Finding the perfect place to stay can make or break a vacation. I have certain criteria for my hotel and the most important is location.
Determining what the perfect location is, takes some careful thought. Are you stopping at this hotel en route to somewhere else or is this your final destination? If I am en route I want the hotel within a mile of the highway and with a restaurant within walking distance. Once I have arrived at the hotel, I don't want to drive out again.
If, however, it is the final destination I want to have free parking as a must. This isn't always possible but at least try to get the charge as part of your rate. City parking can run over $40 a night which takes away money from your fun-things-to-do budget.
I like an indoor pool with a hot tub but that is me. Again, I want restaurants close by. I demand cleanliness and a staff that goes out of their way to please. It doesn't have to be a 5-star hotel to get this and it doesn't need to be a boutique hotel though I am a sucker for charm.
I start by getting a Google map on the screen of where I am staying and I locate the hotels. I then check availability on Booking.com and price. Once I have narrowed it down to a few hotels, I check Trip Advisor and see what people are saying. Read a lot of reviews, so many of them are fakes. I want someone who has written a lot of reviews not just one terrible or glowing review.
Now compare all the info, usually one or two will stand out. I am loyal to certain brands, so at this point, brand loyalty will trump. Read between the lines as well, even the hotel website can tell you a lot.
I will always book directly with the hotel on their website or on the phone. I like being in control of my own reservation. Don't be afraid to call and ask questions, you will know right away how helpful the staff is.
So really, this is how I book my hotels. I look for a deal, I want to get the best price but I want a lot for that price. I prefer charm but I can live without it. Free Internet access is a must, I don't compromise on this.