Choosing the best accommodations when you travel can make or break your holiday. It’s important to pick somewhere that fits with your holiday style and that the location, type and amenities are going to help you enjoy your holiday.
One of the first things I think about when looking for accommodation is what type of holiday I’m going to have. Am I looking to spend relaxing days by the pool or am I going to be out exploring all day? Am I traveling with others or just with my husband? Do I want to do lots of planned activities or take every day as it comes?
All of these things will change what type of accommodation I would choose. There is no point paying for a luxury resort if you are going to be out exploring all day and if you want a relaxing pool experience, you want to make sure the pool is a good one.
Here are some resources I use to help me find and decide on where to stay.
Location is everything. If you are looking for quiet relaxation, don’t book in the middle of a bustling city. If you want to be able to walk to everything, make sure you’re not staying off the beaten track. Seems simple but it’s important to know what is around you and how that will impact your stay.
If I’ve been to a destination before, I am more likely to pick somewhere that is close to the things I enjoyed about the place and not worry so much about distance to those I know I can get to by car, walking or other modes of transportation. If I’ve never been before, I’m likely to pick based on the more well-known locations, the location of the activities I want to do and ease of getting around. This may mean sacrificing large sprawling resorts to make sure I’m in the middle of everything.
Google Maps is a brilliant resource for you to be able to see in 3D (in most locations) where you are staying and what is close by. You can see how far a hotel is from the beach and major landmarks as well as things like restaurants, activities, shops and markets.
If you sign up for a Google account, you can ‘pin’ all of your favorites in advance to be able to use when you reach your destination. If you don’t want to use your data while out and about, you can download the map and your favorites and use them offline.
This makes it really easy to research the things you want to do and keep them saved in one place, ready to access on the go. You can also create a custom map and share it with family and friends.
Review sites – TripAdvisor
Sites like TripAdvisor provide real time ‘star’ ratings based on traveller experiences and will give you the most accurate view of the property. The site lists reviews, photos (from the property and travellers) has the ability to get pricing and make a booking and also offers an easy way to see what is located close by.
I like to read the best positive reviews but also the really negative ones to see what people had a problem with. Often, negative reviews are things that could have been avoided with proper planning and by understanding what you are booking. There are often people who are unhappy with a room type they booked but travelled in the busiest time and are upset that the hotel couldn’t move them. Or that a pool was unheated in a super tropical location. You can get a good feel when reading negative reviews of if there are fundamental issues at the hotel or if there are things that could have been avoided if the person travelling had done their research.
A hotels Facebook page or Instagram account will give you some great information about what is happening at the hotel and will often include info about the wider location. You can also view feedback and ratings which are a quick and easy way to see what people are saying about the property.
A hotel website will often have the most information about the hotels amenities and room types as well as additional information such as onsite restaurants, activities, spa and gym facilities as well as the surrounding area. Many hotels now offer a price guarantee to offer you the best price online, however you should still do your research to see if there are better options. They might offer the cheapest but another site might offer the same room type either with additional inclusions or in your own countries currency to save on international transaction fees.
The HGV Club Member Website and Hilton.com
If you are using your points for you holiday the first thing you should do is look at the Club Member website. Each of the properties has a short write up with photos, amenities lists and points charts, everything you need to determine the best place to stay.
If you are converting your points to HiltonHonors, Hilton.com will show you all the hotels you can use using your points, including all of the brands under the Hilton banner.
Blogs and Specialist Sites
There are many blogs and specialist sites dedicated to locations around the world and for specific travelling needs. There are sites dedicated to travelling with young kids, to travelling alone or for people with disabilities. These sites can be invaluable as they often provide a real person’s expertise and experience in a specific place or holiday type.
By using the above tools, you will get a good idea of what to expect before you go so you can be sure you will enjoy where you are staying- choosing the best accommodations is half the battle after all!