Book your Hotel

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Booking your Hotel or Accommodations!

It has been a long standing debate amongst my former corporate colleagues on whether we would rather upgrade our flights or hotel and my choice is always HOTEL. Hotels for me are more than just a place to drop my things and lay my head at night. They can be a highlight in themselves in terms of luxury, customized experiences and historical significance. I utilize a variety of search engines including,, Agoda (in Asia),  AirBnB and smaller in-country platforms to find the perfect accommodation for my trip. The amount of options available online is both amazing and overwhelming. These are a few of my tips to narrow down and find the perfect place for my stay.

Know your Trip

There are two things that are deal-breakers on choosing and staying in accommodations: SAFE and CLEAN.

From there, the nuances vary. 
I have a much more detailed list if I plan on spending time outside of sleeping and showering at a location and look for ambiance, location, amount of space in the room, restaurants, and special amenities like yoga classes, wine tastings, bike rentals or other perks to add to my vacation especially in early AM hours before activities are open.

I usually have three travel modes on trips:
(1) Leisurely city visits where the accommodation is an attraction in itself on my itinerary. This might be a hotel or unique vacation rental.
(2) Longer stays where I want to act more like a local. This is usually a vacation rental with more room, laundry and a kitchen.
(3) I have so much booked and/or a road trip that it’s simply a place to sleep and shower and get back out on my trip. This is usually a hotel with 24 hr service.

Thinking through your needs and wants for your accommodation will enhance your vacation.

Hotel Star Ratings

Star ratings are another way to narrow your results. For luxury stays, I select 4+ and 5+ stars.

However, I have learned that it is difficult for smaller hotels to qualify for 4 and 5 star ratings. In the UK, most hotels need to have 24 hour room service to qualify for 4+ stars. Since I rarely have the munchies at 3am, I will also look at 3+ star accommodations in major cities and also in smaller cities where they may not be 4+ and 5+ hotels.

Hotels vs Vacation rental

Hotels and vacation rentals have different pros and cons. Luxury hotels for me are worth the expense also for the amenities IF I am spending time at the location.

If I am staying in a location for 2 nights or less, I am more inclined to get a hotel. These trips are usually on a faster pace and I value the easy and quick check-in, luxury, and assurances that hotels bring.

If I am staying longer term, I often consider a vacation rental or AirBnB for the amenities of more room, a kitchen and laundry facilities, and the opportunity to live more like a local.

Location, Location, Location

Location is often my first priority.

While staying outside of tourist zones will cut down your cost on the hotel rate, often times factoring in transportation costs and the cost of time in your previous vacation time is not worth the trade-off. I often stay near my first activity of the day to ensure that I can be a first arrival to enjoy busy tourist spots before the crowds arrive.

A great hotel location in a safe neighborhood or by the beach also makes it easy to roll out of bed and start your day without the commute. Amazing sunrises with water views, walks on the beach or strolls through your favorite city ahead of the bustle of the day are great perks and often worth the cost for me to enjoy my vacation.

Use that map!

Traveler Reviews

There is so much valuable review information data available to help you with your searches to find the gems and more importantly avoid a dud.

I almost always set my review score at 4+ to find accommodations. Most of the booking services have enough reviews per listing that one bad score is not going to skew the results. This help me greatly narrow down results to properties that fit most people’s criteria of clean and safe.

There are always outliers. Some people complain about everything. I look for travelers similar to me (either solo female, girls getaway, couple and possible family if traveling with my parents). Then read the reviews looking for specific perks and issues that may make that property more attractive or a dealbreaker. Safety, cleanliness, street noise, loud parties and thin walls are items I specifically look for. I am an early rise and like my sleep!

Get the right amenities

The amenities checklist can easily be a dealbreaker if you have specific needs. If you are arriving late, be sure to look for front desk availability and extra fees for checking in at late hours. Wifi is now almost always available, but still good to check if available and if there is an extra cost. If you have an early start on a road-trip, breakfast availability and hours may be a factor. If staying on property, a spa, swimming pool, gym, and parking can make or break an easy stay.

Factor in hidden extras as they can add up quickly on a what you thought was a great hotel rate. These are items to look out for and factor into your overall accommodation rate.

  • Valet costs or Parking costs
  • Resort fee costs
  • Breakfast Included
  • Room Tax
  • Wifi costs
  • Non-hotel fee, but factor in transportation costs if staying far from your daily activities
  • Refundable vs non-refundable rates and room type – Refundable rates can usually be refunded up to the day before arrival

Points Programs

Loyalty pays. If you travel often, consider staying within a hotel group or brand to get more perks.

For example, Hilton offers free wifi to hhonors members. Both and also offer loyalty programs that can earn you 10% discount and other perks including room upgrades, early/late checkin, free wifi and free nights.

Book Early

Lastly, book early. Early bird gets the worm or in this case, the great accommodation with ambiance and amenities perfect for your style. This is even more important in high season or events when all the “good” accommodations will sell out months in advance.

Most hotels reservations are refunded up the the day before the arrival unless you are booking a non-refundable rate (which is usually also a great perk). AirBnB or vacation rentals are a bit trickier with cancellation fees, but remember, there is usually only ONE of that unique property.

Planning pays in both money saved and getting exactly what you want!

Disclaimer: Some of the links on this website are affiliate links. I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, which contributes to maintaining this website as a travel resource. Please know that all companies are ones that I do use and have had great experiences with in my travels, or I would not include them on Blue Sky Traveler.