A hotel is an establishment that offers accommodations and sometimes meals to travelers.When is booking a hotel a good idea?✓ If you want a reliable lodging experience with the convenience of daily linen changes, room service, or an on-property restaurant. If you need to stay in a central location, near an airport or the center of town. If you need the peace of mind of staying in a secure building.When should I not book a hotel?✓ If you’re on an extended stay (usually longer than two weeks).✓ If you need the convenience of a kitchen or need extra room because you’re traveling with a larger group. If you don’t like living in close quarters with others or prefer that other people, like housekeeping and room service, not have 24/7 access to your living area.How should I book my hotel?You have several options for booking a hotel room — each one with its own set of benefits and challenges.
When you go shopping for hotels, you’ll find all kinds of descriptions, from “budget” to “luxury.” But these can mean different things to different guests, and no one can seem to agree on the best definition. I like AAA’s simple diamond classification system, which can help you find the kind of hotel you’re looking for quickly.One DiamondThese establishments typically appeal to the budget-minded traveler. They provide essential, no-frills accommodations. They meet the basic requirements pertaining to comfort, cleanliness, and hospitality.Two DiamondsThese establishments appeal to the traveler seeking more than the basic accommodations.There are modest enhancements to the overall physical attributes, design elements, and amenities of the facility typically at a moderate price.Three DiamondsThese establishments appeal to the traveler with comprehensive needs. Properties are multifaceted with a distinguished style, including marked upgrades in the quality of physical attributes, amenities, and level of comfort provided.Four DiamondsThese establishments are upscale in all areas. Accommodations are progressively more refined and stylish. The physical attributes reflect an obvious enhanced level of quality throughout. The fundamental hallmarks at this level include an extensive array of amenities combined with a high degree of hospitality, service, and attention to detail.Five DiamondsThese establishments reflect the characteristics of the ultimate in luxury and sophistication. Accommodations are first class. The physical attributes are extraordinary in every manner. The fundamental hallmarks at this level are to meticulously serve and exceed all guest expectations while maintaining an impeccable standard of excellence. Many personalized services and amenities enhance an unmatched level of comfort.
Many hotel reservations aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, or the electrons that render them on your computer screen. Here are some of the most common problems you’ll encounter.Lost reservation.Although your website may generate a reservation number, some guests arrive at check-in only to find that no one has heard of them. The reason? Reservation systems, some of which still are powered by fax machines (yes, fax machines), can break down. Fax machines run out of paper, you know. The workaround: Always call your hotel to verify your reservation, even if you made a direct booking.Overbooking.Hotels routinely accept more reservations than they have rooms, because a certain percentage of their guest are “no shows.” That’s fine, but the computer algorithm that allows a hotel to do that isn’t always the most reliable. The fix: If your hotel is out of rooms, it should “walk” you to a comparable hotel, which means it will send you to another hotel and pay for the first night’s lodging. It’s almost impossible to know in advance if a property has overbooked you, but rest assured, if it has, you’ll still have a place to stay.Wrong dates.Hotel dates can be sometimes be tricky, because you arrive on one night, and stay until the next morning. Your reservation starts on the day you check in and ends the day you leave. That can throw some people off, because they say, “I’m planning to be here on Sunday, so I need a room for Sunday,” but they arrive Saturday night. They actually need a room for Saturday. Also, pay extra close attention to booking hotels in Europe. Date conventions there are Day-Month-Year, not Month-Day-Year, as they are in the United States. You could end up with a reservation for the wrong month. If you are unsure about how dates work, consider using a travel agent.
Although some of your rights are outlined in the terms contained in your reservation, you have additional legal rights that are detailed in your state’s lodging statues. Each state’s laws are slightly different, and we don’t have the space to deal with each state’s rules in detail. Here are the major types of “rights” you can expect to see addressed in a state’s lodging laws:✓ Limits of liability for property left in a room.✓ Rejection of undesirable guests.✓ Telephone surcharges.✓ Conduct on the premises.✓ Unclaimed property.✓ Sanitary regulations.Not exactly the kind of lodging “bill of rights” you would hope to find, that might promise a reservation is a guarantee of a room, for example. But even though hotels appear to have a broad license to play games with their customers, they usually don’t. The reason: The lodging industry is highly competitive, and hotel managers know that if they treat you badly, you won’t be back a second time. This contrasts sharply with, say, airlines, which are confident you’ll return, as long as the fare is low enough.The hotel staff is trained to address grievances in real time, and like other travel problems, they can offer you everything up to a “comped” room (in other words, zeroing out your bill) if the situation warrants.When you’re dealing with a large hotel chain, you also have a final layer of appeal, when you’ve hit a dead end with the property. You can send your case to the corporate owner. So, for example, if you have a problem with a DoubleTree property and are getting nowhere with the local manager, you can forward your grievance to Hilton at the corporate level. Even the suggestion that you might “take this to corporate” can make a hotel change its tune. Properties are evaluated by their corporate parent based on how many complaints they generate, and they will often do everything in their power to make you happy before you go over a hotel’s head.