What do you look for in a hotel?

Old Feb 9th, 2009, 11:06 AM
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What do you look for in a hotel?

My question of the week concerns hotels. What do you look for in a hotel? What do you need (and what are you willing to pay for)? What isn't important to you at all? Has the economic downturn made hotels more affordable where you have been traveling since September? My column this week raises some of these questions here: http://www.fodors.com/news/story_3298.html.
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 11:28 AM
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I look for a hotel that's going to be in a good location.

I look for basic comforts, and, hopefully, some reviews that help me confirm a selection. I prefer places with a private bathroom, some sort of breakfast, and decent beds.

I've stayed in 5* hotels and 2* hotels, appreciate the difference, but totally reluctant to pay the difference.

In Paris I usually stay in the 6th arrondissement. It's close to many things, and close to Metro stations. There's a lot of activity, and isn't going to be deserted at night, as the 8th can be.

In London, I look for price breaks, as one can get around London pretty much by walking.

In Madrid, Rome, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Munich, it's location. In smaller cities, it depends on my mode of transportation.

I'm not that keen on shows in English, hoever, the Sky channel seems to be everywhere.
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 03:30 PM
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I just finished picking hotels for a month in France, so this is fairly fresh in my mind. The improvement in the exchange rate over last spring has helped, but I don't trust it to last through the end of April!

These are my criteria for hotels in Europe and Asia:

1. Price - I won't look at anything in Europe much over 80 euros, or in Asia over $35.

2. Location. I use public transport, so a central location is very important - or at least somewhere close to a metro or bus stop!

3. En-suite. This is not an absolute requirement, as I've stayed in a number of places with the toilet and/or shower down the hall, but I prefer en-suite.

4. Size - small is better. I actively avoid Marriotts, Hiltons etc.

5. Charm - nice but not a deal breaker. My cheap hotel in Paris had zero charm, but there was more than enough outside.

6. An apartment - nice, but I travel solo and usually can't afford this. I am staying at a Citadines apt. hotel in Grenoble because I got a good rate on Expedia.

I suppose I should add safety, but that's not something I generally worry about in Europe and Asia. I should say that when it comes to US hotels I would worry about safety, and I'd probably have a different set of requirements, but I don't travel that much in the US.

Outside the US I don't care about:

Elevators - I don't travel with more than I can carry, and I don't stay in huge hotels.
Room service - eating out is part of the fun of the trip.
Bell boys, concierges, etc. etc.
Business centers, wifi etc. - I use internet cafes, although as they become scarcer in Europe I may have to buy a notepad and switch to wifi.
Swimming pools - except in rare cases
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 06:21 PM
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Smaller hotels, Twin bed room, ensuite, empty fridge or one I can reorganize to hold my stuff, Wifi especially if free, breakfast / coffee. Reviews that indicate it's going to be clean and NO mention of mold or smoke. Mostly traveling in Europe, so my target price range for a twin room is 90-150 euro. I enjoy hearing other (non-American) accents down in the breakfast room.

I don't need a lot of services, staff, antique furnishings, fancy restaurants, pool or gym....
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 06:34 PM
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Very Important (read: I NEED)
cleaniness & non-smoking
private bathroom
price
quiet at night

Important
safe neighborhood
convenient location (I don't want to waste 20-30 mins each way to commute)

Somewhat Important (read: nice if they have it)
rate includes breakfast (only if DH is with me, as I don't care for breakfast)
free parking (if I have a car)
free wi-fi in room

NOT Important
Any amenities - I don't care if there's a phone or TV or hairdryer or minibar or alarm clock or bathrobe etc. I mean, these things are nice if available, but I can definitely survive at hotels without them if the price is right.
I also don't care if there's concierge or bellboy as I have no use for them.

The most basic place I've stayed in recent years, is the LSE dorm in London. It has ensuite bathroom which is nice, but otherwise it is very no frills. It doesn't even provide soap.
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 06:36 PM
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Right travelnut - I'd forgotten about the reviews. Any mention of noise - either a night club in the hotel, or thin walls - or mold in the bathroom or blood on the sheets is a turnoff. But I do weigh one bad review against a lot of good ones, given that all parties have posted multiple reviews. I might discount a bad review from a one-post reviewer.
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 06:46 PM
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What I look for varies depending on several factors, including the purpose of the trip, whether or not I'm alone and whether or not the place I'm visiting offers good value in hotels.

