How to look for hotels on the Internet

How to look for hotels on the Internet

Choosing the right hotel is always a trying task, and with the enormous number of promotions, deals and programs out there, it can be downright overwhelming. It doesn’t help that these days most hotels have Web sites full of tantalizing photos and slick promotional copy that make you believe you’ll be bathed in luxury as soon as you step foot into the lobby. How can you tell if a hotel will live up to its own hype and, more importantly, if it’s the right hotel for you?

Since every traveler has different needs when searching for a hotel, you’ll need to ask yourself what’s most important to you. Whether you’re looking for a great deal, a great location or a great B&B, we’ve broken down the hotel selection process to make it easier for you to find the best hotel for your trip.

What Matters Most?

Before beginning your search, ask yourself what type of accommodations you want and what your budget will permit. Does location trump price, or are you limited to hotels under $150 a night? Do you need a hotel with a spa and fitness center, or would you rather stay at a small property with lots of local charm?

Once you’ve decided on your top priority, then you can make a more targeted search. Following are the most common determining factors in choosing a hotel, as well as tips for finding properties that suit each particular need.

Price: Nearly every major booking engine gives you the option to sort your results by price. Don’t limit yourself to the big three (Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz) — you should also pay a visit to other booking sites like Kayak.com, Venere.com and Hotels.com. And don’t forget to check our very own discount hotel deals!

Real Life Experiences

Few of us book a hotel these days without checking out reviews written by fellow travelers on sites like TripAdvisor, VirtualTourist and the big booking engines. This is where you can learn the truth about how friendly the staff is, how clean the rooms are and whether the Wi-Fi actually works.

Many review sites also allow users to post photos of their hotel which are usually more realistic and less glamorous than the professional snapshots you’ll see on the hotel’s own Web site. Another good source of undoctored photos: Oyster.com, whose eye-opening Photo Fakeouts contrast marketing photos with candid shots of what the hotel really looks like.

thumbs up down rate ratingOf course, it’s always a good idea to take traveler reviews with a certain degree of skepticism. Overly fawning reviews may actually have been written by hotel employees in disguise, while some negative reviews may come from super-fussy travelers who simply have an ax to grind. But despite the occasional misleading review, most traveler ratings are an honest, unbiased and invaluable resource when deciding between hotels.

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