There is a fundamental difference in the process of choosing a restaurant and hotel: we book a room in advance, while the search for a restaurant is a spontaneous activity. Of course, there are options. Sometimes you look for a hotel, having already arrived at the place, and the table at the star chef you order for a year, but exceptions to the rules do not cancel. That is why we will be guided by the classic case: you have to travel, neither agent nor secretary did your job for you, and the choice of accommodation is your concern.
The first criterion. Territorial
We rarely travel exclusively in order to stay in a particular hotel. Although, when Burj Al Arab was built and declared a million stars, the most curious went to Dubai just to stay in a hotel-sail for a couple of days. But now it is not about Burj and the like.
Usually we know the direction (city, province, beach) and want to find a haven in a very specific place. What are we doing? That’s right, we resort to different Google and online booking services. We type in the search bar coordinates, dates and we get rid of a web of heaps of unspoken names, pictures, raptures, curses and other information.
You can narrow down the search boundaries. Booking service sites allow you to set the most accurate search criteria: street, station or at least the area of the city. But in any case, in front of you, as a rule, the list of dozens of hotels. And then we take the second step.
The second criterion. Star
The most common hotel ranking system is five-star, but these stars can mean different things in different countries. In Italy, for example, four stars often decorate absolutely luxurious hotels, whose owners simply do not want to pay additional taxes. Conversely, in India, other innkeepers assign themselves a scatter of stars in a quite voluntaristic way.
Naturally, when choosing the stars, one should also bear in mind that some stunning places have no stars at all. There are rooms with breakfast in private houses, castles with guest apartments, rented apartments, and safari camps, fishing houses, hotels on the rails or on the water – trains and cruise ships. Sometimes such rooms (apartments, apartments, tents, coupe) turn out to be much more luxurious than rooms in densely decorated star hotels. In Palermo, for example, I always rent a room from a nice crazy tango dancer, and enjoy home food and the atmosphere of an antique bar apartment.
The third criterion. Network
However, a five-star level (and our expectations of five stars) is quite guaranteed to belong to a known network or association. Many loyal customers of the networks begin to choose a hotel by studying the relevant site, and only after making sure that there is no Hyatt (Hilton, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental …) or a hotel in an association such as Leading Hotels of the World, start the search from scratch.
Indeed, settling in a chain hotel, you can be sure of both the level of service and the quality of the sheets. Actually, many chains build their hotels in such a way that the client, coming to an unfamiliar city, did not notice any difference: here is a chair – on it sits, here is a table – on it eats; and these chairs and tables in the chain’s Paris hotel are exactly the same and stand exactly the same as in the hotel London. And the shampoo is the same, and the towels and bacon to the eggs are the same fat and harmful.
There are, however, curiosities. In Cyprus, there is a hotel Four Seasons. And it has nothing to do with the Four Seasons chain. It appeared when no copyright on the territory of Cyprus network name was not protected. And in New Zealand Queenstown there are Four Seasons Motel. Is it worth saying that he is not quite the Four Seasons?
With hotels that are members of one or another association (there are quite a few), another story. Typically, these hotels are owned by families and are not managed by networks, they are not similar to each other, and the association only ensures that the hotel meets its requirements, as well as advertising and sales. And spy checks: each associated hotel is often and imperceptibly tested for compliance with the requirements of hundreds, from the most obvious to quite idiotic.
Criterion four. Price
There is nothing to explain: you have a budget, and the sites of booking services – special filters that allow you to cut off too expensive or suspiciously cheap options at the stage of preliminary selection.
However, you should not be afraid to climb the sites of expensive hotels. It happens that the hotel, remaining half-empty, begins to sell itself with the enthusiasm of an elderly lady from St. Denis. In addition, often on hotel sites you can find special offers like “book a night – get a week in addition”.
There are other options to bring down the price: call the hotel and negotiate directly or go to a site like expedia.com and book a hotel complete with flight. In the latter case, you can also save money. Both on tickets and at the hotel.