Essential:

- Clean (I check tripadvisor and other reviews. If there are any negative reviews about cleanliness, the hotel is scratched off my list).

- Convenient/safe location (and if I'm travelling alone, it has to be convenient to public transit since I can't drive).

- Ensuite bathroom facilities (I've made an exception to this a few times, e.g. in Morocco).

- Good value for the $. This is a trickier one. I've stayed in $600 hotels that were great value (e.g. the Shangri-La in Oman, where we had a 6 pm checkout and a midnight flight - essentially we got somewhere gorgeous to stay for 38 hours) and I've also stayed in $30 accommodation that was great value. (The YMCA in Christchurch, NZ comes to mind. The hotels in town seemed quite overpriced, and the Y had private rooms with ensuite facilities and was located within a few blocks of the city centre.) Sometimes, paying another $25-30 delivers a significantly better class of accommodation, especially in some places in the far east (like Thailand). In other cities (e.g. London and New York), you may have to pay $100 or more to see a significant difference in quality. In such circumstances, I either don't bother paying the premium, or I bid on 4* hotels through Priceline.

Important but not essential:

- Attractive decor is important to me. I am one of those people who does actually spend time in her room (especially if I'm travelling alone for work or otherwise), so the look of a room is important to me. I've had great luck finding stylish rooms in boutique hotels that suit my taste in Barcelona and Madrid. On the other hand, the pictures of hotel rooms in the Italian hotels I've been researching recently all look they've got my parents bedspread from 1970. Ack. I'm having a hard time getting excited about any of these hotels.

- I like quirky hotels, especially hotels with a bit of a history. Outside Dunedin in New Zealand, I stayed in a barn in a room where my bed was built into an old wagon. I stayed in a converted Masonic temple in Napier and in the charmingly named "Lobster Motor Inn" in Kaikoura (I didn't know lobsters stayed in hotels - or that they could drive ...) In Berlin, I stayed in the Propeller Island Lodge, where each room was a bizarre work of art (you could sleep in a coffin, or a jail cell, or on a floating bed ...)

- But I also like hotel points (see my earlier thread). In some cities, chain hotels can be a good value, can have some personality and, at least in the 3-5* range, offer a degree of reliability in terms of quality. For example, some of the Best Westerns in France are surprisingly nice. Also, after a couple of weeks in skinny not-very-comfortable European beds, a night in a king size Marriott bed can be great. In other places, it's better to stay in an independent hotel. If it's a city that has good value Marriotts, Hiltons or Sheratons in my price range, I am likely to choose one over a non-chain hotel, everything else being equal (but that's a big if) because then I'll accumulate points that I can use for a great stay somewhere else in the future.

- I'll pay extra for a great bathroom. In Essaouira, after 6 days hiking in the mountains, my husband and I swooned when we saw the giant bathtub (large enough for us both to lie down full length side by side) in the Riad Madada Mogador. At the Conrad in Bangkok, I paid about $30 extra (maybe US $150 in total) for an Executive Floor room, where the bathroom contained a huge clawfoot tub that looked out across a glass wall to the bedroom. Our hotel in Playa Del Carmen had an outdoor shower.
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 06:50 PM
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The answer to this question varies depending on the purpose of my trip. I generally like a mid-priced hotel, nothing fancy or with pampering involved, that is in a good location. No need for high count thread bedsheets for me, no concierge needed, just something clean and safe. I do enjoy a great breakfast buffet.

My husband would answer at least one TV, flat-screened preferred. We'll never be able to stay at Caneel Bay on St. John because of this requirement

If my daughter is traveling with me I look for a nice outdoor pool in the summer and an indoor pool in the winter.
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 07:18 PM
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Price - US/Canada under $100; elsewhere at a rate that provides the same basic qualities as the $100 does here.

