Choosing the right hotel is always a trying task, and with the enormous number of promotions, deals and programs out there, it can be downright overwhelming. It doesn’t help that these days most hotels have Web sites full of tantalizing photos and slick promotional copy that make you believe you’ll be bathed in luxury as soon as you step foot into the lobby. How can you tell if a hotel will live up to its own hype — and, more importantly, if it’s the right hotel for you?
Since every traveler has different needs when searching for a hotel, you’ll need to ask yourself what’s most important to you. Whether you’re looking for a great deal, a great location or a great B&B, we’ve broken down the hotel selection process to make it easier for you to find the best hotel for your trip.
Before beginning your search, ask yourself what type of accommodations you want and what your budget will permit. Does location trump price, or are you limited to hotels under $150 a night? Do you need a hotel with a spa and fitness center, or would you rather stay at a small property with lots of local charm?
Once you’ve decided on your top priority, then you can make a more targeted search. Following are the most common determining factors in choosing a hotel, as well as tips for finding properties that suit each particular need.
Price: Nearly every major booking engine gives you the option to sort your results by price. Don’t limit yourself to the big three (Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz) — you should also pay a visit to other sites like Kayak.com, Booking.com and Hotels.com. And don’t forget to check our very own discount hotel deals!
Tip: Use the booking engines to see what’s available and test rates at the properties you’re interested in, and then go straight to the hotel’s Web site to book directly — most hotels guarantee you the lowest rate when you book on their site, and will match a lower price you find elsewhere.
If price is your only concern, you may want to try bidding on Priceline.com, where you won’t see the name of your hotel (only the star rating) until you’ve actually booked it. Another useful site to try is Tingo.com, which will automatically rebook you and refund your money if the rate at your hotel drops after you’ve booked.
For further advice on landing a cheap deal, check out Get the Best Hotel Rate.
Location: All the major booking sites allow you to view search results on a map so you can see which ones are right on the beach or in the neighborhoods you prefer. Most also have the extra capability of searching for and mapping a hotel in relation to a particular point of interest, such as Times Square or the San Diego Zoo. Good old-fashioned guidebooks are another useful source for finding hotels in a certain location, as hotels are often