|Le Notre Dame Hotel – Paris, France|
I’m knee deep in research for our Spain trip in March right now, looking into hotels and options for our trip and it dawned on me that I’ve not written much about booking hotels and how to find great ones for your travels. I think we need to change that! And after showing you some of my favorite hotels yesterday, I thought today would be a great day to delve into the process of picking a hotel for your travels.
I take pride in the fact that I’m pretty good at picking out some great hotels throughout our travels and when people ask me how I find such great properties, I often have to explain that there is a lot that goes into picking hotels when you travel. It’s a very time consuming process, but one that I thoroughly enjoy. I recently did a post on some of my favorite hotels that we’ve stayed at over the years and those and many others reside on my Hotels Page, a list of places I would suggest if you’re traveling to any of the cities listed. However, I realize that you may be traveling to places that I don’t have listed yet or your style might be different than mine, so here are some of my tips to picking a great hotel wherever you might be traveling and whatever you may be looking for in a hotel.
|Le Meridien – Nice, France|
The first and perhaps most important is figuring out what you like in a hotel. Do you want a modern hotel or a traditional one? Do you want a chain or do you want a boutique? Do you want a fantastic room or just a place to sleep? All of those questions and more should be asked before you start looking for a hotel for a trip. Personally I like a well designed boutique hotel, in a great location and something with character and an edge. As a designer, I’m pretty specific on what type of look I want in a hotel and that also changes per location as well, but overall, figure out what you like and what you don’t. That right there will narrow your search.
|Riad 72 – Marrakech, Morocco|
A tremendous amount of research goes into my hotel choices and I spend hours figuring out where we want to stay. I do it over a period of months (this is where starting early really helps) and spend time when I can looking into a shortlist of hotels I’ve picked out as options.
You might be wondering where to even start looking? I start at Tablet Hotels and Splendia, two hotel websites that specialize in boutique hotels. They won’t even show you the Mariotts or the Hiltons, they cut out all the chains and show you the unique properties in whatever city you’re traveling to. After looking through their sites, I then take my short list of options and I look into each of them further. Where are they located? Is that a good spot to be based? How will we get there from the airport or train station? What are the views like? What is included in the reservation, for example, will breakfast be included or not?
Once I answer those questions and I narrow down the hotels further, I usually end up with 2-3 of our top choices.
|Trident Gurgaon – Delhi, India|
Once I have narrowed down our options into a small handful of places, I head straight to Trip Advisor. For succinct and easy to read reviews, they really are the best. You can get a good idea of the hotel you’re looking at really quickly just by scanning headlines and reading further if you need to. Generally, I have a pretty good feel for each spot I’m looking at and which ones will be best for us.
I’ve had numerous hotels that I thought sounded perfect before I got to this part of the process and have chosen to find another hotel because of what I read on Trip Advisor. Also on this note however, remember to take certain reviews with a grain of salt. Someone complaining about tiny insignificant things like no robe in the closet or a small room, I overlook most of that. But the big things like mice in the hotel or loud atmospheres, those are the things I take notice of and decide accordingly.
|Oberoi Udaivilas – Udaipur, India|
Once you’ve whittled down your list of options, I like to look at other aspects of the hotel and what might work better for us verses the others. Do they have a pool? Is there a cool rooftop? What’s the lobby like? Is there a restaurant? You are going on a trip and especially if it’s your vacation, those are things that are going to matter when you’re there. So take a look and one hotel probably will outshine the others at this point in terms of what amenities they offer.
|Una Hotel Roma – Rome, Italy|
We’ve gotten some amazing deals on hotels over the years and on top of that, some amazing rooms. But the majority of that is because we’ve booked early and far enough in advance to reserve the rooms we want. Want that room with a view or balcony? Chances are if you wait, someone else will snag it. Book your rooms early and then email the hotel and ask if you can reserve particular rooms if needed. More often than not, they’ll do their best to help you out. But booking early will help you secure that perfect spot and it’s a major thing off your travel checklist too, so you can know it’s done and not have to worry about it!