Before booking up a hotel I read reviews and see what people think about the hotel and their experience there. Even for certain excursions and services I read reviews to see whether or not it would be a worthwhile experience for me as well as seeing if it's worth the price advertised. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to storing reviews so that they're readily available whenever someone wants to read them. My favourite website for reading and posting reviews would be Trip Advisor, I have used it for many years and have avoided certain places that look attractive and stylish but end up leaving people upset and unsatisfied with their stay. There are other websites that I frequently use such as Trust Pilot and Booking.com as well as reading the reviews while on Google Maps. Even though reviews can be helpful, some reviews become biased on experience and for situations and events that the place simply couldn't help. For example, if the hotel is in a busy area then it may have good transport links but the obvious being that it may be a little loud at times, especially if there's a special occasion and event in that specific country. This blog post lays an outline as to how to write a review that includes details that will help other travellers and will put out a fair opinion on the hotel you're visiting.
In this sense you may note down whether it's walking distance from any popular landmarks as well as noting down the transport links available. You may include your experience getting to and from the hotel, if you used public transport and if you got a taxi from the airport you could also include how much the fare cost. It would be helpful to add photos from outside the hotel room, in Paris from my hotel window I could see the Eiffel Tower, which added more value into my review as it gave me beautiful views throughout my stay. Reviews that I enjoy reading are ones that state if there are any shops nearby and any popular restaurants, from there it allows other people to research this restaurant and see if the shops around them would suite their needs throughout their stay. It's very important to explain the surrounding area it's in as well as explaining whether or not you felt safe in that particular area especially if you were walking there early in the morning or late at night.
When checking in make sure you make note of the time you got to the hotel, if you arrived at the hotel too early and most importantly before the check-in time then don't be surprised if the hotel turns you away and asks for you to come back later. In some reviews people may express anger and frustration that their rooms were not ready when they arrived but some fail to state that they arrived too early, if they had arrived after the check-in time and their room was not ready then that's simply a fault on the part of the hotel. Throughout your check-in process it would be handy to note whether the staff at the reception were friendly to you as well as if the process of checking in and out was simple and quick. In some lucky occasions some travellers review that they were given a free bottle of champagne and chocolates upon arrival but some people may be disappointed that this didn't happen to them upon arrival. The reason behind this being is that hotels like to celebrate special occasions such as wedding anniversary's and mile stone birthdays. If you do receive anything from the reception desk as well as if you find anything in your room, it would be helpful to other travellers to write down the reason you received these complementary gifts so that other travellers don't have high expectations when arriving as well as from there leaving a bad review for the hotel. If you do check-in late at the hotel then it would be important to note whether the hotel has a 24 hour reception or whether it's open until a certain time. This saves travellers the hassle and fuss of trying to ring up a number to get the key to their room if the reception closes before their arrival.
In most reviews the first thing you will read is whether or not the bed was comfy, the million dollar question, which for some people is a make or break as to whether they stay at that hotel. Travellers may complain that the bed is too hard or too soft but when writing a review all you simply need to note is whether the bed was comfy, hotels can't cater to everyone's mattress preferences. Another handy tip would be to describe the decor, if you like it then that's great - there will be other people who have similar tastes that will also enjoy it. If you don't like the decor then you must have a reason behind it such as if the wallpaper is ripping or if there's chippings on the desk included with your room. You can't simply write that you hate the rooms decor simply because it isn't to your taste, once again the hotel cannot cater to everyone's tastes so they try their best to find a middle ground for their customers. If you have a TV in the room then it would be helpful to note down what channels come with it and whether any of them included English speaking channels or channels that you're able to watch and understand. The room sizing is also an important part of a review but it's important to note what hotel room you have booked, if you have booked up a standard room then the room will have enough space for one or two beds, room to put your suitcase as well as having room to move around - don't expect space to start doing cartwheels and running around. Did the room you were staying in have features such as a wardrobe or a place to hang up your clothes as well as a safe to store your valuables? (most hotels include a safe within the wardrobe). If on the hotel website the hotel clearly states that they don't include a safe in the rooms then there is no need to express your disappointment in a rude way. The option would be to recommend to the hotel and other travellers that the hotel doesn't include a safe in the rooms, which would be an option for the hotel to consider, but mentioning that the hotel clearly states this on their website. If you're staying in a hot country then it would be important to state whether the hotel has air conditioning and whether this was enough to allow you to stay cool throughout your stay as well as if it was loud. The reason behind this being that some people are very sensitive to noise and may not be able to sleep if they can constantly hear the sound of an air conditioner in their room. Photos are one of the most helpful part of a review since travellers can clearly see what a review is referring to - if there's dirt in the room and showing the facilities within the room. Even though adding photos from the view from your room is helpful to some travellers, it's important to note that you are staying in one room with one set view, other rooms may have an even better or worse view. If you want to help other travellers then you can add a handy tip such as, if you want a good view of the London Eye then I would recommend requesting a room with that view or on the 7th floor.
