With all the preparations that come with traveling out of town, whether it be for vacation or business, Knowing what to look for when making your hotel arrangements can make booking the room a whole lot easier.
I have put together some general questions that you should ask yourself when choosing which hotel best suits your needs. Although everybody has different needs and wants when it comes to the type of accommodations, this list should take care of most.
1) How far is the hotel from local attractions?
Depending on the reason you are visiting the city or town your in you may want to check out the local attractions and restaurants. When booking your room it is always good to ask if they are close to the main attractions or whatever your interest is. If it is out of walking distance you will have to either arrange for cabs, public transit or rent a car. Remember that with renting a car comes the possible add expense of parking.
2) Are smoking and Non smoking rooms available?
Whether you are a smoker or not you want to make sure you end up in a room that fits your needs. Some hotels are now choosing to not offer any smoking rooms and the ones that still do will sometimes designate one or two floors to smoking.
3) What are the check in and check out times?
Most hotels will have check out times between 10 am and 1 pm and check in times can vary. Many hotels will only promise to hold a booked room until a specific time of the night and may give it to another customer if you are not there by a certain time. It is always a good idea to find out if such a policy exists with the hotel you are choosing and if needed, explain your situation.
4) What is the parking situation?
Is there a charge? Hotels all have parking of some sort available. In the larger cities, where space is at a premium, the parking can be in underground garages and may only have a limited number of spaces available. It is always a good idea to find out what the rates are for parking. Is there one flat rate for your stay? Daily rates? If the prices seem a bit high you may want to look into any public parking close by that allows overnight parking, in some cases this can be cheaper however not as secure or as well guarded as a hotels parking usually.
5) Is there room service?
If your staying overnight you will most likely be eating out. Knowing if your hotel has a restaurant and / or has room service can save you loads of time.
6) Is there a pool or gym on site?
Although it is not the most important issue when looking for a place to stay but if you are strict with your workout routines or are traveling with children, a pool or workout room can make a big difference in the quality of your visit.
7) Does the hotel offer discounts or loyalty programs?
Many credit cards or auto club programs like C.A.A. / A.A.A. have made deals with hotel chains around the world allowing for their members to get a discount when booking their rooms. If you are a member of any of these clubs it would be a good idea to see if they are affiliated with any popular hotel chains in the city you are traveling to.
8) Is there a deposit required? If so how much?
Just about every hotel requires a credit card number when you are booking it. The difference however is that some will actually charge a deposit to the card while others will only verify that the card is valid. The deposit is usually charged back after you check out but for people who are traveling on a limited budget this could make a difference. Always find out how much your card will be charged for a deposit if at all when booking your room so you can plan your finances ahead of time.
9) Is there activities for children such as a playroom, playground, or arcade?
Like the pool mentioned earlier, activity centers like playgrounds, arcades or even water parks can make all the difference in the world when traveling with children.
10) Does the hotel offer High speed internet?
If you already travel with a laptop you know how important this one can be. Some hotels are not yet fully connected to high speed internet and therefore can not offer it at all. Some only have a wireless connection in the lobby or other designated area while others still charge for the service in the room if available. If you like to surf the web than this is an important one to check out.
11) Does the Hotel offer a breakfast meal? If so, is it Continental?
Is there a breakfast included in the price of your room or will you have to make arrangements to go to a restaurant for breakfast. Over the course of several days this can really add up money wise and is always good to check out. Some locations may not have a breakfast but offer coupons to local establishments for discounts on meals including breakfast.
12) Do the rooms have a fridge or microwave?
If your looking to save on meals and bring some groceries with you make sure that the room has a way to store that food. You will need to find out if there is an extra change for this as well.
13) Is there an iron and ironing board in the room?
Again, not necessarily the most important question but if you do travel for business it can always save time and money if you iron your own shirts and pants. If not, you may want to see if the hotel offers dry-cleaning services.
14) Is there access for the disabled?
Obviously only needed for those with special needs but some hotels still do not have the amenities for the disabled and some that do may still be inadequate for your needs. It is always a good idea to check if what the hotel has is suitable for what you need.
15) Are deluxe or family sized rooms available?
If you are traveling with the family or are looking for the absolute best when it comes to creature comforts you may want to ask for family or deluxe rooms. These usually will have multiple bedrooms, greater views and other amenities that don't normally come with the average hotel room. Not all hotels offer this kind of service and when making reservations you may want to confirm that the room your are getting is exactly the one you want or need.