Choosing a hotel is an important part of your vacation. Here are my top tips to consider when choosing a hotel…
1. Choose a central location
If you are staying in a ‘room only’ hotel, a central location is worth considering. I suggest this for 2 reasons…
- Firstly, a central location allows you to return to your hotel at some point in the day to rest, freshen up or get changed if necessary, before heading back out again. If your hotel is too far away from the area you want to look around, you are unlikely to do this. Being out all day exploring, without a rest, can be very tiring.
- Secondly, when returning to your hotel at the end of the evening, a central location is likely to be busier, with more people around. This feels safer when travelling alone rather than staying in a remote area.
2. Ask if rooms are available in a quieter area of the hotel
When you book your accommodation or on checking in, enquire as to where the quieter rooms are. If you are staying in a busy location, this is definitely worth considering. Some rooms might overlook a main road or be beside a railway line for example and others may not. This has been the case with a couple of the Travelodge hotels I have stayed at in the UK. Also try to avoid being near the hotel bar or a lift if possible, as these can be quite noisy.
3. Research the neighbourhood as well as the hotel itself
This is an important tip and I recently failed to do this. I had checked photos of the hotel and rooms but did not consider too much about the area it was located in. I felt uneasy on arrival as there were a few characters in the surrounding area to the hotel, that made me feel a little uncomfortable. Had I researched the neighbourhood, I would have realised it was close to a few places that I would not have chosen to be close to while travelling alone. Read reviews about the neighbourhood as well as the hotel itself.
4. Do you need facilities in your hotel?
If you are not planning on spending much time in your hotel, make sure you are not paying a premium for staying somewhere with facilities you do not intend on using. Choosing a hotel with a lower star rating will generally have less facilities but, the rooms may still be very comfortable and in a good location.
5. All Inclusive hotels and entertainment
Most all inclusive hotels offer some evening entertainment as part of the package, but not necessarily every evening. When I travel alone to an all inclusive resort, I much prefer to have entertainment every evening if the resort is not close to a local town. If this is important to you too, check how regular the evening entertainment is and its’ location, before booking.
Dining out can be one of the biggest costs when travelling and some destinations can be surprisingly expensive. Bear in mind that all inclusive hotels or, hotels that offer half/full board accommodation can help you to budget more effectively.
7. Do you prefer company?
All inclusive hotels allow familiarity with other guests, which can lead to conversations and helping to reduce feelings of loneliness while you are away. Room only hotels sometimes have a bar or restaurant onsite which can also be beneficial if you like someone to talk to. The bar and waiting staff vey often enjoy conversing with those who are on their own.
8. Repeat Booking
If you have stayed in a hotel before and liked it, find out whether they have a loyalty program. Some offer loyalty programs for repeat visitors and others a discount or free upgrade if you are a repeat guest.
9. Saving money
It can often be cheaper booking hotel accommodation early. If the hotel also offers a free cancellation policy too, you have nothing to lose by booking early. Once you have found a hotel you are interested in, cross check prices. You may find that you can get the same accommodation for cheaper by booking through another site.
10. Is there a 24 hour reception and/or in-room phone?
Travelling alone, I feel safer knowing that I have a phone in my room and that reception is manned 24/7. I am more relaxed knowing that I can contact reception at any point if there is a query or an emergency. If I have been out for the evening, I also prefer somebody to be on reception just in case my key doesn’t work for some reason, or there is a different problem.
11. Cancellation policy
Cancellation policies vary. For example, when I stay in Travelodge hotels in London, I am able to cancel up until midday on the day of arrival and I will receive a 100% refund. Other hotels require payment in full and will not offer a refund or even consider changing the booking to a different day. This happened to me recently. Others may require a non-refundable deposit. When choosing a hotel, make sure you check the policy at the time of booking.
12. Do you need to park a car?
If you are driving, check if the hotel has a car park or whether there is parking nearby. Parking can be costly and its may be worth considering an alternative mode of transport. Some hotel car parks are owned by an independent company and charges are reduced for hotel guests. If you are relying on parking nearby, side streets often allow you to park for only a few hours, so check parking restrictions and costs in advance.
13. Wheelchair access
Contact the hotel to see what the wheelchair access is like. Also whether it has hand rails fitted in the bathrooms. Not all hotels, rooms or lifts are suitable for wheelchairs.
Suggested Further Reading:
Solo Travel Tips – Tips with solo dining, safety, planning and concerns