Most hotels offer small shampoos, conditioners, shower gels and small packets of soap to their guests, this would be handy to include in your review whether the hotel provided any of these things (which would benefit travellers that are travelling light). Some travellers may review that there wasn't enough towels in the room, a fair point to make, but it's simple to get more towels - phone up or go down to reception and politely ask for some more (problem solved!). If you're staying in a 4 or 5 star hotel then you may be lucky enough to be supplied with gowns throughout your stay, many people may find this appealing as the star rating of the hotel reflects on the necessities and items within the room. One of my favourite products that I found in a hotel room was sanitary bags, something that most hotels don't offer, but this small touch made me feel a lot more comfortable and gave me a hygienic way to dispose of my sanitary products. The most important review of a bathroom would be whether it's clean - we all have different standards of what clean is - but the bottom line is would the bathroom and shower be clean enough for use and would you be comfortable using it. It would be important to note whether the hotel supplies you with a hairdryer, which is normally located in the bathroom, since then it saves travellers bringing their own. However, when I've read reviews that a hotel includes a hairdryer, this hairdryer has turned out to have very little power and to be very weak - making it unusable since I have very thick and long hair. Shower pressure is another thing that many people consider important in a review, especially since some people may be concerned about their water usage to help the environment whereas others prefer a higher and stronger water pressure when using the shower.
Facilities & Services
Many travellers overlook including the different types of facilities and services in their review mainly because they never used them so they thought not to include them. Even if you don't use the facilities such as the spa, swimming pool or Jacuzzi, another traveller may benefit from knowing that these facilities are at the hotel especially if they're staying at the hotel for long period of time. The utter most important part of a review that my eyes scan for first is whether the hotel offers WiFi - either paid or free. If the hotel offers free WiFi then I expect it to cover most areas of the hotel, including my room and the dining areas of the hotel if I chose to use them. If the hotel offers the option of paid WiFi, in which you decide to purchase and use, it would be helpful for you to give a comparison of whether the paid WiFi had a better speed and whether it was overall worth the cost. If you have housekeeping then most likely you will bump into them throughout your stay or when you're walking through the hotel. Did the housekeeping replenish all the items that were used up, such as toilet rolls and used towels, or did they miss it out? If they did miss it out then once again it's important to review this in the sense that this could've been a one off and an error as well as commenting whether you got the problem resolved. Then the person reading the review can sum up whether the hotel does this constantly or whether it was a one off incident. A small majority of hotels don't offer parking, which is stated on their website, but many people forget to research this before their stay and sometimes forget they have booked a rental car. If the hotel does offer parking then you can include the rates of parking that the hotel charge and the location of the parking. For example, some hotels may offer parking underneath the building whereas others may have a car park located opposite the hotel or in some cases even down the next street.
As much as price isn't an issue for some travellers as paying more may mean a more luxurious hotel as well as a higher star rating. However, price is an important factor for a number of reasons and it must be reviewed carefully. The reason behind this being is that if you state that you paid an awfully high rate for the hotel room, state the dates you stayed there and how long ago you booked the hotel room - if you book during the summer holidays and a few days before the trip then prices will be at an all time high. This would be a chance for you to help travellers save money by stating the best seasons to travel as well as including how you booked a room - if you book through the hotel it might be cheaper and the hotel may include some free gifts as well as offering you a code to get discount on your next stay. When reviewing the price it's important to work out whether the star rating, facilities and services offered by the hotel as well as the room itself matches the price you're paying for the room per night. If you're paying a very small price then don't be surprised when the star rating matches the quality of the room as well as the facilities and services offered.
