, but some will charge you a small amount of money. There are also a few that allow access for a limited number of devices. One of the hotels I checked into in Bangkok only allowed me to use 1 WiFi code per device.
If there was more than one person in the hotel room, this can be a problem. But at that time I needed the code for two of my devices: phone and laptop.
If Internet is very important to you, be sure to ask the hotel about this before placing your reservation.
3. Complimentary hotel breakfast
I’ll always consider to book hotels that offer free breakfast. I’d pay for convenience. This can also help me save on breakfast elsewhere.
Some hotels allow you to exclude your breakfast for a cheaper room rate. But if the room with free breakfast is slightly cheaper than the one without, why not pick the one that feeds your empty stomach in the morning for a dollar more? After all, you might spend a lot more when you have your breakfast in a café outside of your hotel.
4. Hotel reviews on trusted review sites
Although I don’t always trust everything I read on the Internet, I still find myself browsing through sites like travel blogs for hotel reviews — just to read what others have to say about the hotel they had stayed in.
The reviews are always helpful albeit not always accurate. There will always be a few discontented travelers who leave angry reviews just because they’re being difficult and fussy. They can make a hotel (whose quality isn’t that bad) look like the worst place on earth. I mean…how can you expect a 2-star hotel to serve like a 4-star hotel?
But it’s sites like these where travelers like me can find useful resources like information on bike rentals, tours and so on. I can even start a chat thread and ask others about a particular hotel I wish to know more about. Getting answers to your questions is a lot easier now compared to before.
5. Hotel toiletries and facilities
Trust me, it can be a problem when you don’t realize a hotel doesn’t provide toothpaste. There was also another incident where I had to do my work in bed as the hotel room didn’t have a table! These shortcomings were not mentioned on the booking sites.
Which is why it’s always good to contact the hotel in advance just to know what to expect. Don’t be shy to ask about breakfast, toiletries, facilities and services. Do this and you’ll get fewer surprises.
At Traveloka, you can filter hotels by their star ratings, prices, popularity and facilities, making it easier for users to compare hotels.
6. Hotel Type
This is very important for most people. As for me, it’s not usually a concern because I always travel alone. But when I travel with friends and family, it’s definitely something to consider.
If you’re traveling with kids, always check the hotels’ family-friendly policies. There are also many special deals for families to enjoy these days. If you see any, don’t let them slip away!
Families traveling together usually avoid staying in budget hotels. That’s because they always want the best for their family holidays. Who doesn’t?
Fortunately, Traveloka has great deals for families. If you’re subscribed to their newsletter, you can enjoy amazing discounts using their hotel coupons.
7. The size of the hotel room
I’ve noticed many guests complaining about room sizes on review sites. Well, size isn’t the most important to me when choosing a hotel, but it does make a difference to your travel experience. Whether it’s a budget or a 4-star hotel, the size of a hotel room needs to be considered.
A hotel is supposed to be comfortable too. If it’s not even comfortable, it shouldn’t be considered as a hotel! Always prioritize what’s important to you, and don’t compromise on them.
8. Room Type
Different people have different preferences. When I checked into a hotel in Jakarta, the receptionist asked me if I would like to have a smoking room. I said I didn’t want it because I’m not a smoker. In another hotel, I was told to not smoke in the room as all the rooms available were non-smoking ones.
I don’t need a smoker-friendly room. But I always try to get a non-smoking room as I worry I might have to tolerate the stench of someone else’s smoke.
9. Special Needs
Some travelers have special hotel needs. For example, if you’re traveling with a pet, you will need to get a pet-friendly hotel. Or if you’re someone with a physical disability, you will need a hotel that provides a lift or an elevated toilet seat. Safety is always key when traveling, so look out for facilities you require when checking out a hotel.
The good thing is, you can find many hotels that offer such facilities, even for company events and conferences.
10. Special discounts or loyalty rewards
I love discounts. And I’m sure you do too! When booking a hotel, I’ll always look out for the most savings. Sometimes I stay in a hotel just to enjoy the discounts it offers.
Loyalty cards are also great to have when traveling. Once, in order to get a free night for my next trip (in any hotel), I was required to stay in one of the hotels offered by the booking site (of which I got my loyalty card from). I never got the free night though. That’s because the site didn’t have many hotel choices that actually suit my budget. I’m not saying that it wasn’t worth trying.
But I love using hotel coupons. Limitations when using them still exist though. But my experience with Traveloka coupons so far have been good and beneficial. I was able to enjoy wonderful hotel discounts all the time.
I recently stayed at One World Hotel and saved RM70 for my stay. That’s a good amount of saving! I also traveled to Jakarta recently and managed to save RM50 from one of my stays.
Do you agree with these 10 things? At the end of the day, it’s all about understanding what you want from your holiday. Balancing your needs and expectations first will help you determine the best hotel stay for you. =)