How to Choose the Right Hotel for You

How to Choose the Right Hotel for You

Please note that some posts contain links that earn me a small commission to help keep the site running.

Choices are great. But too many choices can get overwhelming. When booking a hotel, there are so many to choose from, so it’s important to have a plan in order to choose the right hotel for you. It’s not always the most exciting part of planning a vacation, but you need a place to sleep. By following my simple steps, you’ll save yourself time and reduce frustration. 

Filtering and sorting hotels

No matter what booking site I’m using, the first thing I do, once I’ve put in the city and dates I’m searching, is filter the hotels by my desired price bracket. Unless there are hundreds of hotels, I will usually leave in the ones that are in the lowest bracket even though I’m willing to pay somewhere in the middle. You never know when something good might end up in the super cheap range.

how to choose the right hotel for you

Next, if the site has filters for amenities, I choose the ones that are most important to me. You can say you only want hotels that have WiFi, a pool, and parking. Sometimes you can choose how many stars you want or the type of hotel such as “romantic” or “family.” This will eliminate any hotels that don’t match your requirements, which gives you fewer options to sift through.

Then sort your list. Maybe price is the most important thing, or maybe you want to sort by the review ratings. Now you can look at the choices in the order that’s important to you.

Looking at the map

how to choose the right hotel for youAre there certain attractions in the destination you’re traveling to that you want to be close to? Do you want to be close to the airport? Do you want to be close to public transportation?

These types of things are usually mentioned in the hotel description, but it would take a long time to read every single one to find out. Instead look for the map view. Move the map around until it shows the part of town you want to stay in, and then only open up hotels that are in that area.

Some booking sites will show all hotels on the map, even if they don’t meet your criteria. You should be able to distinguish the ones that match your requirements from those that don’t by the color of the pin or marker used to label each hotel. That way you don’t have to get excited about a hotel only to notice later that it’s outside of your price range.

Decide what’s important in a hotel

Some people only want a hotel with free breakfast while others prefer to eat their morning meal at a local restaurant or bakery. If free breakfast isn’t important to you, don’t let that become a determining factor.

If you want a place with WiFi, read to see if it’s free or for a fee and if it’s available throughout the hotel or just in the common areas like the lobby. Also determine if the hotel has only WiFi, only a computer with internet available for use, or both.

how to choose the right hotel for you

Are you arriving late at night? Check to see if they have 24 hour reception. If not, sometimes you just need to notify the hotel of your arrival time and someone will let you in. But there are some places that are impossible to check into if you arrive past a certain time.

Look at things like the bed size and smoking vs non-smoking rooms. Does the hotel provide any toiletries or a hair dryer?

Not all of these things will be important to you. Pick a few that are essential to you, and eliminate hotels that don’t have all or most of what you’re looking for.

It’s important to focus on what matters most to you and ignore everything else in order to choose the right hotel for you. It will waste your time if you look through every single hotel on offer, so filtering out the ones that don’t meet your criteria will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend on this task.

Read more about lodging:

I personally love using Booking for hotels when I travel. Click below to check them out!

how to choose the right hotel for you

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  1. Matthew Cheyne

    Now that I’ve read your post and know how to choose the right hotel, I need to ask you what are the best websites to use in order to find hotels? Do different websites best serve certain destinations or is there a one best site that is good worldwide? And will you be doing a post on this in the future?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      I have a post coming up next week on how to read hotel reviews. I haven’t decided yet how I want to present sites I like for booking hotels, etc. I might end up making a separate page with sites I like.

  2. Jennifer

    These are all great tips for searching for hotels! What advice would you have for when you arrive at a hotel and it is not at all as was described?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Jennifer! I’d say it widely varies depending on what the problem is. If you book a suite and they put you in a regular room, you calmly explain to the front desk and try to get your room switched. If it’s something that can’t be changed but is clearly not what you were promised, I think the best you can do is talk to a manager and/or write a letter. You also have to realize that some things are out of their control, like if they should have wifi but something goes wrong with the connection.

  3. jan

    Lots of good tips here. I always look at the cheapest with the best reviews. But then, I would always back an outsider as well! (but I only go to the races once a year for the Townsville Cup, where the dresses count more than the races, lol)
    Budget Jan

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Ha! Thanks Jan! Cheapest and best reviews is a great place to start!

  4. Tommy

    Hi Ali. Nice post here. I normally look at trip advisor for a rough idea of the hotels available in the city. Recently, did check out as they claim to be independent reviews with a dedicated team of reviewers visiting hotels.

    I normally look out for hotels with wifi. A tip I have is to book early with rates that allow me to cancel without penalty later if I can find a better hotel or rate nearer the date of travel

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Tommy! I’ve never heard of oyster, I may have to look at that. I’m not too picky about which sites I use for booking hotels since they all have reviews. I definitely always look for wifi. Unfortunately as a blogger, I don’t like to go more than a day without internet if I can help it.

  5. Suzy

    It bothers me to no end when hotel search engines list hotels as having free WiFi, only to find out that it is only free in the lobby. I think it’s important you point this out because if I see a place that says free WiFi, I always reference the hotel’s main website and see what it says. Many booking agents don’t get this right. I also think paying attention to cancellation policies is important. If you can cancel up to 24 hours before your stay without incurring a fee, I usually go with that hotel because life can be uncertain. You never know if your plans will change.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      I totally agree! It makes a huge difference if I can use my laptop in the room or if I have to go to the lobby. And yes, the cancellation is important too. You don’t want to get stuck with paying for a hotel you’re not even going to use if your plans unexpectedly change.

  6. Justin Knox

    Thank you for the help. My wife and I are going on vacation soon and are going to be looking for some good lodging. I like the idea to have a list of what is important to us in a lodging facility. Do you think that it is practical to have a list of the top 5 things that we are looking for?

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Sure, it’s always good to start with your wishlist for choosing a hotel, and if you have to compromise, decide which items are must-haves.

  7. Erika Brady

    I like the order that you suggest to do things. Look up the city and dates, and then narrow your hotel options down by prices at that point. It is good to narrow down the options of prices. Sometimes it can just be a good deal with a cheap price and quality hotel, or it can be a cheap price and a low quality hotel. So it is also important not to settle solely on price! I love traveling, and staying in a hotel is always one of my favorite parts.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Erika! Always good to base your hotel choice on factors other than price, even though obviously price is an important one.

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