TripAdvisor.com has just released its list of the top 25 hotels in America. The list has it all, from luxurious California estates to rustic mountain lodges to urban highrises in the center of the action. There’s something for every traveler.
And even though I haven’t stayed at any of the featured hotels, I’ve spent my fair share of time in rented rooms. The TripAdvisor list started me thinking about the things I look for when I’m booking a place to stay. I definitely have my list of must-haves for any potential hotel. What are those must-haves, you ask? Well, let me tell you.
I’m by no means high maintenance, but I need a bathroom in my room. I’ve done the backpacking thing before, and while it was fine in my college days, I’ve come to accept that I’m at a point in my life where I’ll pay extra for an en suite bathroom. Hostels were fine (and some were even fun) when I had a tight budget, and they let me stretch my dollars enough to see a lot of Europe, but now I’d like to leave my shower shoes at home. This one is a deal breaker for me in my old age.
Location is another huge factor when I pick a hotel. It doesn’t have to be fancy but, depending on the kind of traveling I’m doing, it does need to be convenient. So for me, that means if I’m doing a city-break weekend type of trip, I want to be close to the action (ideally, within walking distance of wherever I want to spend most of my time, whether that’s close to sightseeing or shopping). If I only have a few days, I want to make the most of every single second, which means it’s worth it to me to stay somewhere close even if it means paying more. I’d rather spend my time seeing the sights than negotiating transportation because I’m sleeping outside the city center to save a few bucks.
Another factor in looking at location is safety. In my opinion, it’s always worth spending the extra money to stay at a hotel in an area where you feel safe and secure. You don’t want to be afraid to walk from your hotel to a subway station, or worry about getting back to your bed before dark.
Last, but definitely not least, on my list of must-haves is cleanliness. As I said above, I don’t need to stay at the Ritz (in fact, I’ve never stayed at a Ritz) but a clean hotel is non-negotiable.
The next one on my list isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but it’s always nice to stay at a place with some extras (free Wi-Fi, free continental breakfasts, etc.). It can save you money in the long run if you don’t have to ante up for three meals a day. On that note, having a kitchen (or even just a fridge or microwave) in the room can help, too. Food expenses can quickly add up, especially if every single meal and snack has to be purchased at a café or restaurant.
One of my favorite travel tips is to immediately find a supermarket or shop where you can buy fruit, snacks and bottled water. Markets are almost always cheaper than restaurants, and even if you don’t have a mini fridge in your room, fruit like bananas and apples will keep just fine (and they make a healthy alternative to a candy bar from the hotel vending machine).
So there you have it. Give me a clean, conveniently located hotel with private bathrooms and I’m in heaven. I don’t need thousand-thread count sheets or a personal concierge to have a great time (although, I wouldn’t turn them down).
What amenities do you look for when booking a hotel?
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