Most hotels offer a free continental or cooked breakfast, in some cases you may be lucky and receive both, which is becoming more frequent and common among hotels. The price of the breakfast is usually included in the room rate, which is an added bonus, but it's important to note if there was a wide variety of food that would suite everyone's tastes. If you are offered a free continental breakfast then you may receive nothing more than cereal, toast and yogurt, which is standard and reasonable since you're enjoying a free breakfast from the comfort of your hotel. If you do decide to eat the breakfast offered then state what food items were offered as well as whether they were replenished. Some hotels unfortunately stop replenishing food items after a certain time, which leads me to the point of mentioning that reviewers should state what time they went down to breakfast. If you were the first one to go down to breakfast when it opened then you'll get first choice of the food and have more choice whereas if you go to breakfast minutes before it's over then don't be surprised that there's little options available. If you do have to pay for the breakfast then you can really go into detail to whether the breakfast was worth the money since you're paying for it. In my opinion if the breakfast is included within the room rate I don't like to complain as this I'll eat anything that's included within the price of the room - I'm grateful that it's free as it saves me money throughout my stay. If you decide to have dinner at the hotel the same rules apply, comment on whether you enjoyed the food and whether it was worth it when in contrast to the prices they charged.
If you did have any problems at the hotel it's important to highlight it - to show how the hotel dealt with it and to see if the solution was quick and efficient. Did they sort the problem out? If they did then highlight the member of staff that was helpful enough to help you resolve your problem as well as in what way did they solve your problem. If they didn't then highlight the steps you took to get your issue resolved and what the hotel said in response to that. If you include in your review that you had a problem in most cases the hotel will reply to your review where you can reach out to them and explain your situation. Hotels do this as they don't want negative feedback on their hotel for problems that could've been sorted while the guest was staying there. If there's anything that you think the hotel could improve on then give them constructive criticism as to what they could do to make the next guests stay even better than yours. Hotels often appreciate customer feedback as they're constantly striding to provide the best experience for their guests and keep them returning.
The last part of your review should sum up your experience at the hotel. Did you enjoy your stay? If so then highlight the main reasons as to why you enjoyed it and if not then highlight the reasons that your stay wasn't as good as it could've been. Would you end up coming again? Another point to conclude on would be to praise the people that prided themselves in putting your satisfaction and enjoyment as their priority throughout your stay. One kind message goes a long way and the person working at the hotel, whether it be a member of staff or housekeeping, would really appreciate your kind words.
One of the most important aspects of a holiday is finding accommodation, somewhere you’ll end up sleeping for the next few nights and somewhere that will be a base point in the middle of a new city or town. The most important aspect of finding accommodation is deciding what type of accommodation you’re actually going to use, whether it be a hostel, B&B (Bed & Breakfast), hotels or apartments. These each have their own advantages and disadvantages as well as their own unique features which individually tailor to each person.
B&B’s (Bed & Breakfasts)
B&B’s are simply places that include a room to sleep in overnight as well as including breakfast at the start of each morning. These lodgings tend to be quite small businesses and they are usually family run, with members of the family catering to different aspects of the business: greeting guests, cleaning, cooking breakfast or doing other small jobs around the house.
One advantage of staying at these establishments are that, unlike most hotels, there is a freshly cooked breakfast (usually with ingredients bought from a local farmer’s market or grown on site). These breakfasts are not only delicious but can be tailored to the individual since you can ask for specific items from the menu as well as asking for your food to be cooked in a certain way (if you like your boiled eggs hard or soft). However, a small minority of these establishments have a limited menu which fail to consider people with different diets such as people that are vegetarian or vegan, as they may offer a cooked breakfast that features meat with no substitutes for items such as sausages or bacon. It may be even harder to cater to people with gluten-free diets since B&B’s may not know the specific ingredients that go into every item that they serve at breakfast.
As mentioned before B&B’s are usually run by family members in their own home, which has been renovated to make their home into their business. This creating an exceptional level of customer service since these independent businesses need returning customers to make a profit, which means it’s more likely that they will take a hands-on approach to what the customer wants. Staying at a B&B provides the sense of it being a home since there are usually very few guests staying there as B&B’s generally only hold around 3 to 6 rooms. This may not be to everyone’s taste as some people staying there may find that they are forced to socialise with one another at breakfast. If you like meeting new people and sharing your experiences then this would be perfect for you. However, if you’re an introvert like me then this would be an absolute nightmare for me. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy talking to new people, but just at my own pace as well as not when I’m scoffing down breakfast and look like a hamster with its cheeks full.
