We’ve all probably been there at some point or another…
You are planning a vacation. You have everything budgeted, right down to the hotel room. So, you begin your search for a room, online. You think you know what you’re looking for, when you come across this room right in the heart of an expensive area for just $39 a night. Other hotels are booking for well over $200, so you jump on the $39 a night hotel room and consider it a great deal – until you get there.
When you arrive, the hotel looks nothing like the photos showed. Instead, it is gross, dirty, and very old. After looking at the hotel, you decide you would rather sleep in your car than set foot in your hotel room.
You could always look at these tips for getting out of a bad hotel stay, but you know that many times these hotel rooms are non-refundable. You know that more than likely you’re probably stuck!
So, what do you do?
If you’ve ever found yourself in the middle of this situation, you know how bad it is. Do you lose your money and look for another hotel room, or try to suck-it-up? While you did nothing wrong, your stuck paying the hefty price of figuring out what to do, and often, trying not to let it ruin your vacation. By asking yourself these 5-simple questions before booking a hotel room online, you could potentially keep yourself from ever letting this happen again.
Although, I can’t guarantee these questions will always keep you in a nice hotel room, I can say they will at least eliminate a few bad hotels from your search.
How Booking a Hotel Online Works
If you’ve never used third-party apps or hotel websites to book a hotel room online, it’s fairly simple. Many hotels don’t even require payment until you check-in, but they do, almost always, require you enter your credit card information. That way, if you don’t cancel in time, or if the hotel has a NO-refund policy, they will automatically charge your card.
Most of the time when you book a hotel room online, you just search for your location, the type of room you want, and how many guest you have. After you enter that criteria, the search engine does the rest itself.
From there, booking the hotel is as simple as a click of a button. Whenever you arrive at your booked hotel location, you simply check in like you would have, if you booked directly with the hotel.
My favorite booking site to use on vacation is Hotels.com.
Why You May Want to Book a Room Online
There are a lot of reasons why booking your hotel room online is better like;
The early bird gets the worm
Booking your room early helps to ensure you will have a room. Sometimes hotels have busy weeks due to conventions, events, and holidays, so if you wait to book your room, you may not get one.
Less stress on vacation
Who wants to worry about where they are going to stay while on vacation? I know I don’t. Booking online reduces the stress of finding an affordable vacant hotel.
Not only do you save more money booking your hotel room early, but you can also save money by using different apps and calling the hotel directly can save you more money than waiting until the day of to book your hotel room.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Booking Your Room Online
How Many Stars Does the Hotel Have?
I will say, you can’t always go by a hotel’s star rating because it can be manipulated, a good star rating from more than 1 customer is usually a good sign. If the hotel rates anything over a 4, I usually don’t worry about the room I’m staying in. And, if the hotel has negative reviews, it is always good to check out how the hotel responded to them – if they did.
Real Life Story: My family went to Tennessee, a while back, and hotel prices were kind of up. I was trying to find a room cheap and this Super 8 came up. Normally, I would never book a Super 8, but the reviews talked this place up. It had only a 2.5 star rating, but I thought it would be fine. Needless to say, this was the hotel of all scum hotels. When I tried to get our money back, the booking company refused to help. When I told the hotel, about our dirty blankets, tub, etc… they didn’t care. Beware of fake reviews on hotels and do more research before booking any hotel.
Does the Room Have Patterned Comforters?
One thing I learned in my days of housekeeping, is that those colorful, patterned comforters that hotels used to use, are there for a reason. These comforters usually hide stains and they don’t always get washed after each hotel guest. Ewww… Always opt to stay in hotels that offer the modern white comforters because these comforters show any dirt that they may have and tend to be what cleaner hotels opt for.
Have You Heard of the Hotel Brand Before?
There are many great mom and pop hotels out there, in fact I worked at one. While I fully support small businesses, you do have to be careful when booking hotel brands that you’ve never heard of or hotel brands that have a bad rep. Many of these hotels are cheaper priced and are known to have more of a rowdy guest list.
I suggest booking with familiar hotel names like; Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, Marriott, and Hilton because these hotels hold themselves to higher standards and have great customer service.
Real Life Story: My parents always booked cheaper hotels growing up and one time we stayed at one and I ended up with shingles. I was only 10 at the time, but the doctor said there are a ton of shingles cases from hotels. Apparently, I got shingles from a bath towel.
Do You Enter Your Room from the Inside or Out?
This one is not always true, but is a good rule of thumb. Almost every bad hotel experience we’ve ever had, has been with a motel with doors that you park in front of. Most of these hotels, in my experience, are dirty and known to be less family-friendly for your budget.
Real Life Story: My family vacationed in Bradenton, FL., a few years ago, and stayed at a motel. At about 2 am, my family awakened to a loud pounding at our door. When my husband woke up to answer it, it was about 20 armed police officers. They had mistaken our room for one a wanted-criminal was in! Talk about a morning wake-up call.
Does the Hotel Look Outdated?
For some hotels, outdated isn’t a bad thing, but when you start seeing pictures of old televisions and carpet that looks old, than maybe you should think again. Most nice hotels, even old hotels, have upgraded to flat screen televisions and nice carpeting, so don’t buy the we’re an old hotel act.
While there are many things you should take into account before booking a hotel room online, you should always ask yourself these questions.
Go ahead and have some fun by sharing your worst hotel experience in the comments below. I really would LOVE to hear about them!