Can You Walk Into A Hotel And Get A Room – Making a hotel reservation sounds so easy, right? And often: choose a destination, choose your dates, enter payment information and voila, happy travels!
However, you may be making some big mistakes when it comes to hotel bookings. From booking on the wrong websites to forgetting to check some important information, these mistakes can easily make or break your trip. Read on to find out what to avoid when booking that hotel room.
Can You Walk Into A Hotel And Get A Room
I was talking with a receptionist recently about how the hotel chain allocates rooms at check-in. Interestingly, I asked what method their employees used to determine who would get the best available rooms. He revealed this amazing fact: People who make reservations on the hotel’s website or who are loyal members of the hotel get first place for room allocation with a better view and a quieter location. Travelers who book through online travel agencies (OTAs) like Priceline often get rooms that “run the house” (they call them “ice machine rooms” or basically anything else). The rep couldn’t tell me how many hotel chains do, but said it’s a “very common practice” and sweetens the deal for travelers who book regular rates.
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The fix: Joining hotel loyalty programs is usually free, and membership guarantees a better room assignment, free nights, or valuable amenities like free breakfast or Wi-Fi.
If getting the best room possible is key to a happy trip, book directly from the hotel’s website. But while these low and low OTA prices are unbeatable – we know the feeling – you can always stake a claim for a specific room or location.
A king bed or two doubles? High or low? Is smoking prohibited? A view of the water? Three single red M&Ms? When booking your hotel, most booking engines allow you to request or add feedback about your stay. However, in the fine print, most hotels also say that your claims are not guaranteed.
Correction: The old saying “expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed” applies here, but cool comfort is when you need some comfort. First, be aware that hotels usually try to accommodate your requests. If you notice upon check-in that your double beds are single or that you are placed in a smoking room, contact the receptionist and politely request a change. It’s also a good idea to call the hotel before you arrive to confirm your request, especially if it’s for medical reasons.
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I am guilty of this travel sin, as charged. When I went abroad a few years ago, I noticed that my flight left on May 14th and I booked my hotel from the night of May 14th. Startup error. On my flight that landed on the morning of the 15th, I completely gave up on seeing red-eye. This means I pay for an expensive (and non-refundable) part that I don’t want.
Correction: Unfortunately, unlike your author, make sure your flight itinerary is set when you book and double check your arrival and departure dates. Also consider time zones. If you’re crossing the International Date Line, yes, your check-in dates may differ from what you expect. It’s also not a bad idea to have someone review your reservation before you hit the “Confirm” or “Pay” button to make sure the dates you’ve chosen are correct.
Credit cards are king when booking a hotel. Not only do credit cards offer rewards like airline miles, free nights, or cash-back bonuses, but debit cards and cash also offer certain guarantees that don’t (like fraud protection or quick refunds on fraudulent charges).
Another tip that many travelers don’t know? Many hotels ask for a deposit if you don’t have enough money in your account, so you can use a debit card to avoid overcharging. These additional deposits can add up: I once paid a $100 deposit in Las Vegas and this deposit was not returned to my account for two weeks.
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The fix: If you’re smart about money management and choose the right type of credit card, you can see a lot of benefits when booking accommodation. NerdWallet brings together the best credit cards with travel benefits. Also, don’t forget to cover Tim Winship’s Miles & Points column, which SmarterTravel publishes weekly. In it, Winship lists available credit card promotions.
Travelers, beware: A misleading hotel name or location description can lead you to book an airport hotel when you think you’ll find a central location. You’d be surprised how many times travelers see the name of a hotel and quickly check in without making sure it’s in the right location. After all, some hotels may call themselves “close to the city center”, but a quick search will show that this location is at the airport.
Fix: Check the postal address and find the exact location of the hotel on Google Maps. Always enter the hotel’s address and see how far it is from popular attractions and restaurants by foot, car or public transport. Enter the addresses of some of the attractions you want to see from your destination and create a route map. You may also want to explore the area with Google Maps Street View. And if there is more than one hotel of the same chain in that city, make sure you book the property in the right neighborhood. Hyatt Times Square and Hyatt Flushing are truly different.
In March, contributing editor Ed Perkins reported on one of the ugliest entertainment payoffs we’ve ever seen. The average room rate at Hotel Colorado is $170 artificially inflated by a $35 cleaning fee, a $40 resort fee, a $10 pool and spa fee, and a $5.10 handling fee. ah
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Correction: If you don’t want to take advantage of such services, you may struggle with some fees, such as cleaning or newspaper delivery. Others, like resort fees, are mandatory, so you should consider the additional cost when booking that hotel. Hotels are expected to clearly display resort fees, but OTAs may not and may instead contain vague language such as “additional fees may apply.” So call the property before booking and ask directly for additional resort fees.
If you’ve ever tried Oyster’s Photo Fakeout feature, you know that hotels go to great lengths to make their properties look their best. But when you arrive, this incendiary pool can literally be the size of a postage stamp, and those amazing sheets can feel like sandpaper. Take everything a hotel says about itself with a grain of salt (or sand).
Solution: Do your research. Reading user reviews is a tricky balancing act. You want to read as many reviews as possible without being overloaded with information. They also want reviews to be unbiased and up-to-date. The best way to get an accurate picture of the resort is to choose review sites wisely. TripAdvisor and Oyster (like us, owned by TripAdvisor) provide accurate previews of what your hotel has to offer. If you’re wondering how your room will compare to the hotel’s own sleek and perhaps photoshopped images, Oyster room photos are a great resource. Be suspicious of overzealous critics and vice versa: If you see Bob Grump assigning a thin star to every hotel he’s been in, don’t be afraid to ask Bob Grump’s judgment.
As most travelers readily admit, waiting until the last minute to make travel plans can have dire consequences on your credit card balance. Hotel prices can go up in the days before a certain date, and if everything is booked (or there’s nothing left in your budget), you may be left without a room. On the other hand, being an advanced planner can have its downsides: Sure, you might want to pack all your travel ducks as soon as possible, but booking your hotel room early can cost you money.
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The fix: There are no easy answers to when is the right time to book a hotel room. Prices depend on many factors: location, seasonality, meeting crowd, even weather. As a general rule, booking more than 21 days before your arrival date is not recommended for the most popular destinations. You put yourself at risk for price increases. Your best bet is to start checking prices at least 40 days in advance and watch the trend. If prices seem to be going up, make a reservation.
If you want to make sure you get the lowest price, hotel booking site Tingo (SmarterTravel’s sister company) will automatically track your hotel and rebook you at the new lowest price if prices drop. Of course, if you wait until the 11th hour and hotel options seem slim, check out the Hotel Tonight app for real last-minute deals.
You’ve seen an ad for your favorite hotel “at a great price”! And immediately wrote the credit card number and
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