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What do I Need to Know Before Booking a Hotel Room?

When booking a hotel room for the first time, many people look for amenities that will make them feel at home. While this is a smart idea, some people don’t realize that when they are traveling, they often have a completely different set of priorities than in their everyday lives. Each vacation requires a different type of hotel room — the accommodation that might be perfect for a beach vacation might be completely wrong for a 3-day tour of Rome. Savvy travelers can save tons of money by asking themselves the following questions when booking a hotel room.

Are the reviews accurate?

Most hotels will have at least some reviews, and checking them out is a great first step to see if what they represent on their website or profile is accurate. Some hotel booking websites even have a small user profile beside each review, so that people reading it can see who the reviewer is and where they’re from. These things are important to take into account. Many great hotels have terrible reviews from people who came in expecting certain amenities that were simply unrealistic. Read between the lines, and look for factual, unemotional reviews.

What other amenities are on site?

Before booking a hotel, make a list of what you require in a hotel room. For some young travelers, not having a bathroom, hairdryer, or ironing board in the room is totally fine. Other people are OK with sleeping in a room without central heating or cooling. Make sure that your chosen hotel room has exactly what you need by checking out each individual room’s profile, and booking that one specifically.

What is the cancellation policy?

There are times when unfortunate circumstances arise, and you may have to cancel your room booking. Make sure to check out the hotel’s cancellation policy, so you’re aware of the monetary consequences of cancelling a room. Many hotels offer free cancellation with 24 hours’ notice, or will only charge 50% of the booking fee. Others require 48 hours, or even up to a week of notice. If you’re doing a trip with many different stops, it can be helpful to book hotels that have a generous cancellation policy so you can extend your stay in one place without worrying about hurrying to your next stop.

Should I book my hotel room with a credit card?

Booking your hotel room with a credit card is a great way to ensure that you have a record of your booking. If for some reason you lose your luggage, usually the hotel can pull up your booking with just your name and credit card details. Make sure that you know how much will be charged to your credit card before you check in, or if the entire payment will only be charged after you check out. If you have a travel rewards card, putting your hotel room on your card often counts as a travel-related expense, and can be eligible for bonus points.

What if a deal looks too good to be true?

If a deal on a hotel room looks too good to be true, it often is. Many booking websites charge fees that are only visible after you put in your information and are about to check out. Be sure to check out the hotel in detail to make sure it’s a legitimate business. Often the easiest way to do this is to look up the address on Google Maps, and see if the outside facade of the hotel matches the photos on the website. Often hotels will list rooms on budget booking websites to try and fill the rooms up, but don’t get caught buying a room that doesn’t actually exist!

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