The fifth criterion. Title
Indeed, a different name for the hotel may be disgusting or suspicious (something like Shaved Cactus or Dirty Beach), while another name (Palace, Grand Hotel, Majestic, Carlton) may make you want to, even despite the content. There can’t be any clear recommendations, some people, as we know, like watermelon, and some like pork cartilage. The only thing to remember is that the Palace does not always turn out to be a palace, and the Majestic is majestic. There are no rules for using loud, even patented names – Ritz can be found not only in Paris and London, but also in some Egyptian town.
If you want to live in a hundred storey tower – please, Atlantis for three thousand rooms, prefer small boutique hotels – you can also. The optimal size of the hotel is 100 rooms. Too small hotels often do not have the ability to keep class: the boutique will not pay the concierge around the clock, and no one will bring steak to the room at night – there is no chef in the kitchen or waiter to deliver plates from there. And too big hotel, as a rule, can’t pay attention to every guest, and the queue for eggs during breakfast is not the most cheerful sight. The hotel with a hundred or 150 rooms is large enough to be able to maintain the necessary staff at the expense of the flow of guests, and not huge enough to irritate the size and associated fuss.
Again, there are exceptions: safari loggia and camps, hotels on farms, castles, hunting loans simply can not and should not be large. But they, as a rule, are not chosen on “hotel dating” sites.
Seventh. Bed size
For many, this point is decisive. And not even because these many people enter the hotels with one and quite a certain erotic fantasy, but also because the hotel room people mostly sleep. And what they sleep on is important.
With these beds, however, a total mess. It is almost impossible to understand what is meant by king size. In part of the U.S. by “royal” is understood a mattress almost square: 193 cm wide and 203 in length, and in California – by 10 cm already, but 10 cm longer, 183 x 213 cm. In Britain, the kings are not so relaxed – there king size 1.5 m wide and two long, in Scandinavia – 180 x 200 cm.
With queen size is even more difficult: the usual American “queen” 152 cm wide and 203 cm long, California 10 cm long, and “Olympic” – 168 cm at the waist and 203 cm high. In Britain, the “queen” of mattresses is larger than the “king” – it is 180 cm wide and 200 cm long, which is quite justified – yet God Save the Queen, not some non-existent king. In Scandinavia, the queen’s bed size corresponds to the British king bed, i.e. in England and Norway with Sweden there are absolutely opposite opinions about the significance and size of kings and queens. Which should have been expected. But it does not make us feel any better. What is there to advise?
If you really care about the size of the bed, call the hotel and ask the porter to get a roulette.
Criterion eight. Age of the hotel
Some people like hotels with history – the palaces full of antiques with their inherent inconveniences, and some, on the contrary, prefer the inconveniences of the ultra-modern. In the first case, you are afraid for Chinese vases, in the second case, you can’t find the right switch among dozens of buttons. I personally like the facilities historical, with character, with legends. Even if legends replace amenities. During one of my travels in India, I specifically searched for hotels, which are located in old palaces, forts, fortresses. Yes, there used to be, say, not quite clean, but at the sight of a five-dollar bill, the staff came out of the crevices, and the rest slowly but surely turned into a space suitable for living. And for five more on the roof of the palace there was a table covered with samobranka, candles were lit, sitars started to play, and pink petals fell from the sky.
Criterion nine. Design
It is important, of course, and how the hotel looks. What it represents in terms of design. Almost always sites of networks, associations or booking systems offer to enjoy the photos. And in this sense, these sites are no different from dating sites: photos may be, to say the least, not representative.
In hotels it is worse to limit the pictures with the facade and the buffet line at breakfast. Network hotels often publish some abstractions: fragments of tapestry in the hall, a beautifully thrown on the bed robe, a piece of cheese, a portrait of a smiling concierge.
First of all, one should look at room decorations: whether a professional decorator participated in room decoration, whether the owners spend money on fresh flowers, whether the bed is large enough. Particular attention is paid to the bathrooms.
Again, everyone has different tastes. Some are nicer than minimalism, others like maximum saturation with objects, draperies and decorative details. Serve gold toilets to others, and cleanliness and functionalism of the operating room to others. If you train your eye, even from a not generous set of two or three photos, you can get enough information to get to a hotel in advance or to dislike it. Train up!
