This is number two in this help series and yes I know it’s very delayed eek. One of the most important parts of organising any trip is the accommodation. You’re going somewhere you probably don’t know very well – so to have the comfort and safety in knowing where you’ll be sleeping is always a way to reduce stress and anxiety. So here is how I go about finding/booking a hotel and hopefully it’s of use to you! I’ll be posting a part two to this which will feature information on booking accommodation that isn’t a hotel e.g. hostels, camping, rentals etc.
First I learn more about the place I’m going to. I think it’s important to have an understanding of where the main attractions are, main tourist locations, suburbs, transport in the area etc. You want to have a rough mental map of where things are so that once you start looking into hotels you’ll be able to see how far it is or what kind of neighbourhood it’s in. Along with that, it’s important to figure out your budget and how much you have to spend. Sometimes you have to take a realistic look at your trip finances and see what you can afford. You might be pleasantly surprised but if not just remember all you’re going to be using it for is a bed haha. For this post I’ll just use New York as the example. If you do your research on NYC well and you’re a comfortable traveller you can really stay anywhere (even outskirts like Brooklyn or Queens). The transport is easy to use so staying a little further out of the city isn’t a big deal and the areas are all safe and happening. I tend to get my Google on and find forums that people talk in, or even going to the library and getting out a travel book on the area is a great solution.
Next you need to figure out what you are using the accommodation for. Is it somewhere you’ll be spending most of your time? Are you just planning on using it as a bed and then leaving right away in the morning? Do you need parking, lockers, a swimming pool etc. That will be important for when you start searching and filtering out your options.
Now you get your search on. There are tons of different comparison websites and it can be really overwhelming. We all have our own preferences so once you find one that’s good for you stick to it. I like to use Hotels.com and Trivago. I’m constantly finding the former are sending me emails with coupons and discount codes which does make it cheaper. I like that on both you can search by area and also budget which is very handy and then you can see which ones are the most popular/often bought. I tend to browse through both and then make a list of five to ten hotels that seem like good possible options. Just a side note – I also sometimes use Hotwire. They are a website that posts rates but don’t reveal what the hotel is. It’s kind of an anonymous booking system but they tend to have sweet deals. Go check them out if you’re intrigued haha.
With that list I then go to TripAdvisor (one of my favourite websites) and research the options. I look for what rating they have, what number they are, if they’ve won any awards and what reviews they have. Some reviews you have to outwardly ignore as they’re bogus or very petty but most of the time they’re informative. I like to also see if a representative of the hotel has replied to any comments – I think that’s a good sign as they’re willing to help and are reliable. It’s fun to also browse through the photos and see if the place is something that appeals or not. For me, I’m not that fussy as I tend to treat hotels as just a place to drop off my stuff and sleep. I understand some people like to spend more of their time there and relax so you just have to do what’s right for you. Here you can see I’m looking up the Gramercy Park hotel that I found on Trivago and seeing what people have to say about them.
Once you’ve narrowed your list down further I’ll Google Map them. It’s important to see exactly where it is and then figure out what’s around it. Are there supermarkets nearby? Is there a metro or bus stop handy? How do I get there from the airport/station? Some of these questions are unrelated or unimportant to others but I like to always know. They shouldn’t be deciding questions but I think it’s good to take into consideration (especially if you’ll end up paying more money for transport or eating out). If you’re ever unsure on something then just email the hotel directly. Even if I think I’ve figured out how to get there from the airport, I always contact the hotel and ask them how they would do it just in case I’m missing out on some crucial shortcut/cheaper option. They obviously want to help and want you as a customer so don’t be afraid to reach out to them. This is also a good time to go on the hotel website. You can tell a lot about a place on how they market themselves and what their website is like. You also might find a better deal on their personal site compared to one of the comparison sites (this isn’t normally likely but you never know).
Last step is to book! You should now know what hotel you’re interested in and what website to book them with so go ahead and do it! It’s always exciting to have accommodation dealt with as now you just have the fun activities to plan.
Hope this helped and coming soon will be a brief post on hostels, camping, air bnb etc. Aka your other options if you aren’t a hotel person/looking for something different.