Knowing what to look for when you’re booking a hotel can make your whole holiday experience a lot easier, cheaper, and more enjoyable.
I’ve put together a list of things to consider when you’re choosing your holiday hotel. Of course, everybody has different needs when it comes to accommodation, but this list should take care of most things.
1. Work out what you want. Don’t pay for a spa and room service if you just want somewhere to rest your head. Don’t pay for 4-star if 2-star facilities will do the job.
2. Steer clear of half- or full board – it’s rarely cost effective. Self-catering and All Inclusive holidays are a much better option. Going All Inclusive means all your food, drinks and snacks are included, and self catering lets you cook your own food to your own taste, cutting down the cost of eating out.
3. Consider chain hotels. Great for family holidays, chain hotel rooms are often the same price irrespective of size, and the high staff count usually means they’re kept immaculately clean and service is good.
4. Alternatively, if chain hotels and big resorts aren’t you thing, look for small, family run hotels and B&Bs. As well as often offering a friendlier, more intimate atmosphere, their taxes are usually lower, so you’ll pay less for your room. In my experience family run hotels genuinely care about their reputation, so they’re less likely to take you for a ride.
5. Check out the local attractions and restaurants. If the hotel you’re interested in is out of walking distance, you’ll have to arrange taxis, public transport, or hire a car. Which brings me nicely to my next point…
6. Consider staying outside of resort and town centres – central hotels tend to be much more expensive, and even if staying a little further out means you’re further from the attractions, you can use the money you save to hire a car (see?), allowing you to get out and about more easily and see more in the long run!
7. Ask around for recommendations – you can’t beat word of mouth. Our Facebook fan page is a good place to ask for opinions – if you ask us nicely, we’ll ask all 37,000 of our fans if they can recommend a hotel for you wherever you’re heading. Social media sites, review sites and forums are great places to gauge opinion – good or bad – although be aware that people only tend to post reviews on sites when they’ve had a bad experience. Humans are quicker to moan than to praise – it’s in our nature!
Once you’ve found a hotel that might fit the bill…
8. Are smoking and non-smoking rooms available? Whether you’re a smoker or not, make sure you end up in a room that suits you either way. These days, some hotels don’t offer any smoking rooms; the ones that still do sometimes designate one or two floors to smoking.
9. Check if there’s a gym and swimming pool. It might not be the most important factor for most people when it comes to holidays, but if you’re strict with your fitness routine (and I am!) or are travelling with kids, a swimming pool or gym can make a big difference to the quality of your holiday.
10. Book early and pay a deposit! Some holiday companies (including On the Beach) offer flexible payment schemes, allowing you to pay a deposit on your holiday months before the full amount is due. These schemes are brilliant for budgeting – just make sure you read the small print and are aware of when your full balance needs to be paid.
11. Make sure the kids are occupied. Travelling with children can (or so I’m told) be stressful. Like the swimming pool I mentioned earlier, knowing there are things to keep every member of the family occupied should you be at a loose end makes a world of difference. Animation teams, playgrounds, games arcades and water parks can turn an unexpected rainy day into heaps of fun.
12. Is there access for the disabled? Obviously, this only applies to those with special needs and their fellow travellers, but some hotels, incomprehensibly, still do not have disabled facilities. If you have a disability, don’t let it ruin your holiday by not making the necessary arrangements beforehand.
13. Make sure you know the hotel’s WiFi situation. If you always travel with a laptop, you’ll know how important this one can be! Some hotels don’t offer any internet access, which is great if you’ve planned a secluded break and want to sever all ties to your daily life. Not so great if you need information on what to do in the area and the kids are driving you bonkers. In many hotels, the wireless connection is only available in the lobby and other public areas. Others offer free or chargeable access in the rooms. If you like surfing the web, this is an important one to check out.
14. Do you need an ironing board, and is there one in the rom. Again, perhaps not high on the list of priorities for most people, but you don’t want to look like a scruff in all your holiday snaps. If you can’t find out whether there’s an ironing board, check if the hotel offers a dry cleaning service.