Cleanliness, safety, and location are the first three things that spring to mind when I’m choosing a hotel. There are thousands upon thousands of hotels out there, and each has its own set of promises.

Reading a hotel description on a booking website isn’t enough these days. Reviews can be even be misleading sometimes. So, where do you go for help, and what do you look for when choosing a hotel?

Courtney C. from San Diego, a Trippy member wrote:

More than location – accessibility – to whatever, wherever it is you want to see the most. Determine what, where your purpose is for travelling in the first place and then make sure you’re staying somewhere from which you can get there.

Her answer is simple but has two important nuggets of travel wisdom:

  • Does your hotel have easy access to the things you want to see/do most?
  • What is your purpose of traveling to the destination?

The first step to choosing a hotel is asking yourself the two questions above. If you know your answers to these two questions, you’re already halfway through the process. The more you travel, the more you’ll develop your hotel preferences.

Apart from location mentioned by Courtney C., here are nine more aspects to consider, raised by Trippy members, that will help you choose the right hotel for your travel needs:

1. Cleanliness

Bill Caloia from Detroit said:

Cleanliness ought to be first… unless you are okay with crab lice, flea bites and other tiny vermin crawling over your sleeping body.

Renee Marrotte from Palm Desert and over 40 other Trippy members echoed the sentiment. Here’s what Renee wrote:

A clean and comfortable place to relax after your day. When traveling, your going to be out and about, exploring the views and what the area has to offer.

2. Price

Price is subjective. What makes one hotel room cost $500 a night and another $50? And how the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva Switzerland charge $83,200 a night for its Royal Penthouse Suite?

The price of a hotel room or an apartment is dependent upon many factors. But do room prices reflect the quality? My answer is no. Most importantly, the question to ask yourself is: What is my budget?

Trippy member, Nisah Cheatham from Chicago, opined that the price of a hotel is related to its location:

Location and price are related. Location is important, but would you rather be in the middle of the sites and then be just like every other tourist? Or would you rather stay someplace that is “tourist site accessible {without much hassle}” and enjoy being in a neighborhood.

In Singapore we stayed in the Wangz Hotel in the Tiong Bahru neighborhood. This neighborhood isn’t crawling with tourists and in fact it was great to end up at a lot of places where you could tell we were almost the only tourist. It was only 10 mins walk to mass transit.

In Madrid once (been there a few times) we stayed at Dormirdcine in north part of the Salamanca neighborhood. On previous visit I stayed at a place that was almost twice the cost near the Plaza Mayor and didn’t sleep as well.

This is what Trippy member, Quirine van Eps, wrote on price:

Well I would say it depends whatever the occasion. For example I walked the pilgrim route to Compostela and stayed in hostels, cheap and no view but great atmosphere. Where as in Dubai in the Burj al Arab, expensive but worth the expenses. Very special architecture.

3. Safety

Safety is on the top of my list. I would rather spend more for a safe hotel if I had to choose between paying for more on a hotel room or a couple more cocktails at the bar. Professional security personnel and elevators that require room keys are essentials in secure hotels, especially in large cities like New York City and Sao Paulo.

Katharine Grosson, a 70-year-old widow who loves to travel, but on a budget, noted that safety is her main priority.

4. Free breakfast

Have you ever heard the old adage “Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper”? It rings true that the first meal of the day will energize you for the rest of the day.

Breakfast included at the Kensington Hotel London

Breakfast included at the Kensington Hotel London

Complimentary breakfast at a hotel is always a plus for me. Maria Romero from Badajoz, Spain contributed this:

Third thing for me is breakfast: if it is not too pricey I prefer to have it at the hotel and then get ready to start my day!!

Trippy member, Egor Shvetsov, also listed breakfast as an important aspect to consider because “it saves a lot of time on finding a place with good food which you actually can eat.”

5. Free and fast Wi-Fi

Believe it or not, in this day and age there are still hotels charging for Wi-Fi usage. When it comes to Wi-Fi, the most frustrating thing is when a hotel’s so-called free WiFi doesn’t work. This has happened in several of my travel experiences, even in well-known hotel chains.

From my experiences overseas, hotels in South America are the most generous when it comes to free Wi-Fi. It isn’t always fast, though.

Free Wi-Fi is necessary for business and leisure travelers. According to a Forbes report, 49% of business travelers consider free W-Fi a deciding factor when it comes to their choice of hotel.

6. Parking

At the Boston Marriott Copley Place, valet parking is $54 per night and off-site parking is $38. At the Langham Boston, valet parking from Saturday through Thursday is $49 per night. You’ll be paying an average of $150 extra for parking during a three night stay in a Boston city center hotel. Besides price, the security of the parking lot is an important factor when considering a hotel.

