Good things to think about, before you book a hotel
Hospitality is one of the most competitive and intense industries there is.
A hotel business can be made or broken by missing a few small, yet key customer service points.
Although competition has pushed hotel managers to adhere to high quality cleanliness and customer experience, there are still a lot of stories of disappointment and outright disaster.
Most generally don't like to fuss and we even question ourselves as to whether the hotel's standards were below what was advertised, or whether our expectations too high? We guess that would have to be decided on a case-by case basis.
But you can significantly reduce your chances of a bad hotel experience if you have a better picture of what sort of establishment it is, even before booking.
The last thing we want to do when arriving at a hotel is to complain about something.
Well, we can’t promise to solve this problem completely, but there certainly are things you can do before booking to get a reliable feel for the overall quality of a particular hotel.
Disclaimer: We are referring to hotels and hotel rooms in this article. Other accommodation types offer and include (or don’t include) a number of other things. If you want to know more about the other types of holiday accommodation, we have a very useful guide you can read.
We must start here. Price will be a huge determining factor on all aspects of a hotel. If you are paying next to nothing for a room, you can’t expect a four-seasons experience!
According to trivago's very useful Hotel Price Index (data from July 2022), the "average rate per night for a standard double room over the last 12 months" for some of the most visited cities around the world are:
- London - £247.00
- Sydney - £144.00
- New York - £290.00
- Paris - £212.00
- Barcelona - £202.00
- Las Vegas - £167.00
- Istanbul - £97.00
- Bangkok - £48.00
This takes into account the entire spectrum, from very cheap rooms, to the most expensive. Using data like this, you can gauge how a hotel you're looking at compares with the general price of that area. It can help you set a marker for the highest you're willing to spend per night on accommodation.
We’ve decided to aim for the mid-range hotels. This captures the broadest cope that you'd typically encounter and unless you are going for the extremities (budget or luxury hotels), then this will be a great guide to help you navigate to the best possible choice for you!
And to be fair, you can even use this as the standard to compare against budget and luxury hotels as well.
It’s important that a hotel has taken the time to carefully select clear and attractive pictures of their premises and rooms. And one picture really won’t do it.
If you’re able to get a good feel of an establishment after browsing through their picture gallery, then you’re already on your way to making the right choice. Pictures can include:
- Rooms(mandatory), including shower room if applicable.
- Hotel features, e.g. business suite, lounge, bars/restaurants etc.
- Other parts of the building (such as a roof terrace), or the grounds surrounding it.
Our hotel meta-search technology is packed with millions of accommodation choices, and one thing almost all have in common -lots of snaps!
Most will offer breakfast either as part of the price or separately. It’s always a nice concession to have this meal as part of the price to save you having to make arrangement in the morning to find food.
Hotels that have thought about this part of the customer experience usually are on the ‘better’ side of the spectrum
On our hotel listings, each hotel will state clearly whether or not breakfast is included. It’s a small yet surprisingly important piece of information you don’t want miss.
Free cancellation – post 2020
This has become an increasingly popular policy adopted by many in the industry. As government guidelines can change very fast, new practice includes not charging the guest for a cancellation due to global movement restrictions or any other issue.
It’s comforting to have that piece of mind if you are making that booking, so if things do take a turn for the worse, that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about.
We offer a ‘free cancellation’ filter as part of our search and compare service, so if this is important to you, view only those who offer this service.
No language barrier
Communication is key, we want to understand and be understood and that’s a very reasonable expectation in a well-established and very experienced industry.
Generally, hotels will tell you what languages they’re able to communicate in, but as a minimum these will likley include:
- English– being the most widely spoken language and the one that connects most peoples of the world together.
- Native tongue of the hotel – if it’s a hotel in Paris, then French, in Barcelona, then Spanish, and so forth.
With apps and other technologies being released all the time, there are ways to translate spoken words into another language live, but nothing beats the feels of talking to someone directly. So, check to see if the hotel has thought to include details about this, if they have then that’s a good sign.
Room cleaned daily?
Don’t always assume this is a given. As good practice, for hygiene and great customer experience, the cleaning policy of a quality establishment should include attending to rooms on a daily basis.
Whether it’s a thorough clean, making beds, cleaning shower room, changing towels, topping up the fridge or tea/coffee, leaving sweets or animal-shaped handtowels on the bed, even the smallest things can make a huge difference.
Hotels should let you know in their listing whether or not rooms are catered for on a daily basis.
Hotel room amenities
Now this can certainly vary from location to location, but some of the important things to look out for are the following:
- Air conditioning (particularly if in a hotter climate, this will be very important)
- Water/coffee/tea (free, or reasonably priced – we like free!)
- Reception contact details (so you don’t have to leave your room to go to the front desk if you have a query)
With all these, you should have all you need to enjoy your room and if you need anything, the staff should be on call, and speaking of that…
24 hours concierge/reception.
This is standard in most places, but always check just to make sure. Any good hotel should be able to offer a 24 hours service, even if service is reduced at night.
Restaurants/café/bar on site or nearby?
Now of course the ideal scenario would be to have an on-site eatery. That way even if you don’t plan on eating in, you always have that last option and it’s very convenient to be able to eat and get to your room in record time.
Not just that, but if you wanted a drink, or just a change of scenery without having to leave the hotel, bars and restaurants are always a massive hit. While not essential as part of your stay, those who offer these services are really thinking about the entire journey of their guests and all the needs they may have during their stay with them.
If the hotel doesn’t have these features, then they should provide great guidance as to where you can find all that you need and more locally, so always ask!
Check-in/check-out times – luggage storage
This can be a hard one to judge, but as a general rule, check in should be no later than early afternoon and check-out mid to late morning.
The main variable here is the flexibility of the hotel. Do they offer a luggage storage service once you check out which you can come back and collect later?
Will they allow a late checkout (which may charge), making it more convenient for the guest?
Find out on their listing, but if it’s not there you can always get in touch with the hotel. A quick call or email is better than being disappointed later down the line!
TrustYou features as the rating system for all accommodations listed on our website – as many of the top travel-based websites do.
TrustYou has over 700 million reviews analysed world-wide, a huge repository of hotels in their database and is used extensively not just by guests looking for an in-depth evaluation of a hotel, but also by hotels to see where they’re doing great (so to keep dong that) and also areas for improvement.
It’s a fantastic service to the industry, dedicated to accuracy and customer feedback.
By having this technology on our platform, we think the ratings given can be relied upon as they are from those who have been there before you.
Certain ratings will be more important than others, so while looking at the overall rating, also look at the specific strength of the hotel.
There should always be every effort made to ensure everyone, no matter about impairment, has an opportunity to stay as a guest in a hotel.
Look out for this in the hotel listing, they should indicate if they are mobility friendly. Things such as lifts and ramps are amongst some of the common features that allow all guests to enjoy the experience.
Particularly if you are staying domestically, you might want to drive to the hotel. Many have carparks on-site or there may be parking nearby.
Check on the hotels listing if this is a requirement. You can filter by parking availability on our hotel search engine – so if this is a must then make sure you do that. Don’t risk assuming you’ll find parking around the hotel, particularly if you are staying in a built up area as this can be an issue. Check with the hotel and let them advise you on the parking situation as they’d know the landscape best.
The best way to determine the quality of a hotel is to browse a few. This is what our hotel comparison service is all about. So you can compare not just price, but features, facilities and ratings.
Browse in a location of your choice. Filter by whatever you like. The more pictures you see and descriptions you read the more confident you’ll feel when it comes time to book. Follow our guide and you’ll be a much happier guest in a much better stay of your choice!