What to Look for in a Budget Hotel

Tue, Feb 28, 2012

Budget Travel Advice, Destinations

What is a traveler to do when you find your budget hotel is so cheap you can’t watch Masterpiece Theater?

What is a traveler to do?

Booking hotel arrangements has gotten so easy, you may not pay attention to much more than price. Frequent travelers recognize locations more or less and prefer or avoid certain hotel chains in general. Certainly, businesspeople are not looking for swimming pools or tennis courts. On the other hand, you do probably want:

  • Cleanliness: Travelers want clean rooms and bathrooms, but this is a bigger issue since the bedbug scare. Cleanliness also means clean corridors and odor-free elevators.
  • Comfort: You really want a comfortable bed. Fancy furniture and wallpaper you don’t need, but you need a pillow and bed that allows a good night’s sleep.
  • Location: Location is a deal breaker in many ways. You do not want to be off of a busy street or in a  high crime area. You may not want to be within range of the highway noise, but you do want to be within easy reach of your meeting or destination.
  • After Hours: Most business travelers avoid the big hotel bars that were once the headquarters for business. An increasing number of business meetings are cut independently of the big restaurants. So, morning buffet and good coffee are usually enough.
  • In-Room: Fewer hotels have room service and more have easy delivery service from nearby pizza parlors, sandwich chains, and national chains with orders to go. Beyond that, your room  needs a desk, internet service (preferably free), and good lighting.
  • Price: “Affordability” does not just mean lowest price. Affordability means “value” to most travelers. Value brings price together with all of the above.

There is no value, no bargain in the cheapest room in Manhattan if you have to sleep standing up. There is no value in Los Angeles if you are 40 miles from your breakfast meeting. And, there is no value if you cannot watch your favorite shows like Masterpiece Theater – or ESPN – on TV.

And, the family traveler?

Families have different needs. You need amenities for your family as well as convenience to amusements, resorts, beaches, and the like. A morning buffet may make more sense for the family, but kids have fussy demands. And, they need more in-room options, such as gaming and movies.

Experian, Hotels.com, Priceline, and Orbitz all offer great hotel deals, but you need to drill down to find value beneath the price. Price and reservations come easy, but you are responsible for pursuing info on location, amenities, and comfort. Review the information about these “extras” and call the hotel if the information is not there. Among other things you may not see on the travel site are fees for parking, details about security, and nearby restaurants and facilities.

And, as a double check, read the customer reviews on the web. They tend to be quite frank – even if some are ghostwritten by the hotel management.

CC Eustaquio

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