Hotel Must Haves: What to know before you book your next stay (Contest Closed)

WE HAVE A WINNER!! Congrats to Wendy M!

In June 2011, we set out on a yearlong trip around the world. While few things were certain, we knew that we’d be sleeping in our fair share of hotels as we traveled. Over the course of that year we not only slept in “hotels, motels and Holiday Inns”  (as the “Rapper’s Delight” song goes) but we also found ourselves in trailer parks, bed and breakfasts and homestays.

A good night sleep can’t be underestimated and when you’re traveling with young children, making sure everyone is comfortable and happy can make a huge difference in how the rest of the day goes. Over the years we’ve gotten better at choosing where to stay and what to look out for.  As you plan your next family adventure, here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before you book the hotel.

 How Big is the Room?

Just slipping into a hotel for a night? A tiny, cramped room might be fine.  Planning on a few days and expecting to spend a lot of time in the room? Think again. There’s nothing like a rainy day to make you realize that 200 square feet is not a lot of room for a family of 4.  Be realistic about what you need to be comfortable. Look at photos of the room you’re looking to book on the hotel website or at oyster.com  before you hit the *purchase* button.

Room Holiday Inn

Room to spare

Can the Room Accommodate you?

When we set out on our trip the kids were only 6 and 8. In most places we visited I wasn’t comfortable having them in a room separate to ours. In some countries, that can be a problem. Triple rooms (i.e. sleep 3) are popular in places like China; quadruples are harder to come by. Hotels have rules about how many people can be in a room and some set out how young children must be in order to share a room with their parents. Are there options for connecting rooms? Are you comfortable with them? Think ahead. These are not the kinds of surprises you want to bump into when you get there.  Make sure you have a good understanding of the situation you’ll be facing before you book.

What’s the bed situation?

If you’re traveling with really little ones, you’ll also want to have a sense ahead of time of what the hotel provides, so that you can travel with as little as possible. Do you need to bring your playpen or does the hotel provide one? Is there a charge? Some hotels like Holiday Inn will have those options on hand but you still want to have your request noted on your reservation. And it’s not just little ones you need to think about.

china train

An overnight train in China meantseparate beds. A-ok by them.

As we traveled with the boys, one of the first things we realized was that we’d assumed they’d be fine sharing a bed for the year.  We were wrong. Be realistic about what you need or you’ll risk extra expense when reality strikes.

 Bathtub vs. Shower

When you’re used to bathing your kids in a tub, walking into a room without one can be an issue. If not having a tub is going to be a deal-breaker, better to know that before you get there. Check ahead to make sure your room has what you need.

Location, location, location

Whether you make the notation on your request at time of booking or you ring the hotel after you’ve locked in, there are certain predictable noisemakers that you can avoid in advance. Elevators  are high traffic zones and ice machines are unpredictable. Asking for a room away from these is a good start. There will be times when you won’t be able to predict what the problem will be. Maybe, your next door neighbours are night owls who like to party or the snorer in the next room rattles your wall. This is where you’ll get more with sugar than venom. Speak kindly with the manager on site and ask for a room change as soon as you note the problem.  Also, keep in mind your comfort preferences. Young kids and a balcony way up high may not be a good idea. If you’d prefer to be on a lower floor, the best time to ask is before you commit.

What’s included?

pool jump holiday inn

You know what I hate? Thinking I got a great deal only to be nickle and dimed when I arrive. You know how to avoid that? Ask upfront. Is WiFi included? Is access to the fitness centre? Are there any resort fees or extra costs not covered by the rate you’re considering? Once you’ve got your eye set on a particular hotel give them a ring and ask the questions. Over time you’ll begin to have a sense of which places include what. We know when we choose a Holiday Inn property WIFI and pool access are included. We also know that the kids will eat free and won’t be stuck with only “chicken nugget and french fries” options. And knowing that means we might choose that chain over another in a situation where that’s what we need.  If your hotel is charging $25 per day for WIFI and you know you’re going to need it, you’ll want to know that long before you first log on.

What’s been said about it?

Read those reviews.  We already know that many of you are.  That survey I quoted in my last post showed 75 % of Canadians surveyed were checking out their hotels before they got there. That’s a good thing. Any information – good or bad – you can get about the place you’ll be laying your head is useful. Pay it forward after your stay by adding your review to the pile online.

What about you? What are the questions you always ask before you book your hotel? Let me know in the comments below and you could win enough points for a 3-night stay at the Holiday Inn of your choice! One winner will be chosen at random on January 4, 2014.  Want extra entries? Share the contest on Twitter or Facebook using the form below.  Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 111 comments… add one }

Courtney December 22, 2013, 1:12 PM

I always ask about internet cost/options and the cost of parking. Nothing like getting a “great” deal and having to pay an additional $25 – $30 a night for parking.

