Ever changed your hotel room after you checked in? Avoid duplicating that experience by following these tips from our intrepid traveler Susan …
LOCATION…LOCATION…LOCATION: Getting The Best Hotel Room
At a dinner party the other night each couple confessed that they often change rooms at hotels after checking in. The interesting part was that each couple said that the woman was the one who made the change – the male partner was more complacent about living with the situation. (SNOETY says: Not in my family’s case!)
If you are the one responsible for hotel arrangements, here are some tips to help you avoid room changes:
The Ground Rules
Know something about the property: Check out the hotel’s website and also guest comments at www.tripadvisor.com (very helpful) to figure out the lay of the land. If you are still unsure, call the front desk (not the central reservations number) to find out necessary details (see below on what to look out for). If possible, especially for a resort, ask if they can e-mail you the property floor plan with room locations.
When making your reservation: Even if you make specific requests via a hotel website or other reservations system, make sure you duplicate these with the front desk via telephone to make sure these notations are in your reservations record. If necessary, ask to speak with the reservation’s manager. For overseas, an e-mail (or fax if you can’t locate the hotel e-mail) is probably best. Call the front desk to get the e-mail and/or fax contact if necessary. TIP: if you plan to visit this city regularly, make sure the property knows. They’ll be more interested in doing right by you if repeat business is possible. If you are a returning guest, make sure they know this, too. In Europe and Asia especially, repeat patronage is recognized.
Before arrival: A few days before arrival call the front desk back and ask if they can block a room in advance that matches the requests in your reservations record. This usually works for large properties. If the hotel is a small, boutique type place and has already acknowledged your request per above, you may not want to bug them. This is a judgment call.
Think about using a travel agent: As noted in previous posts, it usually doesn’t cost you anything more – perhaps less if the agent has a negotiated rate — and you get the benefit of the agent’s relationship with a hotel chain or property, knowledge about the place and ability to make your requests happen.
It Never Hurts to Ask (Nicely): If you are booking a lower rate room but hoping for an upgrade to a better view or room type, speak with the front desk and ask if they think this will be possible upon check-in. They can tell you if it’s a busy time or not and what your odds are. Always reiterate your request upon check-in (again, ask nicely). Note that if you are a premium member of a hotel chain (i.e.: Starwood Gold, Hyatt Gold Passport, etc.), these requests are easier to get fulfilled, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying!
Look Out …!
Bed Type: Seems obvious, but many times I’ve found that the requested king bed was not available upon check-in. In Europe, note that king beds are not as common, but often 2 single beds put together as one are (yes, there will be a slight indentation in the center, but mattress pads are pretty good). European queens are wider than American ones, but not longer.
Non-Smoking vs. Smoking: In the U.S. this is becoming less of an issue, but overseas if you can voice a preference (not always possible for smaller hotels) do so.
Connecting Doors: Not a safety concern (they lock from both sides) but a noise issue — amazing how sound migrates under the door opening, so avoid if you can.
Bathroom Configuration/Orientation: Read the previous post on hotel bathrooms. In general, avoid those where the bathroom door opens to the bed area if you are traveling with another person.
Elevator Lobbies and/or Ice Makers: Both noisy areas — request a room away from these. A room at the end of a corridor will always be quietest (less traffic), but often single women travelers are cautioned against these locations for safety reasons, so this is a personal choice.
High Floor vs. Low Floor: Higher floors generally have more daylight, often better views and less noise from streets below. Safety experts often note that lower floors are easier for rescues due to fire ladder heights. So, this too, is a personal choice. In a resort, ground floors often have patios; higher floors have balconies, another choice that will also influence your view (see below).
Room Orientation (City Hotels): Street views are usually nicer than other options, but are usually noisier. If it is a boutique hotel in an older property, windows may not be double-glazed. So, if you are on a busy street, there may be rear view choices that are okay compromises — or go for the highest floor possible.
Room Orientation (Resorts): Ocean Front, Ocean View, Partial Ocean View, Garden View — these are typical resort choices and it’s obvious the list goes from higher priced to less expensive. The hidden values are usually somewhere in the middle. Often Ocean View and/or Partial Ocean View provide some good choices and here’s where the resort map – or at least speaking with the front desk – is critical. Higher floor vs. lower floor obviously comes into play, too. Note that in resorts some Ocean or Partial Ocean View rooms may look over the pool, and ones on opposite side may face a golf course or open areas. A pool can be a noise issue or something you may not wish to look at, so beware. Further, all things being equal, an east facing room may be better than a west one, as afternoon sun could render your wonderful balcony unusable in hot climates.
AC/Heat Controls: Always best if you have individual control of AC and/or heat. Usually not an issue with larger properties, but can be one for smaller places here and abroad. Especially important to check this out if you are traveling during hot summer months.
Tell us your secrets for getting the best hotel room and what you look out for, and, sweet dreams!