Essential Tips for a Great Hotel Stay

Few things can ruin a trip more than a bad lodging experience. Luckily, with a little planning, you can ensure

Few things can ruin a trip more than a bad lodging experience. Luckily, with a little planning, you can ensure that your choice of hotel is the best one for you—and that you remain happy throughout your stay.


Determine your needs
Think about the type of accommodations you prefer. How much are you looking to spend per night? Do you need a hotel with a pool for your kids, or a fitness center for you? Are you hoping breakfast is included? Once you’ve decided on your priorities, you can better target your search.

Search online, but book directly with the hotel
Use—which searches aggregators and booking engines such as and, as well as hotel websites—to find the best place to stay. Then book your room directly with the hotel. You’ll often get a better rate without paying the fees of the booking engines, and you’ll have the goodwill of the hotel in case something goes wrong.

Get feedback
Visit sites such as and to read traveler reviews of the hotel you are considering.

Avoid extra fees
When booking online, be sure to read each itemized charge before hitting the “book now” button. Call to ask about parking fees, Wi-Fi charges, and other extra costs.

Map it out
Some search engines, such as and, allow you to search for and map a hotel in relation to certain attractions, like Disneyland or Times Square. You can also use Google Maps to see how close the hotel is to the attractions you plan to visit.

Beware of rewards programs
If you’re primarily a business traveler, rewards programs make sense because hotels do actually reward frequent travelers who stay with them often. But if you’re more of a leisure traveler, make sure you don’t choose a hotel that costs more or is in a less convenient location just to get points.


Follow up on special requests
If you asked for a quiet room on the top floor when you booked, call the hotel’s front desk—not the 800 number—to confirm your request before arriving.

Take a good look at the room
Assess the room as soon as you check in to make sure it’s clean and that everything is working. Also note the room’s location: Is it right above the hotel’s nightclub? Is loud construction taking place right outside? Does the room offer the ocean view it promised? If you are not satisfied, ask to be moved right away.

Address your issues
If you have a minor problem with the hotel, call the front desk to see if it can quickly be resolved. If it can’t, or if the issue is more complicated, visit the front desk. If that doesn’t work, call the manager and then move up the chain of command. Put everything in writing so that you’ll have a paper trail. Whatever you do, don’t let an online complaint be the first time the hotel hears about your problem.


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Originally Published in Reader's Digest