Reply

Viky December 22, 2013, 7:00 PM

Bed size — our family of four just won’t fit comfortably in two double beds, but we can skip the second room if there are two queens. We also check internet costs and whether breakfast is included. When included those two (and parking if appropriate) can make enough of a cost difference to justify upgrading to a nicer hotel.

Reply

Jennifer Gilbert December 22, 2013, 7:32 PM

At least a king size bed and if traveling with the kids, a pull out or second bed. A pool is a must too. The reputation of the hotel is important too.

Reply

Issa Mas December 22, 2013, 7:40 PM

Traveling as a single mom means choosing a hotel that is either centrally located or one that offers lots if transportation options. Minimizing stress is important when you’re traveling alone with a young child, so being in a hotel that’s either in the center of the attractions we traveled to visit, or that offers us shuttles and transfers, is hugely helpful.

Reply

sahil December 22, 2013, 8:08 PM

king size bed, free wifi and shuttle service, my three main requisites.

Reply

Erin Bender December 22, 2013, 8:12 PM

We not only want to know if Wifi is included, but how fast is it. As we are usually working while travelling if we can’t make a decent skype call then it’s pretty useless for us. My daughter always wants to know if there is chocolates on the pillows :D

Reply

Sandy Trojansek December 22, 2013, 8:45 PM

WiFi, a King size bed and shuttle service are my requirements!!

Reply

Erin Truax December 22, 2013, 9:28 PM

I always ask about early and late check out. When traveling I try to maximize my time in each city.

Reply

Candace Alper December 23, 2013, 8:37 AM

I always ask that there be a fridge in the room when travelling with Hannah. Food allergies mean we need to keep things on hand. Also wifi ;)

Reply

Kathy Buckworth December 23, 2013, 8:37 AM

I always like to know if they can guarantee adjoining rooms. MOST hotels will not, so it’s good to get a request in early on the off-chance they can.

Reply

Lara December 23, 2013, 8:44 AM

We’re staying in hotels with the kids more now that they’re a bit older. Last year was our first trip with multiple hotel stays and we stayed in a holiday inn every stop. I know what to expect and that made me more comfortable than anything. We’ll be doing the same when we drive down to our vacation location in myrtle beach this march.

Reply

Peter Johansen December 23, 2013, 8:51 AM

Wi-fi, preferably free! And a really comfortable bed….like the one we were in last week at Le Hotel Bleu in Brooklyn.

Reply

Sandra Chung Kestane December 23, 2013, 9:30 AM

I’m a stickler for cleanliness, the reviews help me with my final choice. The size of the room and the beds are also main factors to ensure comfortability for our family of four. Wifi is a bonus but not of importance since being on vacation means spending time with family minus our need for electronic stimulus. Wifi is usually available in a common meeting area or for a fee, so if we do breakdown, there’s always an option.

Reply

Jenn December 23, 2013, 10:13 AM

Our next vacation – that’s a tough question! I’d say the beach, the kids would say camping, and Dad, well, he usually goes with the flow. I know we have been thinking about driving to DC to visit the Smithsonian in the summer…. and, we’d love to go visit our long time friends in Alberta… and we’ve never seen the East Coast…. so many options!!

Reply

heather December 23, 2013, 11:00 AM

I like to know the location. Are we within walking distance to public transportation, what attractions are nearby. Nothing worse than being in the middle of nowhere.

Reply

Carla December 23, 2013, 12:21 PM

Wifi, fridge, size of beds, fridge, and is breakfast included.

Reply

Lindsie Grey January 3, 2014, 2:53 PM

I always look for wifi and a safe for my camera equipment. The next destination on my wish list is Peru. Gotta see the llamas.

Reply

Martha January 4, 2014, 7:35 AM

A coffee machine and a good hotel pool are essential! (Mostly the coffee machine)

Reply

Tracey January 4, 2014, 8:40 AM

I always ask how much a up grade is. More times than not it’s $20 and we can usually get a suite or at least 2 separate sleeping places for our teens.

Reply

Sara January 4, 2014, 8:44 AM

I always check out pictures of the room we are booking and customer comments and reviews have been very helpful for finding out tips about the hotel and what to watch out for

Reply

Sharon January 4, 2014, 8:54 AM

I always ask about parking (especially if it is in a downtown area), whether or not their is a breakfast included and if not, what restaurants are close by.

Reply

Colleen Curtis January 4, 2014, 8:57 AM

I always ask of there is an construction underway on the premises and if there are any conferences at the yime I am booking for.

Reply

Karma Brown January 4, 2014, 8:59 AM

Great post! When taking a family trip, I always ask about mini fridge/kitchenette, for a room away from elevators, and if there’s a pool. Also, a suite is a great solution if you can find an all-suite hotel on budget, because when the kiddo heads to bed, we don’t have to as well!