An experienced traveler, of course, can reach everything by himself – and book a ticket, and a table in a restaurant, to find the nearest dry cleaner, and pharmacy – but, you should agree, sometimes there is a rather pleasant situation, where all this – and the street, and the lantern, and pharmacy – is done by someone more professional.
In addition, the concierge can be useful in those situations, when your experience and connections are not enough to get an invitation to the evening screening at Cannes Festival, to hold a queue at a restaurant painted a year in advance, to organize (or not to organize) a nice surprise, to keep the plane on the runway. So it is better to have a concierge. Let it be.
Twelve. Additional services
Often, the hotel, a room in which costs more expensive, is more profitable. For example, the price of my room at the Fairmont Hotel in Barbados included “escort upon arrival from the plane gangway to the exit from the airport”, in other words, fast track. And this very escort saved me a lot of time and nerves: I crossed the border in three minutes, customs – in another one and a half minutes. And I am the one who does not say anything about the smile of the girl who met me!
What other additional services are available? It is clear, breakfast. It is better that it is included in the price. Often, in addition to breakfast, the hotel also offers a guest house. Or half board, that is lunch or dinner of your choice.
Then there are transfers. It is quite convenient when a hotel limousine meets you at the airport, and when the limousine (even if it turns out to be just a serviceable minibus) does not take money – luxury in general. Sometimes the room price is diluted with five-hour tea, less often – with a cocktail before dinner, and sometimes – with a free ticket to the museum. In general, watch out.
Room thirteen. Wi-Fi
More recently, free Wi-Fi could be classified as a category of additional services, but today the presence of the Internet, for which there is no need to pay, is a necessary condition. I never understood why in hotels, where rooms cost many hundreds of euros, you have to pay extra for the Internet, and a lot! It is much easier to include everything in the price in advance. It’s like breakfast. Or do not take money for it at all, as for air.
The number is fourteen. Spa, gym, pool
It is desirable that the hotel has all these three things. There is even no need to explain anything. You can do without a hairdressing salon, without a hall with dumbbells and a treadmill – no way. The time is like this.
The last point. Reviews
There are special sites (the main one is tripadvisor.com), where you can pour bile and talk about cockroaches in the bathrooms, stains on the sheets and nasty porter. It is not always worth believing in such reviews – how many people, how many opinions. Someone cheated himself and was repulsed, someone checked into the hotel on the one day when the cockroaches, fleeing from the bullying in the neighboring restaurant, ran away to the bathroom 223, someone in principle only sees the bad. You can only trust yourself. Or friends who have been tested in joint travels (do not confuse with “friends” on facebook). Well, then write on tripadvisor.com.
Yes, and more
Pay attention to the way the hotel website is made. If the interface is old-fashioned, the same will be the hotel, if the hotel page is overloaded with music, screensavers, pictures, videos – exactly the same thing is waiting for you on arrival, if the site can not be found anything, even addresses – do not rely on excellent service. Of course, the rule is not universal. One great director of one great hotel was sure to the last that he did not need any site. Recently, he gave up. There is, of course, no universal set of selection rules. And sometimes there is nothing to choose from – you argue at the last moment, and the city either has no rooms left or you can’t afford these rooms, but when you have at least one offer, use our algorithm – and you will be happy.
If the sites offer everything in a row, the “club” carry out a preliminary selection of hotels and negotiate with them on special conditions like a corporate fare even for individual travel, bottles of wine for each guest, free transfer, Wi-Fi, breakfast, upgrade rooms if there are free rooms.
Tablethotels.com provides members with advance access to sales, an additional 5% discount and personalized service: the booking confirmation shows the name of the person to whom you can contact the hotel (membership $195).
Urbandaddy.com, operating in six major cities in the U.S., focuses primarily on men: offers discounts on watches and bags, visits to new restaurants, hotels and tours around the world ($0 membership).
Jetsetter.com is known for flash sales, which last 5-7 days and discounts up to 50% (membership $0).
Clubhotel.com works with four- and five-star hotels and restaurants, provides discounts of up to 65% on hotels and up to 50% on restaurants (membership $150 per year).