No Funky Smells - while I'm not fond of smoke smell, I can deal with it for a few days, but what I can't deal with is the unidentifiable smells that some hotels have.

Private Bath - I want my own shower. I prefer one with a full size bath/shower rather than a stall or half-tub set up, but I'll deal with it if necessary.

Location - if it's a destination where I plan on using public transit, then I want to be able to get to the downtown area with as few transfers as possible, however I don't mind taking an hour to get there and back.

Parking - if I have a car rental, I want free parking.

What I don't care about:

Room service/on-site food service (free breakfasts, restaurant, etc.)

Gym, swimming pool, private lounge, etc.

In-room ammenities like Wifi, iron, coffee, etc. A phone is nice, but not a deal breaker.
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Old Feb 9th, 2009, 09:11 PM
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Similar to what others have posted:

MUST HAVES
----------
Clean
No Smells (smoking, perfumes, etc.)
Quiet
Ensuite bathroom
Reasonably Priced (varies on location)
Good location

NICE TO HAVE
------------
Fridge to hold my own stuff
Room safe
Great location

A good location is one that is near transit or where driving gets us to where we're going in a reasonable amount of time (1/2 hour).

I always bring a hair dryer with me and all my own toiletries, so I don't need/want that stuff cluttering up the usually small amount of counter space.

I don't drink coffee, so don't need the coffe maker etc. cluttering up valuable counter space. But I sometimes travel with friends who would list that as a must have.

I like B&Bs. It's nice to not have to factor time to travel to a place to eat breakfast and its an opportunity to meet and talk with others. If I do have to travel to breakfast, I prefer buffets so I don't have to wait for the order.

If I have a fridge, and no breakfast is offered, I usually do my own thing in the room (usually yogurt, granola, fruit).

Unless I'm on a business trip, I've never stayed anywhere where there was a concierge or bell boys etc. I don't need/miss them.

Sometimes a television has been nice for catching up on news or viewing a movie on a night when just staying in and relaxing.

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Old Feb 10th, 2009, 01:31 AM
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My favourite part of booking a trip is researching the accommodation.

Most important to us is a central location.

In Europe we nearly always go for a smaller family run establishment.

Room must be non smoking and clean but doesn't matter if it's small. Must have double bed (not twins) and our own shower and loo.

Everything else is a bit unnecessary.

Regarding cost, we currently spend the pound when travelling so anything in Europe/ USA costs us more since the currency exchange dived. We still travel though

Kay
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Old Feb 10th, 2009, 07:55 AM
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If it's just for one night, I can deal as long as the room is clean, quiet, and has a reasonably comfortable bed.

For longer stays, I prefer a place that includes breakfast or has a refrigerator in the room. TV and phone aren't important but an iron is helpful.

For more than one night, I like cheerful decor. It doesn't have to be fancy, but looking at 1970's decor for more than the briefest stay gets depressing. I also prefer a table with two chairs to a desk.

Loaction is important, but I weigh that against the cost of the room. In a big city, I'm usually happy as long as I have easy access to public transportation. I don't have to be in the thick of things as long as there's a grocery store nearby, and the neighborhood is pleasant to walk around in and safe.

I don't mind staying in large chain hotels overseas some of the time if I have hotel points to cover it. You can't beat free, and sometimes it's nice to be anonymous. Also, smaller hotels often don't want you to bring in food, while larger hotels don't care because they offer room service anyway.

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Old Feb 10th, 2009, 09:35 AM
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Cosy and nice atmosphere by the river like this resort on the River Kwai

Here is the link www.tropicalmagazine.info/archives/1202

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Old Feb 10th, 2009, 11:41 AM
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What I need is a clean comfortable bed and enough quiet at night that I can sleep.

Then, a location convenient enough that I can walk to stores, restaurants, sightseeing or transit stops that will get me to the places I want to see.

Real coffee is a big bonus (in room or at breakfast included). If there is a breakfast then it should be worth eating, not just fake juice and a roll or muffin. A buffet is nice, or comments about fresh fruit, yogurt, and the things I normally eat.

A free internet computer (not wifi since I don't travel with a laptop).

