Can I Book A Hotel For A Few Hours – Booking a hotel seems like a pretty simple task, right? And in most cases, it is: choose your destination, choose your dates, enter your billing information and voila, happy travels!
However, there are some serious mistakes you can make when booking hotels. From booking on the wrong sites to forgetting to check important information, these mistakes can easily make or break your trip. Read on to find out what to avoid when booking a hotel room.
Can I Book A Hotel For A Few Hours
I was recently talking to a front desk agent about how her hotel chain assigns rooms at check-in. Intrigued, I asked what method her staff used to determine who got the best rooms. She shared a surprising fact: those who book through the hotel’s website or are members of a loyalty program are usually the first to get rooms with better views and quieter areas. Travelers who book through online travel agencies (OTAs) like Priceline often get rooms “on the fly” (what she called “ice maker rooms,” or basically whatever is left). The agent couldn’t tell me how many hotel chains do this, but she said it’s a “fairly common practice” and that it made the deal more pleasant for travelers who booked rooms at regular rates.
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The Fix: Hotel loyalty programs are often free to join, and membership can guarantee better room accommodations, free nights, or helpful services like free breakfast or Wi-Fi.
If the key to a happy trip is the best room, book it directly through the hotel’s website. But when those low, low OTA prices can’t be beat – we know the feeling – you can always request a specific room type or location.
A large double bed or two double beds? High or low floor? Don’t smoke? Water view? Three single red M&Ms? When booking a hotel, most booking systems allow you to enter requests or comment on your stay. However, in the fine print, most hotels also state that your requests are not guaranteed.
Correction: The old adage “Expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed” applies here, but it’s cold comfort when you really wanted certain amenities. First, be aware that hotels try to accommodate your requests. If upon check-in you find that your double beds have been converted to a single bed or you have been placed in a smoking room, please speak to the receptionist and politely request a change. It is also a good idea to call the hotel before arrival to confirm your requirements, especially if they are made for medical reasons.
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I am guilty of this tourist sin. On an overseas trip a few years ago, I noticed that my flight was leaving on May 14th, so I booked a hotel room from the night of May 14th. Rookie mistake. I completely forgot to check that my flight was a red eye that landed early on the 15th. That means I paid for an expensive (and non-refundable) room that I didn’t need.
The fix: Unlike your hapless writer, make sure you have a travel itinerary when booking and double-check your arrival and departure dates. Also consider time zones. If you are crossing the international date line, yes, the check-in dates may be different than expected. It’s also a good idea to have someone check your booking before you hit ‘confirm’ or ‘pay’ to make sure the dates you’ve chosen are correct.
Credit cards play a crucial role when booking a hotel. Not only do credit cards offer rewards like airline miles, free stays, or cash back bonuses, but they also offer certain guarantees that debit cards and cash don’t (such as fraud protection or instant refunds in the event of a payment error).
Another tip that many travelers don’t know about? Most hotels will require a contingency deposit if you use a debit card to protect against overdraft fees if you don’t have enough funds in your account. These additional deposits can add up: I once made a $100 deposit in Las Vegas that didn’t show up in my account for two weeks.
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The Fix: If you manage your money wisely and choose the right type of credit card, you can see a number of benefits when booking accommodation. NerdWallet combines the best credit cards with travel benefits. Also, be sure to check out Tim Winship’s Miles and Points column that SmarterTravel runs every week. In it, Winship lists current promotions on credit cards.
Travelers beware: a misleading hotel name or location description may lead you to book a hotel at the airport when you think you’re staying in the city center. You’d be surprised how often travelers see a hotel name and quickly book it without checking that it’s in the right place. After all, some hotels may call themselves “located near the city center”, but a quick search might reveal that they are located at the airport… two hours away.
Fix: Check the postal address and find the exact location of the hotel in Google Maps. Always enter the address of your hotel and find out how far it is from popular attractions and restaurants by foot, car or public transport. Try entering the addresses of some interesting places you would like to see at your destination and plan your route. You can also explore the area using Street View in Google Maps. And if there are several hotels of the same chain in the city, make sure you book a room in the right area – Hyatt Times Square and Hyatt Flushing are really very different.
Back in March, editor Ed Perkins reported on one of the most heinous resort fees we’ve ever seen. At a hotel in Colorado, a decent $170 room rate was inflated with a $35 cleaning fee, a $40 resort fee, a $10 pool and spa fee, and a $5.10 processing fee. Oh.
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Fix: You can fight some fees like cleaning or newspaper delivery if you don’t want to use such services. Others, such as a resort fee, are mandatory, so you have to factor in additional costs when booking a hotel. Hotels are expected to clearly display resort fees, but OTAs may not and will instead include vague terms such as “additional fees may apply.” Therefore, call the resort and ask directly about additional resort fees before booking.
If you’ve ever tried using Oyster’s Photo Fakeout feature, you know that hotels go to great lengths to make their properties look perfect. But once you arrive, that infinity pool can actually be the size of a postage stamp, and those luxurious sheets can be like sandpaper. Take everything the hotel says about itself with a grain of salt (or gravel).
The fix: Do your research. Reading user reviews is a tricky balance. You want to read as many reviews as possible without suffering from information overload. You also want the reviews to be unbiased and fresh. The best way to get an accurate picture of a resort is to choose review sites wisely. TripAdvisor and Oyster (which, like us, own TripAdvisor) offer a fairly accurate view of what your hotel has to offer; Oyster room photos are a great resource if you’re wondering how your room matches up with your own elegant – and perhaps photoshopped – images of the hotel. Be suspicious of reviewers who rave too much, and vice versa: if you see that Bob Grump has given every hotel he’s ever stayed in one lousy star, feel free to question Bob Grump’s judgment.
As most procrastinators readily admit, waiting until the last minute to plan a trip can have dire consequences for your credit card balance. Hotel prices can skyrocket in the days leading up to a certain date, and you could end up without a room if everything is booked (or if nothing remains within your budget). On the other hand, being an advanced planner can have its drawbacks: Sure, you might want to have all your tourist ducks in a row as soon as possible, but it can actually cost you money if you book a hotel room too early.
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Correction: There are no easy answers to the question of when is the best time to book a hotel room. Prices depend on many factors: location, seasonality, convention attendance and even the weather. In general, the most popular destinations cannot be booked more than 21 days in advance; you put yourself at risk due to inflated prices. It is best to start checking prices at least 40 days in advance and watch the trend. If you think prices are going up, book now.
To make sure you’re getting the lowest price, hotel booking site Tingo (a subsidiary of SmarterTravel) will automatically track your hotel and rebook you at a new, lower rate if prices drop. Of course, if you’ve waited until 11 a.m. and the hotel selection seems modest, try the Hotel Tonight app, where you’ll find really last-minute deals.
You’ve seen a hotel you like advertised for a “great price!” and immediately dialed the credit card number and
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