Before you try to find a perfect place to stay, you should think about what is important to you while traveling. Even if you find a hostel or hotel ranked 10/10 and all the reviews say it is the best place on earth, it still does not mean it is the best choice for you. We are all different, and we all have different priorities. Some people choose a budget option over an overpriced one, some choose the luxury and comfort are more important for them than the price. Some travelers enjoy a hostel where you can meet hundreds of backpackers and party together every night; some just like to relax in a quiet environment after a busy day sightseeing.
Before you start searching for a place to stay, you should ask yourself these questions:
Do you want to stay somewhere cheap or free?
Do you want a luxury resort?
Do you want to share a room or rent an entire apartment or house?
Do you want to stay somewhere quiet with a relaxing atmosphere?
Do you want to meet people?
Do you want all the amenities and safety of a more expensive hotel?
Location is important.
Never underestimate the importance of the location. You are probably traveling because you want to see the country or city, not because you want to stay in a nice hotel. Usually, you only spend your time in the chosen accommodation in the evening anyway, as most of the day you are around, exploring the place. This is even more important in a place where the public transport is bad or nonexistent. That way you will spend much more time and money to go anywhere. Also, keep in mind the farther you are away from a metro or bus stop the farther you will have to carry your luggage luggage around. This does not apply if you are planning to rent a car, though. My advice is to look at the map and find the locations of the places you are interested in seeing, then compare these locations to the locations of the accommodations you are considering booking. This does not apply if you are staying in a bigger city with good public transportation services. In this case, you should look which buses/metros/trams are the ones that drive most often and try to find accommodation close to their stops.
Check their policies.
Don’t forget to read the policies of the accommodations you are interested in. Check your travel schedule and make sure you will be arriving there while the reception is open, or notify them about the time of your arrival. Take time to read the cancellation policy; you never know what might happen before you arrive there. Are you traveling with pets? Make sure the accommodations accept your type of pet.
Check what amenities they are offering.
For you to feel good while staying in the chosen accommodation, there are many factors to consider. Make sure you take time to read what kinds of amenities different accommodations offer. If there is a free breakfast included, you will save time and money in the morning. If there is free parking provided, you can save considerable amounts of money if you are renting a car. However, sometimes hotels will advertise that they have parking, but it is actually a third-party garage that isn’t located on site. And be careful; sometimes the hotels don’t list the price next to the service; this does not necessarily mean it is free. Make sure you check! Though air conditioning is usually a given in the U.S. (though there are exceptions), this is not often the case in other countries. If it is not listed in the room descriptions, it is generally not provided or is only provided in certain rooms. Before booking a room, take some time to look closely at what is provided and what is not; that way, you won’t be disappointed upon your arrival.
Was the hotel recently renovated or newly built?
See if you can find out if the hotel has been renovated or is newly built. This can often give you an idea of how clean it might be. If the accommodation was recently renovated, read the reviews carefully, as some might apply to the bad shape of the hotel before the renovation.
Check the reviews!
No matter how nice the photos of the accommodations are and how good the description is, it does not tell you much about the place if you don’t read the reviews. There are many good web pages today where you can read what other travelers thought about the place (TripAdvisor, Booking,HostelWorld, etc.). Make sure they are recent reviews too, as some hotels actually read the reviews and try to repair their mistakes from the past. While reading the reviews, it is always worth reading the worst ones. That way, you can see what things made travelers angry while staying at a particular place. However, be careful while reading those, as it is normal that some percentage of the people who were in a bad mood while traveling were really unlucky or just spoiled.
It is a good idea also to check the bed bug registry to see if there were spotting of bedbugs in your accommodation before you book.
See if you can find out what kind of people live there.
While reading the reviews, usually you can see the profile of the traveler who wrote the review. You can usually see the age, country, and how they traveled there (as a couple, family, single, etc.). This is important because you want to stay in a place that fits your style of traveling the most. If you don’t like parties, avoid the hostels that are famous for their parties, as it might be hard for you to fall asleep in the evenings. On the other hand, if you are traveling alone and want to make friends, this kind of hostel might be a good idea for you.
Check for accessibility.
It is important to check for accessibility of the chosen accommodations. Do they provide a transport service? Sometimes hotels offer a free pick-up from the airports or ports; however, sometimes they provide the pick-up but at a much higher price than, for example, a taxi’s would be. Have this in mind before booking a pickup service they provide. It is also important how hard it will be to get there with the public transportation. Make sure you know how you will reach the place, especially if you arrive at night.
Will you be getting good value for the price?
If you are a budget traveler, it is usually not worth sleeping in the cheapest accommodation in town, as most of the times for a little bit higher price you can get a much better experience. Consider this while choosing a place. More importantly, the cheapest accommodation options are usually located further away from the sites that you want to visit. That means you will spend more on your transportation. After calculating all your expenses, is it really worth booking the cheapest accommodation? On the other hand, if you decide to stay in a little more expensive place, make sure the services they provide are good enough for the value of the money you will be paying them. Consider that you will probably stay there only a few hours per day. Is this really worth the money you will be spending?
Choosing a hotel based on what kind of membership perks you may get. Sometimes it is worth considering the special offers that you can get if you are a member of some club. This kind of club earns big money because people mostly forget to check if there are any good accommodation deals before they go on vacation. You might be able to stay in a much nicer hotel for the same price that you are willing to pay. If you are a frequent traveler, it is a good idea to have a membership in some of the clubs (SPG, Hilton Honors, etc.).