Nothing can put a damper on a trip faster than bad accommodations. Many travelers show up to a new location and end up wandering the streets carrying heavy backpacks searching for an empty bed. Others book in advance and wind up in a dingy, creepy hotel. In my experience, the key to a happy hotel situation is doing your research ahead of time. Whether you are looking for an apartment for your holiday in the UK, or hoping for a romantic bungalow for your honeymoon in Bali, knowing what you will find when you show up can mean the difference between spending your vacation relaxing or bemoaning your bad lodging.
Finding the Right Fit
The first thing you want to ask yourself is what kind of lodging you are looking for. A hostel will usually include only basic amenities, shared bathrooms, and limited privacy. A hotel will often be more expensive, but will include more private accommodations and extra perks. Apartment rentals are great options for groups traveling together and often allow you to save money by doing your own cooking. During my trip to Croatia, me and my friends were able to get an apartment in the heart o f Dubrovnik’s old town for less than the cost of a hostel. We had our own kitchen and bathroom plus a wonderful view of the city’s rooftops. Another great option is a home stay or guesthouse which will give you a more personal experience by staying with a local. Before you begin your search for lodging make sure know what you want so that it lines of with your expectations when you arrive.
Location Location Location
Before you commit to booking lodging, make sure you know the exact location of your room. Check it out on google maps and see what’s nearby. Are the sites you plan on visiting within walking distance? If not, how do you plan to get there. Are there food options or a grocery store nearby? Even if you save a lot of money staying at an out of the way location, you may end up spending more money on transportation. On the same trip to Croatia, we stayed in a wonderful and affordable hostel in Zagreb. The only problem? It was so far out of the city that it took us an hour on the tram to get to dinner. In the end, not worth the savings.
Get the Lay of the Land
Once you have located a potential accommodation option, make sure you understand what you are getting with your booking. Are linens included? Do they have safes for valuables? If you are going a trip for business, you might want to check to make sure they have WiFi. Don’t ever assume that a hotel will offer a particular service or amenity. Many overseas hotels operate differently than those in your home country.
Another thing to consider is how you will get to your hotel from the airport or train station. Its worth asking your hotel if they offer free pickup. You should also verify that there will be someone available to give you the keys during your planned arrival time. If your flight gets in at 2 am, you may arrive to find a locked lobby without any lights. During my trip to Peru, I arrived at 4 am off an overnight bus in Puno only to discover that my hostel was closed for the night.
Do you have any tips for finding the perfect lodging? What issues do you normally encounter?