Thanks to online travel sites like Hotwire, and Expedia, travelers have never been more empowered than they are today. You can easily pick your destination, travel dates and times, as well as virtually any other preferences you have and pop them into a site. Then, simply sit back and let the lowest fee come to you. Comparison sites show will show you everyone’s rates, while user reviews give you the pros and cons of each possible hotel. All the work is done for you – save one important task: actually booking the room.
Yet, with everything working in the traveler’s favor, things can still get complicated. Just when it seems almost too easy to find the lowest rate at the best destination – everything gets muddled in a mix of fees, add-ons and additional charges. Despite all the online research, at the end of the day it’s still difficult to know exactly what you’re paying for that hotel room.
Here are some basic tips for booking your next hotel room, which hopefully can help you determine just how much that room is going to cost you when all is said and done:
Beware of resort fees
Resort fees have been called the new bait and switch for the online era. These additional fees are a sneaky way for hotels to advertise much lower rates without actually giving that rate to the traveler looking for the best travel deals. Resort fees can tack on anywhere from an extra $10-$25 per night to your total hotel bill. The worst part about these additional fees is that usually you don’t know anything about them until you see the final bill. Often hidden within the small print, many hotels will address these fees as simply covering some of the perks of staying there. This can include Internet access, parking and even business center expenses. While these may all be worth a few extra bucks each day, other “perks” like towels at the pool and fitness center access may have you thinking twice. Always read the fine print before booking a room to make sure you know whether or not there’s an added resort fee.
Know what’s included in the room
There seems to be a converse relationship between the prices of hotel rooms and the amount of goodies that it includes. Whereas hotels once provided complementary water and a daily newspaper, nowadays you’re lucky if they still have ice available down the hall. The little conveniences we used to enjoy now carry an inflated price tag. Bottled water is almost always readily available in your hotel room – for a marked up price. Internet access will also most likely require an added charge. These conveniences, along with any goodies you snag out of the mini bar can add up quickly. Make sure you know exactly what is included in your room rate, and how much the extras all cost before you indulge.
Tack on travel expenses
Another often-overlooked aspect of your hotel stay is how you’ll get from place to place during your stay – especially if you’re not doing a car rental to get around. Does your hotel offer a shuttle to/from the airport? How about service to various landmarks or other sites of interest in the area? These are both questions you should ask when budgeting out your next stay. If shuttles are unavailable, be sure to check out any public transportation options. In major cities, utilizing the train or subway system can save you a lot of money and help you see even more of the area. If cabs are the best travel option, make sure you carry some extra cash to ensure you don’t get stuck anywhere. It’s also a good idea to check if cabs are plentiful in the area or if you’ll need to call for one.
Don’t forget tips
Tipping various hotel workers has been debated often, but more often than not it is a good idea. The maid staff, concierge and even the front desk clerks will all be more than happy to pocket your gratitude for a job well done. The only problem is that if you don’t account for it, you’ll be left wondering where all your cash went. Take into account an extra few bucks for the cleaning crew when budgeting out your hotel stay. If you plan on utilizing the concierge for help during your stay, add in something extra for him or her as well.
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