Being a budget traveler, I always look for cheaper options when it comes to hotels but I keep other things in mind as well. Over the years, I have made some mistakes when booking hotel rooms and have learnt it the hard way. When I say cheaper options, let me tell you that I mean 2 or 3 star hotels as compared to a 4 star or a 5 star which offer you quite a luxurious experience.
The main reason for me writing this post is to share my personal experiences and thoughts on the topic. If I can help a few of you out there, then why not.
1. Distance of the hotel from landmarks
This is the biggest mistake one can make when booking a hotel room. It is well known that hotels around the city center are usually more expensive than their counterparts in other areas. When booking a cheaper hotel room, do check the distance from important landmarks and places that you wish to visit.
It isn’t fun if you have to travel for say 1-2 hours everyday to get to one place of interest. Once or twice would still be okay but doing this on a daily basis can be hectic and you lose time you could have spent discover other places. In addition to this, not every country or city has a good transport system that is metro, rail, buses etc. Therefore you end up travelling by a taxi and pay a lot for it. If you add up the transportation costs, you would realize that the savings you had from the hotel room booking have been used up. Research about all these factors before booking a hotel room.
2. Area where the hotel is located
Another common mistake is not researching about the locality and the area where the Hotel is located. This point is always on the top of my list since things can get difficult at times and may affect your travelling plans. One should be aware of the area they are going to stay in. You wouldn’t want to be in an area where gang fights, shootings, theft etc. are common.
During one of my early travels, I had booked a really cheap hotel and was happy about it. It was only later that I realized that the hotel did not have any staff after 11 p.m. The owner would lock the door and leave and anyone could enter through another door which was never locked. To add to my horror, there was a Eros centre in the next building (something like what a red light district would have). Just thinking about what kind of people could show up at the door step gave me chills. Since then, I have never ever book my hotel room without researching about the area where the hotel is located.
3. Spooky happenings in the hotel premises
Yes, this may sound a bit ridiculous, but for me it is as important as other points on the list. Some people think of spooky stuff as fun and adventure. For me it is just something I would like to stay away from. On one of my recent visits to Las Vegas, we just cancelled our stay at one hotel due to the fact that some rooms of the hotel were haunted. The hotel rooms were much cheaper than other hotels but we learnt the reason and immediately booked another option.
If you are like me and want to stay away from such things (even though it might just be a rumor), you can look for other options.
4. Size of the room
One of the key things to consider is the size of the room. Most booking websites mention the size of the room in sq. meters. During my travel to Frankfurt, I had booked a cheap hotel room only to realize it was really small. We barely had space to keep our stuff and there was no connected bathroom (yes, I am fussy about shared bathrooms).
However, in certain cities, even though the hotel room prices are not too low, the size of the rooms is still small (for example San Francisco). The price might be less in comparison to other hotel rooms in the same city but still high as compared to other cities. The reason for this is the high standard of living in the city. So when you book the cheaper options do check out the room size.
While in San Francisco, I booked a room which was all crammed up and was facing the street. I could hear people at night and woke up in the middle of the night due to some people talking loudly.
So next time you hit that button to book the room, make sure you have checked the size of the room.
5. Food options and basic supplies in the hotel and around the hotel
Midnight hungers? Water requirements? Basic stuff like food, water, soap etc. is something everyone needs. In the excitement of saving some money, we forget to check if the hotel offers any of these.
I have stayed at hotels where there were no food options whatsoever. In some cases carrying some snacks would be a good idea but what if you just want to have a good meal? Roaming the streets at night looking for restaurants might not be the best idea. Just check if there are basic supplies in the hotel – mainly food and water.
6. Reading the guest reviews
Reviews more often than not come in handy. A hotel may just be renting out rooms at a cheaper rate due to various reasons like cleanliness issues, maintenance issues and worst case scenario a bed bugs issue. Read the comments and reviews and see what common problems did the guests have had in the recent past. Reviews from 2-3 years back won’t help so check recent reviews. In addition to this check for reviews relevant for you. What I mean is that if you are travelling solo, a review from an old couple might not be of use to you.
I have been learning as I travel more and more. If there is anything that comes up in the near future, I will add it to the list here. For the time being, these are the top 6 things that come to my mind.
All these things, can be taken care of at the planning stage of the trip itself and you can avoid unnecessary stress when you travel. Travel can be tiring but it is always fun. Let us try and keep it that way.