Important Points to Consider
Before you get to the stage of actually booking your hotel, there are a number of things you'll want to consider beforehand, and in some cases, before you even start searching in the first place. Make sure you have an idea of where in the city or country that you want to stay, and how much you can afford to spend, as the most crucial criteria.
- Budget: One of the key things you'll need to consider is how much you want to spend, and how much you can afford to. Be prepared to adjust this slightly if the area you want to stay is cheaper/more expensive than expected, but have a definite maximum in mind before you get to booking.
- Days of travel: Often, you'll get a cheaper price if you travel midweek, rather than a long weekend, as hotels will have less people staying at these times. If you're able to stay during cheaper periods, then do so, you'll save a lot!
- Flexibility of stay: Some booking sites will check the cost for dates around when you requested too, and inform you if these are cheaper. Make sure you know how flexible you are over this, as you could save money this way.
- Additional costs: One of the big extra costs for hotels is breakfast, or meals in general. Decide whether you want to pay the extra for these, and if you don't, check that there will be suitable places to eat nearby, and the cost of these, as you may need to factor this into your budget.
- When to pay: It will vary with hotels as to whether you need to pay in advance, or if you pay on the day. It's very important that you know when you're going to pay, and ensure that you have enough money in your account at that time.
- Distance from city centre: Have a think about how far from the city centre you're willing to be. You might save a bundle by staying a short walk or bus ride outside the centre, but if you're unwilling, or unable, to travel far, then make sure you find somewhere sufficiently close to what you need.
- Parking: If you're planning on driving, make sure you know where the nearest parking is, how long you can stay for, and how much it will cost. The hotel might have it's own facilities, but enquire as to how quickly these fill up, as you might want to get in earlier to nab your spot!
Booking the Room
Of course, the most important part of all this is the actual booking, and getting this to run smoothly. There will be a number of different things to consider, but it's not as daunting as it may seem initially. If you're unsure of anything about a hotel, then you can get in touch with them directly, and look around online to see what other people have said about it.
- Read reviews: The last thing you want is to have an unwelcome surprise on the day, whether it be an unsatisfactory room, or poor service from the staff, so make sure you read the reviews for places you're unfamiliar with. Practically everywhere will have a few bad reviews, so don't worry about a couple of negative ones, but be aware of the overall views on the hotel.
- Check cancellation policies: Some hotels will allow you to cancel up to 24 hours beforehand, and if you can get this included, then it's definitely a good fallback to have. But don't assume this to be the case, check the policies carefully for the hotel you're looking at, and be aware that you may lose money if you cancel last minute. Other places, like Premier Inn, offer Flex prices, where you can cancel on the day in some cases, but you'll have to pay more for this. Decide whether the additional cost is worth it for you, and factor this into your overall budget.
- Age: If you're under 18, or under 16 especially, make sure the hotel doesn't have a policy of requiring an adult in order for you to check in or to stay there. You don't want to have travelled all the way and paid up, only to find out you're unable to stay in the hotel.
- The booking: Booking the actual room itself is pretty simple once you've found what you want, and made sure it's suitable. You can either do this directly through the website, or by calling the hotel, but make sure you have your card details to hand if they want you to pay up front. You'll need to provide details such as your travel dates, full name, and any optional extras you require, whichever medium you're using. Once you've sent off your booking, you should receive a confirmation by email; be sure not to lose this, as you'll need it when you get there!
Things You'll Need on the Day
As well as the run up to finding a hotel, and the booking itself, there are some things you'll need to consider upon the day, and upon your arrival. It's important that you have what you need, especially for booking confirmation and money!
- Booking confirmation: I'd always recommend printing this if possible, as there's always a risk of your phone running out of power etc. But don't worry massively if this isn't possible, as you can often just give your name for them to check in the system.
- Money: If you're paying on the day, make sure you have enough money to actually pay for the hotel! And if you're driving, it's always good to have some change on you in case you need to buy a ticket etc.
- Towels: Most hotels will have these provided, but make sure you check beforehand, you don't want to get there and realise you were supposed to bring your own! I have a travel towel that I like to take, as it barely takes up any space, but it's nice to have for piece of mind.
- Toiletries: Like with towels, a lot of hotels will provide some level of toiletries, but if you're sensitive to certain products, or have special requirements that you'll need, be sure to take your own. You can pick up travel sized ones for pretty cheap, and they also won't take up your entire luggage space that way!