A nice view or interesting building or decor. Not fancy, and not overdone cutesy.

A refrigerator and microwave is nice, but not essential.

I like nice hotel toiletries, so sometimes that might make the diffence, such as Kimpton providing Aveda or L'Occitane.

What I don't need or don't like to pay for:

Elevators, busboys, room service, concierges and parking. A hair dryer.

An on-site restaurant and a minibar.

Resort fees that include things I don't use, like USA Today. If it's a reasonable fee and includes use of a nice fitness center with included classes, then I don't mind if that's the purpose of the trip.










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Old Feb 10th, 2009, 04:34 PM
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If I'm staying in a hotel, I want room service. I know I can grab a sandwich somewhere but I do that at home & I love hotel breakfasts, especially in room even though I never eat breakfast at home. I don't stay in hotels all that often since I'm job-bound but room service to me is a treat & I'll pay the price.

Very clean.

WIFI & I'll pay for it. Funny how you usually have to pay for it in the higher priced hotels while many 2 & 3 stars give it free.

En suite is a must.

With Priceline you can get good deals in a lot of places.

I'm in the Caribbean & there are deals to be had even though this is the height of the high season.
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Old Feb 11th, 2009, 06:33 AM
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Memories from a trip are the reason I love to travel and the accommodations can be a big part of my memory. Thus, one can drag me through the dust and sand all day long or walk me to death viewing museums and antiquites or shopping, however, I must have a nice clean, tranquil and yes charming room to come back to at night and it does NOT have to be five star. I want a private bath and breakfast, if I have read in advance that it is a good one. I would rather eat where the locals eat otherwise. Safety and NO BED BUGS are a must.

I am a single woman and do travel alone sometimes and I want a room safe and perhaps a small refrigerator although this is not necessary. I prefer the boutique hotels and Inns and B&B's to chain hotels because in my everyday life I work hard, too hard, to stay at the Days Inn or equivalent. That is my feeling. I would rather stay home than stay in a dismal hotel room.
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Old Feb 11th, 2009, 08:17 PM
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En suite

A REAL Non smoking

The door locks

CLEAN
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Old Feb 12th, 2009, 05:10 AM
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I go for design, innovation and comfort, I never pay more than 250 euros (I guess a lot) but I do a lot of research and find most for around 180, my favourites in Paris at The Five --tiny but great, le petit moulin - under 200 and great -- Apostrophe is also fabulous. I'd like to get to the latest hip hotel in the 20th Mama Shelter.

Personally, I appreciate those who try and create more than a hotel experience. In London, St. Martins Lane if you can afford it or the wonderfully crazy hotel for pop stars and models the Pavilion for less than 100 GBP a double but not for the feint hearted. I could go on, I could also spend my weekends in hotels, love them
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Old Feb 12th, 2009, 07:13 AM
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Clean, safe, and close to public transportation are the current requirements if staying in a city without a car. I always read reviews and consult tripadvisor for information. Air conditioning is important to me to provide coolness along with a background "hum" to block out hall or street noises. European hotels may advertise AC, but it may not be turned on in the winter months. A power shower is appreciated along with a good mattress and free breakfast to start the day well. Certain amenities are important if you are vacationing somewhere for a week versus just staying one night. There are always affordable places if you look hard enough, but they may cut corners on size, location and breakfast.
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Old Feb 13th, 2009, 05:21 AM
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We collect hotel points so we stay in many Marriotts and Hiltons for free on vacation. DH uses them while traveling on business.

Important to me: Clean room, private bathroom, AIR CONDITIONING, like a quiet room, and good neighborhood.

A/C was something we did without last summer for part of our trip in Austria and it is hot in the summer! I also can't take the street noise because of having to leave the windows open. I did not book the hotels, our cousin did. While charming, I found it very difficult to sleep in most of the places he picked. Give me a Marriott or Hilton any day. I can walk around during the day and see tons of charm, but I like a quiet comfortable bed with a/c to sleep in.
I have enjoyed a few luxury hotels in my life, but luxury is what it is and isn't a requirement.

I have found hotels just as expensive as ever while checking for room rates for this summer.
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