There are two kinds of people when it comes to making reservations for an overnight stay; the “I’ll wait until I get there and see what’s available” group and the “I have to have reservations made weeks or months before I actually arrive” group. No matter what which group you belong to, you should have a checklist ready and thoroughly go over the information you’ve found about each hotel. After all, there are very few things worse than assuming a hotel with a beautiful name like “Breath of Heaven Inn” is actually a tiny, seedy dive that is more like “Whiff of Landfill.” (And yes, this has actually happened to me).
Here are some tips on how to make sure you have found the perfect hotel for your needs, whether you plan reservations far ahead or choose a hotel after your arrival (and keep in mind you can compile your own relevant tips, depending on where you plan to be visiting).
(1) Don’t just choose a name. If you rely on the Internet for most of your travel plans, as many more people are now doing, put in the name of a hotel in question and research all you possibly can about it. Preferably the site will have room photos, rates, how to make reservations, and other information you may want to store away in a binder. Some websites have virtual slideshows that take you around a room, lobby, or the hotel’s exterior.
(2) If you’re traveling with pets, it is imperative to know before arrival which hotels in the area of your destination will host your “furry children.” Unfortunately for pet-owners, some hotels will impose a ridiculous fee even if they *do* allow animals on the premises. It is always good to have a detachable vacuum or lint roller to get loose fur off hotel floors and furniture before the end of your stay; this way, if the staff has nothing to complain about with your pet, they may think twice before imposing a additional fee.
(3) Location *is* very important. If you’re staying at Disney World and one hotel is twenty miles away while another is five, and each has the same rates and amenities, you will naturally want to choose the hotel that is closer to the destination. Small hotels located off unfamiliar exits can be hard to find. If you’ve made reservations and then find the hotel to be less than you were expecting, it’s too late to cancel, but if you see it before you’ve done so, you’ll think twice before spending the night there.
(4) If you are able to choose the floor on which you wish to stay, consider your physical abilities and amount of luggage. Not many people would choose a fourth-floor room if they have an entire car full of luggage to drag up the stairs if there is no elevator. Unfortunately, it is often not possible to choose a rooms, so it’s always good to be prepared.
(5) If your room (which you assumed was at least in a nice and clean condition) is completely dirty, bug-infested, or unsafe, *don’t* be afraid to tell management; you have a right to the sort of room you were promised. Many hotels thrive on the good reviews they receive, so if you let staff know that the room is not up to speed, they will probably be eager to help so they will maintain good customer communications. Sometimes they will even offer a transfer to a better room; but don’t always be expecting things to happen this quickly or easily.
(6) It is important to understand lodging terms. For instance, if you want an oceanfront balcony and choose a hotel or motel known as “oceanside,” it may only be a few rooms that actually overlook the water. You will want the room to actually say “oceanfront,” and if you are allowed to choose the floor you will be occupying, take a look around the hotel perimeter and see which rooms will give you the view you desire.
(7) Safety issues are important. If you have a small child or a pet, it might not be a good idea to choose a hotel with an open balcony. Children can easily toddle out and put themselves in danger, and pets, being naturally curious, are in the same danger.
(8) Keep a notebook with all the information you have gleaned from various pamphlets, web pages, or other sources. Print out photos, online booking receipts, contacts to call at the hotels, and anything else you choose to keep until you make your decision. When you’ve chosen your lodging, all there is to do is sit back and enjoy the trip. After all, the stress of making reservations is minimal compared to the joys of a worry-free vacation.
By Lacie R. Schaeffer