The main reason people stay at B&B’s is for the locality of it since it is generally located in the heart of a town or city. This making it easy for tourists and travelers to go and explore during the day without having the hassle of taking public transport or having to take a long journey to get there. This also adds as a bonus for when you’re tired and just want your bed, which most days I do, after a long day of sightseeing and walking around. Even though B&B’s do pride themselves in a general location they can lack the amenities that hotels may offer such as a gym, spa and a swimming pool. Nonetheless, would you really expect a small family run business to be priding itself on a swimming pool and luxury amenities when its purpose is to give you a place to stay and a breakfast the morning after. Another downside to B&B’s being independent is that there isn’t usually a formal complaints policy and procedure that most hotels and hostels provide. If you had a complaint the furthest you could take it would be to the business/people you had stayed at, which in a worst case scenario may mean they ignore the matter which leaves you helpless.
Hotels are establishments that serve for a range of purposes, the main one being a place to stay for a couple of days, as well as providing meals and in some cases transport for guests. Hotels can either be part of a chain or independent, with hotels that are part of a chain being widely known as well as being very professional in the level of service that they aim to provide. In most hotels there are dedicated staff members for each section for the hotel: reception staff, chefs and waiters as well as cleaners with these people customarily wear uniform to show that they’re representing the hotel and being easy to spot for any queries or problems from guests.
I personally love the simplicity of hotels. When I travelled to Barcelona all I wanted to do was check in and get back into bed, since I had been up since 4am and had been travelling all day. The usual check in process begins by saying the name the booking is under, signing a few documents or providing photocopies of your passport and in some cases discussing the city tax. Nevertheless, not everything can be as simple as checking in and checking out hassle free. Most hotels have a policy where guests need to check out between 10am and 11am (some hotels make guests check out even earlier) and they can only check in from a certain time such as 2pm since cleaners need to make sure the room is tidy and presentable for the next guests.
Another thing I like about hotels is that they include a range of amenities, in which most come included in the price, such as WiFi, room service (in which your towels and bedding is changed daily) and if you’re lucky enough you might find a fridge or microwave in your room - the dream. These make staying away from home much easier since through these you’re able to do what you could do at home: speak to family and friends as well as keeping snacks in your room (maybe it’s just me). The only downside to this are that hotels can range in price, which also affects the quality of these amenities, since lower-budget hotels may provide slower WiFi as well as the comfort of your beds (this is not applicable to all hotels, but a majority). If hotels do include breakfast in the price, or even charge extra on top of the room rate, this breakfast has a likely chance of being cooked with cheaper and low quality ingredients. This is because they are being used to fed hundreds of people in some cases, so they will not be the freshest, with food being a buffet style (you can go up as much as you want and get whatever you want). Unlike B&B’s there is more of a chance that hotels will cater to vegetarians and vegans since there is a higher likelihood that guests will have different food diets.
Not only do most hotels have a dedicated complaints procedure for customers, which can either be through social media accounts or websites, some hotels have 24/7 receptions. This allowing guests to sort out problems immediately or making arrangements for them to be fixed, from the smallest of problems like asking for more towels (which are typically delivered to the room by staff members) or asking to be moved to another room (if there is a noise problem or in extreme cases bug infestations). With most chain hotels they will include generic hotel rooms, in this sense rooms don’t have a life of their own and most rooms will be exactly the same. In each room you’ll find a single or a double bed, a painting on the wall, a chair in the corner in the room and the generic ‘Welcome to the X Hotel! Have a wonderful stay’ book or pamphlet. This experience is tolerable for people just wanting a place to stay, but does not give the personalized experience that a B&B or an apartment may give. It would be highly unlikely that the staff there would remember your name or give you a personalized and memorable experience.
Holiday Rentals are rentals of different types of accommodation such as apartments, houses, cottages or home stays, in which people usually rent out properties that they own or have bought. The most common site people associate with holiday rentals is Airbnb since people can either rent out their property on there or people can find a place to stay either in their home country or the place they are travelling to.
The hassle of travelling with a lot of people is a nightmare since the thought of someone misplacing their passport or being late to the airport would ruin a holiday before it had even begun. The even bigger nightmare is finding accommodation that everyone likes, whether it be the price tag that comes along with it or the decor of bedroom they’ll be staying in. Apartments these days are usually modern and suited to everyone's tastes so that people will want to rent it while abroad. When I was in Australia me and my family stayed in a home that belonged to a family that rented it to us while they were out of the country. This home had that warm feeling surrounding it since around the house some of the rooms were decorated for children but others were more modern and grown up for the adults. Regardless, the home may look like a home from the pictures but in depth information is needed before agreeing to renting a home from somebody you don’t know in a place you haven’t been to. In this situation it’s best to book through a website as well as researching the neighborhood: Is it safe? Is there good transport links? Is this property located in the centre of a town or on the quiet outskirts? Another handy tip would be to look at the property or ask the owner what security measures they have in place.
