By Christina VanGinkel
Reserving a hotel room is something that hundreds of thousand, even millions of people do each day, yet securing a hotel room that is exactly what you want is not always as easy as it seems. However, there are things you can do to make sure that the room you pay for is the room you want.
Be specific when reserving a room, as to what exactly it is that you want and expect. Do not be vague, and never allow the desk clerk to assign you whatever room they happen to feel like. There will be times when what you are requesting may not be available, such as when you suddenly find yourself stranded on a long layover, and the rooms that are available, are on a very limited basis. Nevertheless, if you are making your reservations well in advance, you should be able to be very specific about what you want your room to be, such as a room or suite, and whether the room is one that allows smoking, or a non-smoking room, but what size bed, even what floor of the hotel the room is located. You can even request things such as a room not facing a parking lot, or a poolside room, etc. When making very specific reservations such as these, be sure to get the specifics in writing, otherwise when you show up, and you are provided keys to a room that do not even come close to what you paid for, you will not have any valid recourses to fall back on. If you want items such as a small fridge, microwaves, or other extras not in every room, also make sure you are clear about these too. Do not make assumptions about things like high-speed Internet access. If you are in need of a service, ask upfront if they have it, and what the limitations may be.
Taking responsibility yourself, as to the hotel’s location, and overall condition, is the only way to assure you of things like an ocean view, that poolside room you really wanted, or a room that is not facing a busy parking lot. When a guest makes a reservation, and tells the clerk what it is they expect, as long as the conditions are available, and you agree to the rate that particular room is listed at, there is no reason you have to settle for something less. I cannot tell you how many times I have stood at a hotel counter and overheard another guest try to tell the desk clerk that the room they were provided, was not what they had reserved. If they do not have any proof of what they were expecting, they often do not have a lot of recourse, save for an extremely nice clerk. While that can and does happen, I would certainly not want to hold my breath waiting for it to happen to me.
Never make a reservation or check into a hotel room because of having stayed in another hotel from the same chain. If you have frequently stayed at a certain hotel chain, and always received exceptional service, this will of course bode well for future visits at similar named hotels, but still take the time to check out each hotel on an individual basis. Even some of the most prominent chains, with the best reputations, may have a hotel or two that are not ideally located, or are older than the majority of the chain’s holdings, and they may not offer the same exacting standards that you have come to expect from their hotels. Simply taking the time to investigate each hotel on an individual basis can save you a lot of grief in the end.
I made this particular mistake several years ago when traveling with my husband and two of our three children. We made reservations for three nights, in three different hotels, all owned by the same chain. We never asked any particulars, as we had stayed in similar hotels before. Unbeknownst to us until our arrival, the second night of our stay was in a hotel that was actually under a remodel. Hallways were lined with furniture from rooms being torn apart, hammering started quite early, and the staff was all quite frazzled, most likely from other guests, we included, making complaints. When we realized the morning of our departure that the construction workers had jimmied a door open the night before so they could make an early entry to our part of the hotel to start work, I nearly lost it! This was a serious safety issue and I was traveling with my children. Nothing was ever resolved with that particular hotel, but I have learned to ask numerous questions each time I am making a reservation, even for a single night.