How to choose a good hotel? This is one of the hardest things in planning a trip. There are hundreds of options. A bad choice can ruin your vacation. What are the things that matter most when you have to choose the right hotel for you? When to book? Which booking sites to use?
Find all the answers in the guide – how to choose a good hotel.
When to book a hotel
There is only one answer. The sooner, the better. Once you buy your airplane tickets, immediately book your hotel, too. Don’t wait for the last moment, especially for cities like Rome and Paris.
Booking early will give you better options for a lower price. Book with a free cancellation and you can always cancel and book again if you find something better later.
When I was searching for a hotel in Rome (5 months before my trip), the cheapest and the nicest hotels were already booked! And I wasn’t even travelling in the high season.
For my trip to Scotland, I left the choosing of a hotel in Glasgow for the last moment. It is a big city, but it is not so touristy like Paris for example. So I thought I wouldn’t have any problems. Wrong. Unfortunately, during my stay, there was a Take That concert, so almost everything was fully booked.
The hotel’s location is one of the most important things that can make or break your vacation. However choosing a good hotel without an itinerary or even knowing where the main attractions are located, is not so easy.
No matter if you choose to stay right in the city centre or nearby district, always choose a hotel close to a subway or bus station. In most of the cities, the tourist sites are not located within a walking distance from each other. In these cases, you will have to use the public transport.
Avoid the area around the train stations. It is rarely safe.
I always choose my accommodation before making an itinerary. In order to be able to do that I use Google maps. In the search field, I type the city plus “things to do” (for example “Vienna things to do”). The map will show you the most famous sites in the city. In this way, you will have at least a slightest idea in which area you should look for a hotel.
You can also check these guides below that show you the best area to stay in each city plus few recommendations for great hotels.
Where to stay in Vienna, Austria
Where to stay in Sofia, Bulgaria
Where to stay in Berlin, Germany
Where to stay in Milan, Italy
Where to stay in Glasgow, Scotland
Where to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland
Everyone has different needs, so this point is different for each person. For me, the important things are WiFi and a safe. Don’t forget to check if the WiFi is available in the rooms or just in the common areas like the lobby.
In some cases, I look for hotels with a 24-hour reception desk if my flight is early in the morning or late in the evening. There were several occasions that I had to check out before 6 in the morning.
You have to figure out what are the things that are essential for your vacation. If you don’t need WiFi or a spa or a breakfast, there is no need to pay a higher room price only because the hotel offers these services. Also, don’t forget to check if all you need is included in the price of the room.
I alway choose hotels with a free cancellation. In this way, you pay a higher price, but if you cancel your trip, you won’t lose everything you’ve paid.
Everything can happen. Your flight can be cancelled or moved to another date (especially if you fly with low-cost airlines) or something worse.
I had to cancel my trip to Istanbul after the Turkey military declared martial law in 2016. Luckily I had booked with a free cancellation and managed to get a refund.
Also, there is a chance to find a better hotel after you have already booked.
This is the easiest part. To find good hotels I use Booking.com. You can filter the hotels by budget, amenities, rating, cancellation policy, neighbourhoods and much more. If you want to search for hotels in a certain area you can zoom in the map. The site will show you all hotels that cover your requirements within the desired area.
Rating and reviews
Spare time reading the reviews if you want to choose the right hotel for you. I love using Booking.com because there are no fake reviews there. You can leave a review only if you have stayed at the property. Look for a hotel with a rating above 8 and with many reviews. You will get a more accurate overview of the hotel if there are many reviews.
Once you choose a good hotel it’s time to read the reviews. Read the bad reviews first, if you don’t want to lose hours. Sort them by score (lower to higher) and read the reviews within the last year. See if there are any complaints about the things that are essential to you.
Maybe the WiFi speed isn’t good or the breakfast is not varied or it is noisy. Don’t take into account the reviews that concern things you won’t need or don’t bother you.
When you fix on a few hotels, read the positive reviews, too. You can find out some additional information about places to eat nearby or other stuff.
There is only one step left before booking your hotel. Check out how the hotel and the rooms look in reality. You can make this in Tripadvisor.
Search in google “name of the hotel tripadvisor”. The first result should be what you are looking for. Click on the photos labelled “Traveler”. This will show you photos of people that have stayed in the hotel.
Don’t take into account the reviews of the hotel. In Tripadvisor, anyone can leave a review. You simply can’t trust them.
Book your hotel
The last step is to book your hotel. I use Booking.com as it offers the cheapest prices in most of the cases.