Finding hotels is the worst part of planning a trip for me. I often lose interest after a quick 20 minute search, only to begrudgingly pick the task back up a short two weeks before I am set to jet off on vacation.
Let me be honest, choosing a hotel can be a scary process if you have no knowledge of the area you’re traveling to and are working with a limited budget, so that’s why I consulted travel blogger and expert, Alisa Abecassis to help a sister out with tips to take the guesswork in finding the best hotels. Check out what Abecassis had to say!
1. Chain hotels are usually a safe bet (and you could get breakfast for free!)
What’s the budget for your trip? If you can stay in top-notch hotels with connecting rooms—fantastic. Although I was lucky enough to be able afford that luxury, I purposely chose not to. I wanted my kids to experience “roughing it” a bit so that they would be more appreciative of the luxuries they had at home. Our go-to spots are moderate-level hotels such as Best Western, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express and the like. Large chains tend to have a uniform standard of style and cleanliness. An additional perk is that most of these moderate-priced hotels include breakfast. Again, nothing fancy—cold cereals, some breads and pastries, coffee, and fruit. Sometimes you might get lucky and they’ll have a hot buffet. Everyone loves the make-your-own waffle machine! It’s a great way to get something in everyone’s stomachs to start the day and you save on the expense of breakfast. Plus you can grab a muffin or piece of fruit for the road!
2. Do your homework: read ratings, reviews, and phone a friend.
With any level of hotel, research is key. I check out websites such as Hotel.com, Expedia, Orbitz, and TripAdvisor, typing in the city to find all the hotels where I’ll be stopping so I can compare prices and look at pictures. TripAdvisor is a fantastic resource because you can see reviews and pictures from hotel guests. You’d be surprised at the discrepancy between a hotel’s photos and the photos by people who actually stayed there. Some places that look fabulous on the hotel website could actually turn out to be pretty gross in real life!
Before you choose a hotel, look at the location. Do research on the various neighborhoods so that you know ahead of time that you’re sleeping in a safe place. Do you have friends who live in, or have visited, the area? Enlist them! When I was planning a trip to Detroit, I had no idea where to stay (given that almost every hotel had reviews of thefts and other nastiness), so I called an acquaintance who happened to live in a suburb of Detroit and asked his advice. He told me that Dearborn was a nice, safe place for my family. He was right—it was great! Sometimes friends can tell you what the Internet won’t. However, if I don’t have any contacts in the area, and there’s not much posted online, then my general rule of thumb is that if it’s near a popular activity and it’s a well-known chain, then it can’t be that bad.
3. Make sure your hotel choices are also bed bug free.
Another important step in researching hotels is making sure the place you’ve chosen has not been infested with bedbugs. Before making a reservation at any hotel, always check the Bed Bug Registry at http://www.bedbugregistry.com. It is an invaluable resource. You can look up any hotel in any city and see if there have been reports of bed bugs. Also, in the event that you encounter bed bugs anywhere you go, please be a good citizen and help out your fellow travelers by reporting it on the site.