How to choose a good hotel

E&O Hotel in Georgetown, Penang, is my all-time favourite hotel

I have worked in the travel industry as an editor, PR and blogger for nearly 10 years now which means I have seen it all – the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly when it comes to hotels.

This is funny because I grew up in a family of campers. My primary school’s Year 6 Canberra trip was the first time I’d ever stayed in a hotel.

Hotels have always seemed so glamorous, with all of their floral arrangements, room service and fluffy towels. But now I probably know too much about operations and ownership, meaning that I look past this for certain things.

Here are my five hotel hacks that will make your travelling life a whole lot better:

  1. Brand
    There’s a little thing called brand standards, meaning that each hotel within a brand will have a certain look and feel, as well as a particular style of service. Find a brand you like and stick with it. Brand standards are designed to ensure global consistency and ensure that hotel owners maintain their properties to a particular standard.
    Tips: Sofitel globally, QT in Australia.
  2. Heritage status
    Is the hotel heritage-listed or located in a UNESCO World Heritage-listed area? If so, there is a good chance that the hotel will be protected by heritage preservation laws. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be in great condition but it does mean that the hotel owners have had to retain certain key aspects of the building. The upside of this is that old hotels – or hotels built within heritage sites – usually come complete with excellent stories about their famous (or infamous) guests and/or the previous uses of the building.
    Tips: E&O Hotel, Penang, Moana Surfrider, Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, Waikiki, Raffles Singapore, Hotel Majestic, Ho Chi Minh.
  3. Location
    This seems like a no-brainer but there are some locations worth avoiding. Anything near a convention centre is probably deadly dull. Same goes for airport hotels. Avoid anything above a pub (noisy), anything in an industrial or satellite suburb, and try to avoid anything that is right next to a highway.
    Tips: Choose cultural neighbourhoods, waterfront sites or the CBD.
  4. Age
    Hotel rooms get really knocked around so it’s worth finding out the age of the hotel or, at the very least, when the last refurbishment was done. Soft refurb = new carpets, bedding, curtains, mattresses. Hard refurb = full fit-out including the bathroom. Try to choose a new or recently renovated property.
    Tips: A quick Google or a look at the hotel’s media/newsroom should tell you if it’s new or recently refurbished.
  5. Features
    Hotels are great at listing their many features but there a few that really count. Look for fast, free Wi-Fi, coffee and tea making facilities in the room, 24-hour reception, a Club Lounge upgrade option that serves breakfast in the morning and drinks in the evening, an outdoor pool, a spa run by a reputable brand, and a restaurant and bar that are marketed as standalone entities and have street access.
    Tips: A Club Lounge upgrade might seem expensive but once you add up the cost of breakfast and drinks, it can sometimes work out cheaper overall.

Tripadvisor is the obvious choice for checking up on a hotel but it’s also worth checking the hotel’s own social media channels, as well as hashtags using the hotel’s name.

It’s also worth noting that most big hotel groups have loyalty programs that are free to join and provide perks to members.

Happy booking, friends!



2 comments on “How to choose a good hotel

  1. While travelling choosing hotel such a big task, however you solve this problem by these useful tips. But budget hotel is also a main factor to choose. Can you suggest me how to choose cheap or budget hotels while travelling? I’ll be grateful.

  2. Hi, there’s one thing I wish for in hotels, but finding it seems to be a bit of a gamble – sound-proof rooms! I can think of at least one very nice, expensive hotel I’ve stayed in, where the customer service, amenities, etc. were all great, and I’d normally rave about it to others and probably go back there – but I didn’t because of the noise from the room next door!

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