Even though holiday rentals are not everybody’s cup of tea, it can save a lot of money in the long run especially if you’re travelling with a lot of people. If you are travelling with 10 people and are dividing the price equally then you would be paying only 10% of the price for the whole property (including a bed, shower facilities and the amenities of a home). It may be a hassle checking in since communication between the renter and guests may be limited and you’d have to contact them to resolve the problem. For example, the renter may hide a key in a padlocked box with a number for a code to unlock it, if the code did not work you’d be stuck in the middle of someone’s front garden with a bunch of suitcases waiting for them to contact you and fix it.
A home away from home is exactly what the title says: you have to do everything you’d do at home at this holiday rental. Some people may be lucky enough to get a BBQ thrown in with their accommodation since it was already part of the property which means fresh delicious food as well as spending some quality time with family or friends. With a kitchen provided many people enjoy to make home cooked meals, which would save time and money of going out and finding something to eat (with a lot of people this can take ages). Nevertheless, the subject of cleaning will eventually come up since there are no waiters or people to clean up after yourself and other guests staying. Cleaning up after yourself must be one of the most apprehended tasks for each party involved as being on holiday means you just want to relax, it makes it even worse if you’re the one left in charge of cleaning. One of the only downsides to leaving a holiday rental isn’t the fond memories of the place but in some cases being charged extra for someone to clean up after you when you depart. Some renters may charge up to £100 for a property to be cleaned since this includes washing duvets and towels as well as cleaning places such as the kitchen and the bathroom.
Hostels are a type of establishment in which categorize themselves in providing inexpensive accommodation with the catch being you may have to share this accommodation with other people as well as sharing bathroom facilities. Hostels appeal to mostly students and young people not only for the inexpensive price but the chance to meet other travelers and to make friends (especially if travelling alone).
When I mentioned that hostels were inexpensive, I really meant it. Hostels can be as cheap as £10 per night, if you’re travelling to a place where you’re going to spend most of your time out, what’s the point in spending hundreds of pounds on a hotel room just because it has a bit more privacy and luxury. The only downside to getting this inexpensive accommodation may be sharing facilities such as showers and toilets with people, no not literally, this isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey. The shower or sink may not be in the best condition since some people don’t understand the basic concept of tidying up after themselves. People, including myself, may be put off by this and this putting me off the whole idea of sharing facilities, yet I’m still up to the idea of staying at a hostel at least one time in my life for the experience.
Hostels usually include a safe and locker which can be used to put valuables in during the day and at night. As much as I love checking my Twitter feed in the morning since it’s like an electronic morning newspaper, this may be difficult since the effort put into getting up from my bed and getting it from my locker would prove too much for someone as lazy as me. This also stops you charging your phone overnight since you might wake up and find you’ve been charging thin air, oh how technology has progressed. My friends have told me horror stories that in some hostels they have had some lockers however these have not been padlocked leaving them open for anyone to go into. As much as I would like to trust that people, who are in the same situation as me and staying under the same roof as me, wouldn’t go through my bags, I had to come to reality about the world we live in.
Hostels allow countless opportunities for people from around the globe to interact and share their different experiences of not just the country you’re travelling to, but anywhere they’ve been to. If you’re a person who enjoys meeting new people and possibly taking tours with these people, since some people may prefer to travel with someone else, especially in a country they’re not familiar with. Even though people may enjoy talking about their experiences during the day, some just love expressing their own at night and making sure everyone knows about it. In a hostel you may have to put up with people coming in from a night out (if there’s not a curfew), which if you’re light sleeper is the most annoying thing in the world. Yes I know you enjoyed your night out, but you’ve just woken everyone up and you’ll probably not remember this or sheepishly apologize in the morning. The best thing to do while researching a hostel would be to read reviews regarding the atmosphere and character of it.
To summarize, the accommodation you want to stay at depends on the person as well as the company you’re travelling with and more importantly your budget. For solo travel hostels would be the best option for a budget friendly trip where as holiday rentals would be your best bet for travelling as a large group without trying to break the bank. If you want a holiday where everything is taken care of as well as staying for a longer visit a hotel would be the best option but a B&B would be a better option if you’re only staying in the area for the night or a few days.
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.