Reply

Monica January 4, 2014, 11:11 AM

If using a hotel as a park and fly option, ask the detailed questions before you arrive. How many days can we park our vehicle? Is there an airport shuttle? Is the shuttle 24hrs? Are there early morning breakfast options available at the hotel for those really early departures?

Reply

Amy January 4, 2014, 12:14 PM

While I think that online reviews can be very important I always try to be a bit skeptical of them. There are a lot of trolls out there! The best way to choose a hotel is by the recommendation of a friend. It helps out a lot that I have a lot of friends who love to travel!!!!

Reply

Jb January 4, 2014, 7:35 PM

I always ask about wifi and, maybe weird, but I hate traveling alone or as a couple and having a room with two beds! It just seems like too much clutter/not romantic depending on the situation!

Reply

kathryn January 4, 2014, 8:01 PM

I’d like to carry on my next vacation in Nova Scotia

Reply

Nicole January 4, 2014, 8:04 PM

I always ask if we have access to free wifi and the fitness centre. I also ask if there is a charge for leaving the car at the property if we are flying out of town.

Reply

JubleeW January 4, 2014, 11:15 PM

I would love to carry-on in Edinburgh Scotland!

Reply

Jenn January 5, 2014, 12:48 AM

WiFi is a must, and also, a nice view too! I would love to carry-on in New York!

Reply

Dawn January 5, 2014, 12:03 PM

we ALWAYS ask if there’s a pool and if early check-in is available! With 2 kids, you need to know these things!

Reply

Erika January 5, 2014, 2:46 PM

Free internet is always key as well as the convenience of early/late check-out. I would carry-on my adventures in Japan!

Reply

Maggie January 5, 2014, 8:19 PM

I would like to carry-on my next vacation to Ecuador and Peru.

Before I stay at a hotel I generally check the reviews and I check maps to see what buildings are around the hotel as well. I try to avoid a hotel that’s smack dab in the middle of a super busy area.

We just stayed at the Holiday Inn in Peterborough last night. Nice hotel and beautiful view of the river from our room.

Reply

maria January 5, 2014, 11:56 PM

I would love to go to Miami. I stayed at the holiday inn in both LA and Palm Springs. Both good experiences.

Reply

Rajbinder Kaur January 6, 2014, 12:34 AM

Would love to carry on next in Goa, India! The Holiday Inn in Goa is absolutely gorgeous!

Reply

Avery January 6, 2014, 12:18 PM

I ask if there’s a fridge.
I like to bring my own snacks and milk for my morning coffee. :)

Reply

Tracy January 6, 2014, 6:05 PM

i’d love to go greece!

Reply

Maggie C January 6, 2014, 7:46 PM

Love to carry on to Cali!

Reply

Angela January 6, 2014, 7:54 PM

Double beds and wifi! Close proximity to shops and restaurants is also a must.!

Reply

SUMMER PLEWES January 7, 2014, 3:55 PM

I’d like to carry-on wifi to somewhere warm with big beds and clean rooms

Reply

beth January 7, 2014, 6:10 PM

Id like to travel anywhere honestly. Hubs doesnt much care for travelling. Id love to see LA

Reply

Andrew P January 7, 2014, 7:01 PM

WiFi and size of beds, would love to go to L.A

Reply

Kim January 7, 2014, 7:14 PM

I always ask about the bed. Two people in a queen size bed – which isn’t always queen size, btw, is just not luxury.

Reply

Josh S January 7, 2014, 9:05 PM

I would like to carry-on some place hot and away from this cold! I like to ask about wifi.

Reply

David January 7, 2014, 9:31 PM

some place HOT!!!

Reply

Cheryl (@loucheryl) January 7, 2014, 9:37 PM

Somewhere with a beautiful beach!

Reply

Yashy Murphy January 7, 2014, 10:06 PM

I have a loooong list of what I’d like to have but mainly I want it to be CLEAN. CLEAN… did I mention clean? Everything else I can pretty much manage with as long as I know ahead of time what to expect which is why I read hotel reviews for hours before booking a room. Fab tips here! Lots to think about as the little ones grow older… thus far it’s easy!

Reply

Lori Jackson January 8, 2014, 7:55 AM

Id like to grab the hubby and head to Montreal and catch a Habs game!

Reply

Mark Villanueva January 8, 2014, 11:03 AM

Id like to carry on thru the streets of New York city.

Reply

Kristina January 8, 2014, 11:57 AM

Location (downtown preferably), free Wi-Fi & free breakfast would be great :)

Reply

Ann January 8, 2014, 12:02 PM

Would love to carry on in Vermont

Reply

BlessedTA January 8, 2014, 12:22 PM

Hawaii

Reply

Jason S. January 8, 2014, 12:45 PM

Be near major tourist attractions and with free parking.

