November 25, 2014

Selecting the "Perfect" Hotel

As a thrifty traveler, my requirements for hotels can be condensed to just three things: clean rooms, accommodating staff, and a safe location.  We cram so much into our itineraries that our hotel rooms are little more than a place to rest and recover before another packed day of sightseeing.  And until we can afford to stay at such specialty lodgings like the Hotel de Glace in Quebec City or the over-water hut hotels such as the Four Seasons in Bora Bora (in which case, the accommodations are an attraction in and of themselves!), we are more than happy to stay in budget to mid-level hotels to save a little money.

Sad about leaving London... and the Club Quarters Hotel
After we've settled upon a destination but are still in the early stages of brainstorming a trip, I begin perusing sites like Trip Advisor and to compile a list of hotel choices.  I skim the reviews for the good, the bad, and the ugly of hotels within our price range, keeping in mind that some negative reviews are written by people who simply cannot be pleased and are looking for the slightest provocation to write a bad review.

With TripAdvisor on one screen and Google Maps on another, I begin ranking hotel potentials.  While all of them must meet my three basic requirements, I also prioritize hotels based on amenities such as free breakfast, free WiFi, proximity to attractions, price, and the enthusiasm with which reviewers recommend the establishment.  And unless I'm looking for lodging in the U.S., I almost always avoid chain establishments.  I just can't bring myself to travel halfway across the world just to stay at a chain hotel like a Best Western!  (No offense, B-dubs.)

The Riverside Mamaison Hotel in Prague
With this method, even if my top choice hotel is booked, I have at least a few more options available up my sleeves thanks to my list compilation.  Generally, I try to reserve and book directly through the hotel.  While third-party sites such as or Orbitz may purport to offer the best prices, I've found that hotels actually tend to be cheaper when booked directly and save the establishment from ponying up some of their profits to the third-party website.

So what does an example of my list look like?  Here's the short-hand list I made when deciding where to stay in Rome:

Relais Forus Inn                                
Near Termini; affordable price; mostly good reviews                                    

Rave Reviews; over budget          

Cesare Balbo Inn                              
Hostel; good location                      

Hotel Andreotti
Near Termini; good reviews; pretty rooms

Ultimately we decided upon Hotel Andreotti and were very glad we did (see my review here).  But there were many hotels that could've potentially been a "perfect" hotel for us, and it's important to note that what worked really well for us may not necessarily fit your traveling style or needs.  If you're looking to keep a reasonable budget without sacrificing amenities or location, sticking to mid-level hotels (like we do) and using our listing process may help you find your own "perfect" hotel (inn, guest house, or hostel!) for your travels!

Mamaison Hotel

How do you choose the "perfect" hotel for your travels?


Linking up with Bonnie Rose & other travel bloggers for #TravelTuesday!


  1. Gah - I'm going through this process right now, trying to book something for Christmas in the UK; visiting bro-in-law wants something fancy and my husband and I are along your lines with safe-clean-cheap. Good tips!

    1. It's always difficult when you're traveling someone with different ideas or budget for travel. We found London to be pretty expensive in general and were lucky that my husband's company was putting him up due to it being a business trip. I hope you're able to come to some sort of compromise with your BIL - or maybe stay at two different hotels!

  2. I follow the exact same process when trying to find accommodation in advance. It's not always necessary and sometimes I might miss out on a cute and quirky independent place that doesn't have an online presence, but the peace of mind is often worth it. Unless it is a total indulgence type of trip (which honestly has only happened for our honeymoon and a destination wedding in the Caribbean), as long as the room is clean, safe, and close to amenities I'm good to go. And free wifi never hurts ;)

  3. Thanks for sharing this! It's always great to hear how other people try to find a hotel. Since my husband and I travel for work, luckily we have normally have hotel points to use for personal vacation :)

    Hsiao-Ting (


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