A Better Room in a Better Hotel.

After many years of traveling, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized I was being too casual about hotels. Basically, I just didn’t do enough research before making my reservations. As a consequence, a night or two in a hotel would sometimes leave me kind of vaguely disappointed, 

I changed my approach to picking hotels after I spent a night in a Chicago hotel that just wasn’t my kind of place. The decor was extremely modern. The colors were garish to my taste—pink and chartreuse and purple—and the furniture was very modern in design and, as a result, I found most of it to be uncomfortable. (Also there were foam pillows on the bed … and I hate foam pillows!)

Ever since that experience, when I travel to a town or city I may not have visited before, I put some time and effort into choosing a hotel for my stay. After all, if you’re going to spend $200-$300 a night for a hotel, it makes sense to put a little effort into choosing it! 

The on-line travel agencies—i.e.: expedia.com, kayak.com, hotels.com, etc.—are good for the research because you can set some parameters before you begin your search: location, maximum room rate, amenities, exercise facility, proximity to theme parks and other attractions, etc.

Once you have found a hotel that meets your criteria, go to that hotel’s web site to do the actual booking. That’s important and the rationale is simple: because the hotel pays a commission to the on-line travel agency, they make more money on guests who make their reservations on the hotel’s web site. If you book direct, you are more likely to get a better room when you check in—a room with a view, a corner room, a room close to the elevators, a room that has recently been renovated, a room on a higher floor away from the street noise. 

Finally—and this comes from a good friend who’s a hotel manager—take the time to make nice with the people at the front desk. Why? Because while you’re standing there checking in, they’re looking at their computer screens and selecting the room for the duration of your stay. Makes sense they should like you, doesn’t it?

Next time: Hotel chain loyalty programs.