Whenever I travel, these are the things that I consider when I book for a hotel--both on official/work-related and personal travels, and I am just glad to share them with you.
Value for money. Price discounts, corporate rates and corporate billing, off-season rates and family room packages are just some of the considerations when I travel. If you are on an official business, take into account the price ceiling set by your company policies so you do not have to worry about overspending for a hotel and burden yourself later for justification with the finance department.
In my previous work, our company has set a corporate account in several hotels in Davao and I did not have to worry about making cash advances that add up to my responsibilities and not worry about being robbed.
If you are on a personal or family vacation, you need to decide whether you want to splurge a bit or save your money instead for adventure trips or for shopping. My boys are not yet used to staying in backpackers' inns or hotels thus, it is a must they we get a comfortable family room that has ample space and where the boys can enjoy some hotel amenities. But when they are older and are more attuned to backpacking style of lodging, then we can choose cheaper rooms. Bottomline--always make it a point to compare prices and find cheap hotels within your area of destination.
Location. While others go for remote lodging because it is cheaper and where the view is better, I always consider location. We had a mistake in choosing a nature pension house outside Bacolod City. Sure the hotel was nice where nature surrounds you but meeting friends and dining out became a problem. Unless you have rented a car or can enjoy a 24-hour taxi services or public transportation, it should not be a problem. One hotel in Davao is conveniently located the heart of the city, but there are few restaurants within its premises. Hotel food is expensive and living within the means of my per diem is a major consideration. Imagine taking a cab or walking 3 blocks just to dine out. Plus, when you are on official business, walking in late to your business meeting is not cool. So choose the one nearer to your official business functions.
Security. Security here means both inside and out of the hotel. I am sure you would not want to stay in a hotel where you will fear of being mugged or held up as soon as you step out of the hotel premises. So wisely choose those hotels that can provide you the security you need. Also, choose hotels where there are adequate emergency features like working fire alarms, exit doors and stairs.
This reminds me of a time I was booked in this nice small hotel in Catarman and I was billeted in one of the cabanas/apartment-type building. It was, I think, a guest house of the family who owns the place but was converted into hotel rooms instead. Yes it was nice and clean, and had a perfect location.
My room was located in the second floor atop a family room and kitchen. One night, I went down to buy some stuff outside of the hotel, I was intrigued by a sweet aroma like someone is baking pies and cookies. To my surprise, the hotel restaurant staff are, indeed, baking in the kitchen right under my room! When I got back, I immediately looked for exit point on the windows, and to my disappointment, the windows have fixed iron grills! Good thing nothing untoward happened during my 7-day stay in that hotel. Had a fire struck the kitchen under my room, I would have been a baked goodie now.
Internet access. I am sure no one will argue with me on this one. We always want to connect--whether for business and personal social networking--there has to be a free WiFi services. If there is none, better bring with you your mobile broadband internet connection. Determine which mobile telephone company provides the better broadband signal.
Customer service. Nothing beats excellent customer. Imagine a hotel when you ask the housekeeping for a missing TV remote or a clogged toilet and it takes them eons to arrive. Go figure. I appreciate hotels--big or small--with good 24-hour customer service that is fast and reliable.
Clean toilet and bath. Aside from pricing, I always go back to the hotels where the toilets are clean and free of bad odor. A plus factor too if they have a complete set of toiletries like soap or body wash, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste. I remember one small hotel in Bohol and Catarman where you have all these. There is nothing fancy about the toiletries--just like the ordinary ones you can buy from the stores--but the fact that they are available and finding them in a small hotel is heavenly! You would not have to worry when you are in a hurry for a meeting and realize you have forgotten your travelling toothbrush.
Overall cleanliness. From the lobby to the corridors and rooms, nothing beats a pest-free room, polished floors, stain-free carpets, painted walls, and no musty odors. It sure will give you the much needed relaxation after work and pleasure.
Room with a view. Rooms with a view always have a premium price. If you are willing to pay the price, go for it. Otherwise, just live by the room across where you only have walls in it.
Have some alternative on your list. When you frequent a certain destination, have a list of at least 3 hotels where you can possibly book. Be on the look out for big events and festivals during your traveling period as there is always a possibility that your preferred hotel is already fully booked. Have a good alternative choice of hotel, instead. And to make sure that your have at least a bed to sleep on the first night of your stay, consider the next tip.
Book in advance. Booking hotels as soon as you arrive does not always work on your favor. One of my work colleague was surprised to learn that I book days ahead of my travel. I told her I always ensure that I have have a bed to sleep on for at least one night. It would be too much hassle when you are in a hurry for an official meeting after your arrival and you have not washed up and worry the whole day that you do not yet have a room to sleep on when you arrive from work. If you have kids with you, multiply this inconvenience by 10.
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