6 Tips to Book the Best Hotel for You

Posted May 22, 2018 7:09 p.m. EDT

Travelers today are spoiled for choice when it comes to booking a hotel, said Jeffrey Sirota, senior director of leisure operations for Protravel International.

“Hotels are increasingly opening all over the world at such a fast clip that the choices can be overwhelming,” he said.

But how do you wade through the options and find the best one for you?

— Define the Purpose of Your Trip

Travelers looking for a relaxing vacation where they may not want to leave the hotel too often should consider a resort-style property with amenities such as a nice spa and pool.

“It should be a place where you would be happy to spend your time,” Sirota said.

A sightseeing-focused trip, on the other hand, likely means that you’ll be spending little time at your hotel, and it’ll really just be a place to sleep and recharge in the evenings. In this case, it’s better to find a centrally located property near major attractions, and you don’t need to spend extra for supreme luxury or on-site amenities.

— Consider Your Location

Do you want to stay in a well-established, touristy area or do you prefer a more up-and-coming or residential neighborhood with a local flavor? In Los Angeles, for example, Beverly Hills is an old-school standout location for visitors eager to go shopping and celebrity-spotting, while areas such as Downtown and Koreatown attract fewer tourists but are vibrant with lots of restaurants and locally owned stores. “If you’ve been to a destination before, it’s always worthwhile to pick a hotel that’s in a part of town that you don’t already know,” Sirota said. “You’ll get a new perspective.”

— Choose a Hotel that Matches your Priorities (and Budget)

Consider what your budget is and what you want out of it. For $400 a night, for example, you could get a small room at a five-star hotel in some cities, but at a four-star hotel, you may be able to snag a junior suite for that price, breakfast included. However, the property may not have those five-star amenities, such as an upscale restaurant or large fitness center. For some travelers, those things are worth the money, but for others, the extra night or two or free breakfasts are worth much more. Define your priorities and choose a property accordingly.

Also, a hotel’s size should be a consideration. A stay at a small property like a boutique hotel with a handful of rooms or a bed-and-breakfast is drastically different from a stay at one with hundreds or even thousands of rooms. The latter will likely have lots of options for entertainment and dining, and other amenities, while the former will have a personalized feel with individual attention, but may not come with those large-property perks, if you enjoy them.

And when it comes to getting the best price, remember that hotel rates are constantly in flux.

“You may be able to find the lowest prices if you’re willing to wait until closer to your trip and taking a chance that your preferred property might not be available,” Sirota said.

Do your homework and track prices over time using sites like Trivago, Hipmunk and TripAdvisor. You can always call and ask the hotel when the ideal time to book is if your trip is flexible. We’ve offered some tips before to help you snag last-minute hotel deals if you want a quick getaway, and more detailed tips to get the best hotel room for your money here.

— Get those Loyalty Points

If you’re a frequent traveler and prefer to stay with a particular hotel brand or chain to earn points toward its loyalty program, it usually makes sense to choose a property that is part of that brand’s portfolio, if their hotels are an option where you’re traveling. However, your priorities come first.

— Ask Yourself: What’s Your Style?

Many travelers don’t immediately think about it, but your style should be a factor when choosing where to stay. Some travelers like properties with a hip scene and modern room decor, some prefer traditional hotels with white glove service, and others want accommodations with a local feel that encourages them to get out and explore.

“Adventurous travelers tend to like independent properties, but those who want predictability are best off sticking to brands that they already know,” Sirota said.

— Consider Sustainability

Sirota said that many of his clients prefer to stay at properties that are eco-friendly or give back to their communities.

“It’s a very relevant criteria today,” he said.

Sustainably run hotels are available at all price points, so whether you’re on a budget or have money to spare, there is one for you, and likely one wherever you plan to travel. Information about a hotel’s sustainability practices is generally available on its website.