Hotel 101: Selecting The Best Place To Stay

Your hotel can absolutely make or break the whole vacation.

Whether you are just needing a place to get a few hours sleep, or moving in for an extended stay- it’s important to choose wisely!

Here are 10 questions I ask myself when booking a hotel. The answers help me determine where I want to stay:

  1. 1. Am I just looking for a place to sleep? Often on a very long road trip, we drive at night with our kids. Around midnight we will pull off the road and sleep until 8AM, and then get right back on the road. If this is the case, we look for the least expensive place (within our standards…) in the area. For example, a Fairfield Inn.
  2. 2. Does location matter? Sometimes having a conveniently located place trumps almost all other factors. I find this particularly true in big cities. If we are planning on doing a lot of walking or if there is any special circumstance where the location of the hotel is important then that is my priority. For example, in the picture below we are watching a parade from our room in Chicago, rather than being outside in 16 degree temperatures! Location was EVERYTHING!
  • 3. Is there a pool that is seasonally appropriate? Even if we aren’t planning to spend a lot of time at the hotel, we love giving our kids the opportunity to swim in a pool. Especially in the winter, they find swimming indoors a real treat! Not to mention, it burns off a lot of energy after they have been in the car or on a flight!                                                                                         
  • 4. Is it the destination? Sometimes the vacation actually is the hotel. We have gone on several trips where all we’ve done is stayed at the hotel or resort. One of our favorite types of hotels are the ones with the indoor water parks like Great Wolf Lodge. These hotels tend to have all you need to spend several days of vacation without ever having to move your car! 
  1. 5. Do they offer anything extra or charge anything extra? Many hotels offer a free breakfast or even a dinner. If you are planning to stay for several nights- the free breakfast savings can really add up. Likewise, some hotels charge activity or parking fees. Most come with free internet. Make sure you compare the “extras” when booking!
  2. 6. Do we need to “do life”? When we travel we do not always stay on the go 24/7. Whether we are traveling for events or business, or even just a relaxing get-away- sometimes we just do life where we stay. That means naps, bedtimes, and downtime. When we find ourselves doing this kind of travel we prefer to maximize our space. Staying at a Residence Inn or something similar gives us a little more space to spread out and get comfortable.
  • 7. Do we need a kitchen? Food budgets can get out of control when traveling. If you aren’t careful a few days of eating out can add up significantly. Sometimes we prefer to save our money for experiences on the trip, and we like to cook simple, healthy meals in our room. Staying somewhere like the Residence Inn will give you a small private kitchen right in your room.
  • 8. Are we traveling with a pet? It’s not often we travel with our dog, Maddie. She’s old and we honestly find it more of a hassle than a benefit. However, there have been times when she’s been along for the ride and we’ve had to take her into consideration when picking a hotel. Here is a guide where you can find pet friendly hotels by state.
  • 9. Do we need bells and whistles? Sometimes it’s nice to splurge on a really cool hotel. Our kids absolutely LOVE the special amenities we’ve found at some hotels and it makes the whole trip worth it. We have come home from trips in the past where their favorite part was hanging out at the hotel. Do some research and find a special hotel to spend at least 1 night of your trip. Often you can use the amenities even before your room is ready.
  • 10. Are there any Specials/Deals/Groupon available for nice hotels in the area? So many times we’ve been able to take advantage of a great deal simply because we looked ahead of time. When you are planning your travel, do your research ahead of time and find the best value. Ask yourself, is it worth paying an extra $30-40 to stay at the Ritz or the JW? (I say, absolutely. See point #9- often the nicer the hotel, the more bells and whistles!) 

How do you select a hotel?

You may also enjoy reading:

Hotel Hacks For Kids Who Don’t Sleep Easily With Others

How To Survive Hotels With Kids

How To Baby Proof Your Hotel Room

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