I love accommodation that offers me the comfort and space to recharge away from the crowds. It is my sanctuary when I am away from home. Nothing annoys me more than dirty rooms, sagging beds and poor service.
Years of experience tell me that price and star ratings are no guarantee of quality when booking accommodation. Don’t rush in and book something just because it is discounted. Do a little research before making a commitment.
If there is a particular place that you long to be or a location that you consider essential to make your trip a success check the map before making a booking.
Ensure that your accommodation is close to the things you wish to see and do or you could find yourself spending more time (and money) commuting than enjoying the sights. Example: Use the map to confirm that the hotel adverting rooms with ocean views is close to the beach if you are planning a seaside getaway.
Types of accommodation
There are many choices when it comes to holiday accommodation. Your choice will depend on your budget, travel location and preferences. I have written my thoughts on the pros and cons of each below.
Hotels: The cost and quality of hotel rooms varies widely, read the reviews before you book. Generally hotels with more stars provide more facilities than those with less stars. I like to choose hotels that provide breakfast (ideally a sumptuous buffet!) in their room rate. Nothing disappoints me more than a stingy breakfast. I also like that the housekeeping is done and my bed made when I return to my room each evening.
Hotels are not so great if you are planning to spend a quiet day in your room. You will be surprised how many staff members enter and leave your room during the day. Hang out the “Do not disturb” if you are planning a sleep in.
The cost of having your laundry done in a hotel can be astronomical as they charge by the piece. Have a look around the neighborhood for a launderette or a dry cleaner who also does laundry if you need a more economical alternative.
Serviced Apartments: Can be more economical than staying in a hotel as they will have a kitchen and a laundry included in your room rate. Apartments are ideal if you want to save some dollars by cooking your own meals and don’t mind doing your own housekeeping in between services.
Serviced apartments are often not staffed and you will need to collect and return your keys to a locked box rather than the check-in counter which can leave you stuck if you lock yourself out or lose the keys.
Bed & Breakfast: If you don’t like the impersonal feel of serviced apartments or big hotels then a B&B could be a good alternative. These are usually small family run businesses designed to feel like home. Breakfast is often cooked to order and you are virtually guaranteed to start your day with a full stomach.
You may have to share a bathroom as not all rooms are required to have an en suite.
Backpacker Hostels: While I am not a fan of the backpacker hostel they are an alternative for travellers on a shoestring budget.
My main objections are the lack of privacy, personal space and cleanliness afforded by a shared dorm and shared bathroom facilities. I am also concerned about the safety and security of my possessions in this environment.
On-site cabins and caravans: Are often available in holiday parks and can be a great alternative for the budget conscious traveller. They often have a small kitchenette where you can prepare meals if you want to eat in.
On the downside, there is no guarantee of indoor toilets or showers. You may have to walk a distance to get to the nearest amenities block. All amenities are shared and often occupied at peak times and in need of a clean.
Know what others think
Read the reviews on travel websites such as TripAdvisor. The hotel may claim to have a 4 or 5 star rating, or show you pictures of clean modern rooms, but the reality can be far from the truth. Discounted rooms are often those that have not been updated or upgraded which is a a rude shock when you open the door!
Reading the reviews will alert you to potential issues such as poor house keeping, noise, and substandard facilities. The reviews will also tell you which establishments have a fantastic breakfast buffet, attentive staff, airport transfers and value for money accommodation.
Make a shortlist of potential accommodation options and check the room rates and availability for your preferred travel dates.
Make a booking online
Get the best rates by booking accommodation yourself.
Once you have decided how many nights you would like to stay, shop around online for the best room rate. The same hotel will often feature on several different websites.
Always check the hotel home page as well for any promotions and discounts that may apply if you are booking directly. The hotel home page will also alert you to any other services they may provide such as airport transfers to help you arrive safely and with a minimum of fuss.
Some hotels offer you the option to pay now or pay later. I prefer to pay my hotel bills in advance when making bookings on-line where possible. The pay now rate is often lower than the pay later rate. Paying in advance also allows me to spread the cost of my holiday over several pay days and practically have my trip paid for by the time I leave home.