20+ Important Things To Check Before Booking A Hotel Or Rental For Vacation
So, you found an insane flight deal and now it’s time to book your hotel room…
There are millions of hotels, villas, apartment rentals, and resorts on the internet so it’s hard to know where to start.
How do you know which websites to trust?
How do you choose between a hotel or airbnb?
How do you compare prices and amenities?
It’s overwhelming, to say the least.
Your hotel will be the launchpad to explore your travel destination. It will be your temporary home in a foreign country. Choosing the right place to stay can mean the difference between an incredible vacation or a disaster.
With that being said, here are the most important things to check before ever booking a hotel or Airbnb:
Do a price comparison before booking your hotel. Different websites have different prices, packages, policies, and deals! Always check the direct hotel website and compare prices on booking sites.
Many hotels offer discounts if you have a Military, AAA, AARP, Student, or Senior ID card.
Compare hotel, resort, hostel and B&B prices on sites like:
Compare rental home prices on:
Use referral codes for additional savings.
When you book a hotel or rental property in advance, it’s important to check the cancellation policy. A good cancellation policy could save money, time, and frustration if your travel plans change.
Some hotels have a 24-hour cancellation policy and others have a 72-hour policy. Some charge for cancellation and some offer free cancellation up to a certain point.
Check the fine print to avoid paying outrageous fees.
It’s extremely important to thoroughly check reviews before booking a place to stay. Read through details and profiles to ensure that reviews are authentic. I’d recommend reading 5-10 reviews before booking. This will help you find out more information about customer service, cleanliness, overall atmosphere, common complaints, and more.
Ignore reviews that are extremely skewed and avoid booking hotels/rentals without reviews.
Free food is always a plus, but especially while traveling. Restaurant costs can add up quickly so it definitely helps to have free breakfast at your accommodation. This could save you a lot of money in expensive travel destinations like Iceland or New York City.
Don’t forget to factor in airport transfer costs upon arrival. You could spend $50+ on transportation between the airport and your hotel. If possible, book a hotel that offers a free airport shuttle.
Don’t be so quick to book the cheapest hotel that you find before checking the location. Be sure to use Google Maps, reviews, and forums to determine if the hotel is in a central location. Uber, taxi, and train costs can add up.
You can even use Google street view to gauge the safety and appearance of the area.
You’ll save time and money by selecting a hotel in a centralised location.
Most hotels require a credit card for safety deposits and incidentals at check-in. They will place a hold on your card until you check out, so it’s important to be prepared. Make sure the hotel is booked in your name and bring your ID for verification. Some hotels will only accept a credit card – not a debit card, so this is good to know this ahead of time.
Booking.com will allow you to pay at the time of booking OR at check-in. This could be useful if you want to book online ahead of time and save up before paying the full amount.
It may seem like A/C is guaranteed, but this isn’t always the case – especially when traveling abroad. If you can’t live without A/C, it’s important to ensure that it’s available in your hotel/accommodation.
One of of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever stayed in, Azulik Tulum, didn’t have A/C when I visited. There is no electricity throughout the property and that’s important to know before booking.
If you’re from the US then it may seem like wi-fi is a given, but this isn’t always the case. If you need to book a hotel for business, then this may be a huge deciding factor. Some hotels only have wifi available in the common area and some just have a crappy wi-fi connection – so this is also worth looking into.
Some destinations were made for poolside chillin’. If this is how you want to spend your vacation, then book a hotel with an on-site pool. Certain hotels will host pool parties and events, which can be really fun if you’re traveling to a warm weather destination.
Bonus points if you can find a hotel with a rooftop pool for some incredible views!
Is the front desk open 24 hours? This is good to know if you plan to arrive early in the morning or late at night. If you plan to arrive earlier or later than the scheduled check in/out time, you should inquire about early check in or late check out. Some hotels will allow you to check-in if the room is ready and some will allow you to check out late for free if they have availability!
If you book an Airbnb, be sure to discuss your arrival time with your host beforehand. Will you meet up the host to check in? Will they provide a key? Will you need to use a lock-box or enter a key-code?
Consider what you’ll do with your luggage if you check in/out of the hotel outside designated times. Many hotels and hostels offer free luggage storage, but you should double-check.
If luggage storage is unavailable, then do proper research to see where you can store your luggage before/after checking in.
Review both hotel AND customer photos before booking a hotel. You should review a variety of photos, but it’s really important to review photos of the bedroom specifically. You can even use street view photos on Google maps to see if the area looks safe!
Check for security features like on-site guards, gates, and surveillance cameras. You can also research the neighbourhood to ensure that it’s a safe area prior to arrival.
Most hotels require you to be 18+ to check into a hotel and some hostels have age limits. Check age limits and requirements before booking!
Many hotels require guests to pay for parking and some Airbnb homes don’t offer parking. Compare parking costs before booking a hotel because this could make a huge difference in price.
Some cities collect additional taxes that may not be included in the initial booking rate and some websites charge additional booking fees, so be aware of this before booking.
Are you traveling with a pet? Will you be traveling solo? Do you plan to work out in a gym? Does the hotel offer free bikes, tours, and other activities? Is there an on-site restaurant(what are the prices)? If not, where is the nearest restaurant? Are there happy-hour deals?
Look out for these additional amenities and compare before booking your hotel.
Hey, I'm Ciara. I’m a global citizen and lover of travel. Want to know more?
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