10 most important things to consider before booking a hotel or AirBnb


Tips for Booking a Hotel room
If you've ever been disappointed by a hotel or Airbnb stay, it's likely you may have overlooked one of these key considerations.

Plenty of us have stories of hotels or Airbnbs that did not live up to their promise – or worse.

From unclean linen to missing amenities or far more disturbing challenges – like a distinctly unsafe area, being given keycards to already occupied rooms (and stumbling in on the inhabitants) or the case of France’s bedbug infestation right now.

Sometimes it’s the smaller aspects of a stay that can be the most annoying. Like discovering what the hotel’s website listed as a ‘short walk’ to public transport, actually involves lugging your suitcase across busy intersections and down dark alleyways for 25 minutes to reach a train station.

It’s just one example of accommodation providers being overly generous with their descriptions. You would think a good perusal of the photos offered on their website to be more telling, but with wide-angle lenses and good lighting, sometimes even these can be deceptive.

And it’s not always true that the higher the price, the better your experience. Splashing out can be even more disappointing if details, big or small, are a let-down.

If you’re travelling for business, your requirements may be slightly different to that of a leisurely holiday, but even then, taking some time to consider your booking will pay off. For example, being stung with exorbitant Wi-Fi rates or patchy coverage can be decidedly irritating when you are in the destination to get critical work completed.

To avoid these challenges and plenty more, it pays to spend a few minutes investigating your options and cross-referencing hotel deals with images and reviews from actual customers online.

Location and accessibility

Consider if the hotel or Airbnb is located near the places you want to visit and is easily accessible. Whether it’s when you come and go on foot, if you’re planning to use public transportation or if you’re travelling in a private vehicle, is it close to major highways?

Is it located well for what you want to use the accommodation for? For example, is it a waterfront villa allowing you to regularly take a quick dip, or do you have small children that would be safer in one of the apartments set back from the beach?

On a holiday, how far is it from tourist attractions you’re keen on? You don’t want to waste hours on travel to and from if there’s a better option.

Use reviews, recommendations and most importantly – Google Maps. It will help you virtually navigate through a place you’ve never been to and ensure your hotel is in the area you’d like. Once you’ve pinpointed some options, use the street view function to view the exterior and ‘walk’ the street to gauge the area it’s located.

The price

This is often the first element people use to determine their booking. It’s no secret travel is expensive, so saving money can be crucial.

It’s obviously important that the hotel fits within your budget for the trip but its also worth checking if there are are there any additional fees or charges to be aware of, like resort fees, internet or parking, etc. Taking the cost of meals into account also helps too, especially if there are extras offered, like free breakfast.

While booking sites that can compare hotel prices are a great port of call to see what’s available, always check the hotel’s own booking tools and specials listed on its website. Direct bookings are often cheaper or have better upgrades or options.

It can be easy to be swayed by the appeal of a deal (and the desire to just book something and get it over with) but it’s always worth comparing prices for similar options.

The pictures

The more pictures there are, the better idea you get of whether a potential hotel or Airbnb is exactly what you’re looking for.

It’s important to understand if the image you’re looking at is for the exact room type or location you are booking for. With hotels offering a carousel of images – including the top of the line master suites – it can be tricky to understand which image corresponds to the room and price you are looking to book.

Reviews and ratings

An important tool to use while choosing, it’s worth being aware that sometimes people love to complain about the smallest details. However it’s whether the issue comes up in multiple reviews or the average score overall you want to pay attention to.

It’s also worth considering one or two things that are important to you an. For example, if a quiet space is key so you can sleep well, look out for mentions of the rooms or location being noisy or sound from the street travelling. If you are travelling alone, how safe did other similar travellers feel during their stay?

For this approach it’s useful to use a keyword search to wade through the comments. In the examples above, search for the keywords ‘loud’ and ‘noise’ or ‘unsafe’.

Reviews are also the place to check if how the hotel or Airbnb represents itself in its description and photos match up with reality. Often fellow travellers share these details, as well as photos taken during their stay which can be helpful in making a decision.

If you use reviews and ratings to guide your decision, make sure you leave your own to help others following your stay.

Bed and room configurations

This becomes more important the more people you are travelling with, but something you don’t want to get wrong. There’s nothing worse than travelling for hours and realising adults that aren’t a couple need to share a room or are faced with a only a queen bed.

With an Airbnb carefully check what type of property you are booking. Will you have the entire place to yourself or is the dwelling joined or shared with others?

Cancellation policy

An important detail that’s often overlooked. No matter how much it feels like your plans are set in stone, unexpected changes are always possible and a good cancellation policy could save money, time, and frustration.

Some hotels have a 24-hour cancellation policy and others have a 72-hour policy. Some charge for cancellation and some offer free cancellation up to a certain point. Some booking sites have free cancellation up to a certain point before scheduled arrival and allow you to filter your search using ‘free cancellation’.

Check the fine print to avoid paying exorbitant fees.

Check in / Check out times

 Confirm the hotel or Airbnb check-in and check-out times and see if they align with your travel plans. Sometimes this is more important than others, for example if your flight lands early in the morning and you will need to fill the day before you check in. 

Policies for special circumstances

If you are traveling with bulky luggage, for example a mountain bike or snow gear, you are travelling with children or taking your pet with your, ensure the hotel or Airbnb is set up to accommodate your needs. Confirm their policies regarding any specific needs or circumstances you may have,

Friendly staff

Not the most obvious thing to consider but this can make a real difference to your stay. Check reviews to understand how friendly and accommodating staff are. A great Airbnb host or concierge full of relevant and enjoyable recommendations can really make your trip

Correct dates

Finally, it shouldn’t need to be said, but with experience in this area we feel the need to remind you to always check you have input the correct dates for your stay. With different time zones it can be even easier to make this mistake, so checking twice before hitting ‘book’ is the wise thing to do.


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