So you’re going abroad, you’ve chosen your destination and now you have to choose a hotel. Ten years ago, you’d have probably visited your local travel agent and trusted the face-to-face advice you were given by the so called ‘experts’. The 21st Century way to select and book your hotel is of course on the Internet, by using travel websites.
But how do you sift through the amazing choices on offer? And more importantly, do you really trust the photographs and descriptions of the hotels that they have awarded themselves with the motivation of getting bookings?
Traveler reviews can be helpful, but you need to exercise caution. They are often biased, sometimes out of date, and may not serve your interests at all. How do you know that the features that are important to the reviewer are important to you? Then there’s the problem of the reviewer’s motivation. The more reviews you read, the more you notice how they tend to cluster at the extremes of opinion. On one end, you have angry reviewers with axes to grind; at the other, you have delighted guests who lavish praise beyond belief.
You’ll not be surprised to learn that hotels sometimes post their own glowing reviews, or that competitor’s line up for the chance to lambaste the competition with bad reviews. It makes sense to consider what is really important to you when selecting a hotel. You should then choose an online hotel directory that gives up-to-date, independent, impartial information that really matters.
Here are some of the key facts you should bear in mind:
- Location: if it matters that your hotel is, for example, on the beach, close to the theme park, or convenient for the airport, then location is paramount. Any decent directory should offer a location map of the hotel and its surroundings. There should be distance charts to the airport offered as well as some form of interactive map.
- Style: it is important to choose a hotel that makes you feel comfortable – contemporary or traditional furnishings, local decor or international, formal or relaxed. The ideal hotel directory should let you know of the options available.
- Restaurants, Cafes and Bars: local color is great but the hotel’s own restaurants and bars can play an important part in your stay. You should be aware of choice, style and whether or not they are smart or informal. A good hotel report should tell you this, and particularly about breakfast facilities.
- Bedroom Facilities: you should always carefully consider the type of facilities you need from your bedroom and find the hotel that has those you consider important. The hotel directory website should elaborate on matters such as: bed size, Internet Access (its cost, whether there is WIFI or wired broadband connection), Complimentary amenities, views from the room and luxury offerings like a Pillow menu or Bath menu, choice of smoking or non smoking rooms etc.
These things really do matter and any decent hotel directory should give you this sort of advice on bedrooms – not just the number of rooms which is the usual option!
- Children’s’ Facilities: more important to the family traveler than the business traveler, you should find out just how child friendly the hotel is from the directory and make your decision from there. One thing worth looking for is whether the hotel offers a baby sitters service. For the business traveler wishing to escape children this is of course very relevant too – perhaps a hotel that is not child friendly would be something more appropriate!
- Leisure Facilities: the site should offer a detailed analysis of leisure services within the hotel – spa, pool, gym, sauna – as well as details of any other facilities nearby such as golf courses.
- Special Needs: the hotel directory site should advise the visitor of each hotel’s special needs services and accessibility policy. Whilst again this does not apply to every visitor, it is absolutely vital to some.
Finally and most importantly, the quality hotel directory inspection team should have visited the hotel in question on a regular basis, met the staff, slept in a bedroom and tried the food. They should experience the hotel as only a hotel guest can and it is only then that they are really in a strong position to write about the hotel.