If I were given a choice between a hotel near all the attractions I want to see, and a hotel with free parking, I would choose the former. Free parking would come in handy for travelers on a road trip and who are looking for an overnight stay before hitting the road again. Linda J. Riley from Fort Worth wrote:

Most of all I want a convenient hotel location, ease of navigation (I have mobility problems so I need either a ground floor room, or an available elevator), free parking, and a courteous front desk staff willing to answer my questions. In some locations, an in-hotel, or adjacent restaurant is nice, as is room service.

7. Facilities and amenities

Some people will only stay at hotels that have fitness centers and swimming pools. Others may look for hotels with  small fridges, microwaves or on-site restaurants and bars. It all depends on what your needs are when you travel. Families with young children may find it convenient to stay in hotels with kitchenette.

If you are staying in an apartment for more than a week, you may want a place with dishwasher and a decent coffee maker, like Trippy member Maria O’Dwyer from Dublin wrote.

Coffee maker at ME London

Coffee maker at ME London

I would add air-conditioning and heating to the list. I have stayed in places where the heating system was not working, like at a hotel in Uyuni Bolivia. The temperature outside was 4 C (39 F) and there was no hot water for the shower.

8. Close to public transportation

Lola G from Ireland:

Finally, how close it is to public transportation since I will not have a car. I want to be able to hop on a bus, metro, tram or taxi easily.

Proximity to public transportation is important if you are not on a guided tour where transportation and tours are included in your vacation package. Independent travelers who rely on public transportation will find it easier to be in places within walking distance to public transportation. Barrie Trinkle said:

If possible, I like to be walking distance from cafes, scenery, public transportation, etc.

9. Views and the extras

Crissy Maier shared this about getting a hotel with a view:

I went to Hawaii and had one night in a hotel before taking a cruise. It was totally worth the extra money for the ocean view balcony. If it was a week, that would have been different. If I’m staying somewhere for a longer trip or expect to be in my room more, than the view absolutely makes a difference.

But, if I staying somewhere and expect to be out of the room most of the time, than view isn’t nearly as important.

When I went to Puerto Rico, I stayed in two different hotels for two reasons:

  1. Hotel El Convento in Old San Juan to be close to all the tourist attractions and restaurants.
  2. Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in Condado for the oceanfront views.

I stayed at Condado Vanderbilt Hotel just for one night to enjoy the ocean. The hotel also offered amenities like dining at the historic 1919 Restaurant, swimming in the infinity pool, and having coffee at the poolside Ola Oceanfront Bistro. The hotel is also famous for its hammamm experience at the spa.

View from Condado Vanderbilt hotel room

View from the room at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel

When buying a home, they say “location, location, location”. Likewise, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a hotel, as mentioned in the beginning of this article is the location. A hotel located at a busy crossroad and without soundproof windows would make a disastrous stay if you are looking for a quiet place to sleep.

Have a question about a hotel you are considering?

As a Trippy member, you can ask questions about a hotel location or get recommended places to stay. For example, Liv Strauss from Cape Cod asked:

Wondering which beach is better to stay at in San Diego? Ocean Beach or Mission Beach?

This is an answer from Candace M, who lives in San Diego:

Mission Bay by far. Way more options activity-wise, safe, and while neither have the best of what San Diego has to offer in terms of restaurants, Mission Beach has better freeway access and less congestion. Ocean Beach has more crime, more homeless People, but is also more residential. If you can rent a beach house, get one that faces into Mission BAY. Its literally across the street from the beach, so you still can do that, but this is the quiet-side, lots of great views, and the locals use it to avoid the tourists on the boardwalk. For reference, look up the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa, that is located on the bay and should give you a reference in terms of the location I’m talking about. All the houses around it facing the water are rentals/vacation homes.

This valuable information could only be given by a local or a San Diego travel expert. When armed with a few tips from the community, you can reserve your hotel with confidence. Sinking your cash into a hotel without doing your research commonly results in disappointment.

Have a question about a hotel at a destination you are heading to? Become a Trippy member and post your question. See you there!

Article by Claudia Looi

Mentioned in this post
  1. San Diego
    City in California

    San Diego California
  2. Detroit
    City in Michigan

    Detroit Michigan
  3. Palm Desert
    City in California

    Palm Desert California
  4. Switzerland

  5. Chicago
    City in Illinois

    Chicago Illinois
  6. Singapore

    Singapore Singapore
  7. Madrid
    City in Spain

    Madrid Spain
  8. Salamanca
    City in Spain

    Salamanca Spain
  9. Dubai
    City in United Arab Emirates

    Dubai United Arab Emirates
  10. New York City
    City in New York

    New York New York
  11. Sao Paulo
    City in Brazil

    Sao Paulo Brazil
  12. Spain

  13. Boston
    City in Massachusetts

    Boston Massachusetts
  14. Fort Worth
    City in Texas

    Fort Worth Texas
  15. Uyuni
    City in Bolivia

    Uyuni Bolivia
  16. Ireland

  17. Hawaii
    State in United States

  18. Puerto Rico

    Puerto Rico
  19. Old San Juan
    City in Puerto Rico

    San Juan Puerto Rico
  20. San Diego
    City in California

    San Diego California