Finding a good hotel and making a reservation can be stressful, especially if you are trying to book a hotel room for a large family or at the last minute. With many hotel reservations done online, there are online tools you can use to compare rates and shop around before booking the right room for you and your family. If you have never booked a hotel room before, you can do so easily and quickly by following several simple steps.
Determine your budget. Before you look for a hotel and make a reservation, you want to ensure the hotel will meet your budget and your needs. You should first determine your budget, or how much you can spend, when booking a hotel room. This will help you narrow down your search and be efficient with the time you spend looking for a hotel and booking a room.
Are you on a tight budget, with a set rate you are willing to pay every night? You may have a budget of a certain amount of money for your trip and a certain amount allocated to cover your accommodations. Having a limited budget does not mean you will end up staying in a cheap, dirty hotel. In fact, there are many discount options available for visitors on a budget.
On the flip side, you may be travelling for work and have the ability to expense your accommodations to your company’s account. In this case, an affordable hotel rate may not be as much of a priority for you.
Think about your required accommodations during your stay. Do you require enough room for a family of four, or do you just need enough room for yourself? Consider how big you would like the hotel room to be, including how many beds you require and how many bathrooms. If you are traveling with your family, you may need two queen beds and one large bathroom. If you are traveling solo, you may just need one queen bed and one decently sized bathroom.If you are disabled or require disability facilities, you may also want to factor this in when considering hotels. Many hotels will note if they are wheelchair accessible and offer disability amenities. You can also call the hotel to confirm if they offer facilities for people with disabilities.
You may also want to consider if you would like to stay at a hotel that has a spa and a fitness center that you can use, or if you do not require any extra amenities. If you need a solid internet connection, look at hotels that offer free Wi-Fi as part of the nightly rate.
If you are traveling as a family or in a big group, you might want to consider booking a suite with separate living area and bedroom so that the whole group can be accommodated without space and privacy constraints.
Identify your ideal location or area. Sometimes, location can trump budget or required accommodations, especially if you are look for a location that is convenient. Are you looking for a hotel that is close to a work event or conference? Are you looking for a hotel that is close to a specific tourist attraction? You may decide to stay in a location that is central or downtown, which will allow you to access different parts of the city easily. Or, you may decide to choose a more secluded location so you have some privacy and can drive or walk to and from the main areas of town.Often, your ideal location will be based on the type of trip you will be taking. If you are traveling for business, you may decide to search for hotels that are close to a work conference or meeting. If you are traveling for pleasure, you may decide to look for hotels that are walking distance to a hot spot or area or hotels that offer a package that includes a car rental or a bike rental so you can get around easily.
Search for hotels online. The quickest way to look for hotels is online through a hotel search engine. These search engines will allow you to specify your planned days of travel, how many nights you require, your ideal location, and your required amenities, if any. You can also specify how much you are willing to spend on the hotel.Once you enter this information into the search engine, you will be presented with several hotel options. You can order the options from lowest to highest in terms of price, or use the map option to look at hotels that are closer to a certain area or location.
Keep in mind online search engines for hotels do not always show any extra surcharges or fees for the room. Make sure you note any small print next to the stated price for the room before you consider it.
Some credit cards and AAA providers also offer hotel search services to their members and discounts on certain hotels. You should contact your credit card company or your AAA provider for more information.
Compare hotels using discounted search tools. You can also use discounted search tools to compare several hotel options at once. All you need to do is specify your travel dates and your price points. These online sites will then search multiple databases for you and present several hotel options that best match your needs and that are discounted or offer cheaper rates.You should also read the online reviews for several hotels you are considering. Often, online reviews can give you a good sense of the level of cleanliness of the hotel and the quality of customer service and amenities offered by the hotel. There are often starred ratings available for each hotel based on the guest’s overall experience. You can then weigh the online reviews against the price and location of the hotel to then determine if the hotel will meet your needs.
Keep in mind some discounted search tools require you to book the hotel room before knowing exactly which hotel you were be staying in. Always read the fine print before you book a hotel room to make sure you are not surprised by any restrictions or stipulations.
Call the hotel to get a better rate. Calling the hotel directly can land you a last minute booking or a better rate. You may also be able to get a better sense of the customer service offered at the hotel, as you will be able to speak to the front desk and ask them specific questions about the hotel. Try to call in the late evening, as the mornings and afternoons are often busy for the front desk. You may want to ask questions such as:Is there a restaurant or bar on site? Is breakfast included in the nightly rate?
Do you offer non-smoking rooms?
Is the hotel near public transportation? Do you offer transportation like rental bikes?
How far is the hotel from a specific location or area, such as the beach, the convention center, the city center?
Which side of the hotel has a better view or less noise?
Is the area around the hotel safe?
Are there facilities available for the disabled?
What is the hotel’s cancellation policy?
Booking the Hotel
Reserve the room online. Once you have selected your hotel room, you can reserve it online through the hotel website. You will need to provide basic information about yourself for the booking, such as your full name and your travel dates.You can also reserve the room by calling the hotel directly. If you decide to book the hotel over the phone, try to call in the late evening as mornings and mid afternoons can be busy for the front desk.
If you are looking for a group rate for a conference or a wedding, for example, you should call the hotel directly and speak to the front desk. Many hotels do not advertise group rates online and can often offer you better rates over the phone.
Pay for the room with your credit card. Many online bookings will require payment via a credit card. If you are traveling on a business trip, you may use the company credit card to pay for the hotel.Always check if your credit card offers any discounts on hotels and accommodations so you can use them when you pay for the hotel room. As well, your AAA provider may also offer discounted rates on hotels.
If you are staying at the hotel for an extended period of time, you may be able to pay for the first two to three nights upfront and then cover the rest of your stay once you get to the hotel. You will then be required to leave your credit card number on file and settle your bill at the front desk on your check out day.
Read over your receipt carefully to confirm your travel dates are correct and the agreed upon rate for the room is correct. The hotel should specify all regulatory fees and charges before you pay for the room or reserve the room. Extra fees, such as a cleaning fee or a parking fee, should be explained to you by the hotel so you are not surprised by any hidden fees when you check out.