Picking a hotel doesn’t have to be hard when you’re going to travel.
Usually the most difficult thing to decide is how much money you’re willing to spend and how close you want to be to where the action is happening.
For Carrie and I, the most we’ve ever spent on 1 night’s hotel accommodation was $229, and that was for a conference where it was really important to be right there, to meet people and make connections.
The least we’ve ever spent for a hotel room for one night was $4, and that was to stay at a convent near a cathedral built in a valley in Colombia.
With that in mind, here are four simple tips for finding the hotel that is right for you.
I don’t know about your budget, but for us, if we spend $100/night for 30 nights, that means we’ve spent $3,000/month on accommodation. You could get a pretty nice house for a $3,000/month mortgage payment.
If you’re going to see a city, and depending on what kind of hotel experience you’re looking for, you might be better off staying somewhere less expensive and spending the money on experiences in the city where you are. But if you plan to spend a lot of time in the hotel room, and you’re looking for a stay-in kind of vacation, a higher priced hotel might be worth it.
Cost is also highly dependent on where you are… In Hoi An, Vietnam, the hotel room where we stayed for $40/night would easily cost $149/night in downtown Denver, or $249/night in Manhattan. So work to get an idea of the range of prices in the place where you are going before deciding how much to spend. An easy way to do this is to go to any hotel search web site, put in the city where you are going, and sort by price (first sort highest to lowest, then lowest to highest). This way you’ll get an idea of what’s available, and then you can decide on cost.
We’re not talking so much about air pollution here (though that can be a factor), but rather noise and light. The primary reason you are (most often) getting a hotel room is because you are needing somewhere to sleep. Carrie and I are both somewhat light sleepers (which we learned to get past during 2 years of sleeping in a different bed every fifth night). If sound keeps you awake, but price is most important to you, can you learn to sleep with earplugs in your ears? (Bear in mind that earplugs muffle but don’t eliminate the sound.) If lights coming in from outside bother you, can you learn to sleep with an eye pillow? If not, you might want to look for hotels outside the main centers of activity, or else look for places that guarantee the quietness of the rooms (which usually means more expense).
You can also read reviews online at sites like TripAdvisor… we once stayed at a hotel in Philadelphia where we could hear… well… more than we wanted to… coming from the room next door. This included flushing toilets, conversations, and people enjoying each other. Make sure to take the environmental factors like sound and light into account when picking your hotel.
Are you going to Hong Kong to visit the shipping yards, or to taste all of the amazing foods available in such a small place? If it’s important to you to have easy walking or public transportation access to all of the places you want to see in a city, you might want to choose a hotel that’s centrally located to all of those places. If you’d prefer to see the city from a distance, or have a view of something in particular, you’d be better off picking a hotel that gives you that option.
Knowing why you’re going to a city will give you a great deal of clarity in knowing which hotel to choose.
Your luxury/Roughing it/Amenities preference:
If you’re traveling with someone else, you may have to compromise here a bit. If you like luxury hotels where they offer full turn-down service and bring you breakfast in bed, while your travel companion would be happy sleeping in a stall on some straw next to livestock, you’re going to have to compromise.
For us, we usually want a room with a mini-fridge, as that allows us to buy some produce and cheese for saving money on meals. But cost is even more important for us than the mini-fridge, and many places we have been in the world, a mini-fridge isn’t an available amenity unless you opt for a name-brand hotel (like Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham, etc), which almost always carry a higher price due to the name.
When picking a hotel, it’s important to decide what’s most important to you first (your purpose for being somewhere new), then get a feel for what’s available in the area where you’re going by doing some simple searching online.
Once you’ve gotten a sense of what’s important for you as well as what’s available in the place where you’re going, you’ll be able to make a good decision that will help you enjoy a hotel that’s right for you.