Reply

Joan Brown January 8, 2014, 12:48 PM

I always check the out the hotel online and examine the pictures. I also like to read other people’s comments on the hotel. I ask about wifi plus early and late check-outs and if they pick up at the airport.

Reply

Tyler Anthony (@TylerAnthony989) January 8, 2014, 1:02 PM

I’d love to go to NYC for my birthday March 22.

Reply

Sunshine G January 8, 2014, 1:14 PM

Would love to carry on in Hawaii…the important features in a hotel are wifi, a good bed and decent shower!

Reply

Bons January 9, 2014, 3:06 PM

Carry on to France

Reply

SueSueper January 9, 2014, 4:10 PM

I ask regarding transportation from the hotel to tourist attractions and/or airport. :-) Is breakfast included :-)

Reply

Jonnie January 9, 2014, 4:17 PM

I would love to vacation in Vancouver next. I always ask the hotel if they offer late checkout, what the pool hours are and what their cancellation policy is.

Reply

DebH January 9, 2014, 4:18 PM

Carry on over to Europe!

Reply

Vesper Meikle January 9, 2014, 4:19 PM

Carry on to England, or New Zealand . Always ask if the room is ensuite – it’s amazing how many places in Britain are not

Reply

Sugy January 9, 2014, 4:20 PM

I check to see if there is an elevator if I am travelling with a stroller. nothing worse than having to lift a sleeping child in your stroller up several flights of stairs.

Reply

Brenda Penton January 9, 2014, 4:24 PM

I’d like to carry on in Scotland

Reply

ComputerKittie January 9, 2014, 4:25 PM

I always check out online reviews before deciding on a hotel. And we would LOVE to win a stay at the Holiday Inn in Frankfurt for our family trip in April! Thank you for offering this fabulous contest. :)

Reply

Chaun January 9, 2014, 4:27 PM

Would use in California!

Reply

SweetPanda January 9, 2014, 4:46 PM

I want to go to Hawaii!

Reply

Josie January 9, 2014, 5:42 PM

New York!

Reply

Taina Del Valle January 9, 2014, 5:53 PM

The kids always like to have pool access if we are staying at a hotel for a little while. I think it’s good to look at reviews if we are choosing a hotel for this reason (and many other reasons) because some hotel pools can be too tiny or unclean, or maybe they are outdoors and we are in a cold climate.

Reply

Karen Urroz January 9, 2014, 5:56 PM

I would definetly check what’s not included in the room cost, I hate paying for all the extras like parking, WiFi, pool etc.

Reply

ginette4 January 9, 2014, 6:20 PM

I would check in Egypt

Reply

Pamalot January 9, 2014, 6:37 PM

I would like to visit my sis and her family in B.C.
I always ask about parking fees, access to pools, whether there is breakfast available and internet fees when I book a hotel.

Reply

CAROLANN WILSON WESTBROOK January 9, 2014, 6:52 PM

I always ask if our room is near an elevator or ice making machine as the noise is bound to keep me awake. Also, I want to know if there are any sports teams staying on our floor, if so, I change our room.

Reply

Julie Bolduc January 9, 2014, 6:55 PM

Toronto

Reply

Michelle January 9, 2014, 7:12 PM

Looking forward to carrying on in Florida

Reply

Suzanne Giroux January 9, 2014, 7:34 PM

Hawaii

Reply

Suzanne Giroux January 9, 2014, 7:38 PM

I like to check if there is underground parking.

Reply

Marla January 9, 2014, 8:09 PM

Montreal :)

Reply

Heidi C. January 9, 2014, 8:17 PM

It would be so nice to carry on in Hawaii!

Reply

Evelyn January 9, 2014, 8:49 PM

If room has a mini-bar fridge.

Reply

cathy c January 9, 2014, 9:12 PM

New York please is where I would like to carry-on!

Reply

Cathy C January 9, 2014, 9:15 PM

Read my post about what I would carry on LOL Timely post don’t you think.
http://cathythinkingoutloud.blogspot.ca/2014/01/travel-tips-tidbits-tuesday-post-1.html

Reply

Lisa Neutel January 9, 2014, 9:17 PM

So many places I’d love to visit..Tennessee or Florida

Reply

michelle tremblett January 9, 2014, 9:49 PM

I would love to carry on my vacation to Alabama and new Orleans :)

Reply

Marlene V. January 9, 2014, 10:11 PM

Greece

Reply

Happy Chinadoll January 9, 2014, 10:20 PM

Disney Land!

Reply

Tara January 9, 2014, 10:23 PM

Bahamas!

Reply

Lori Pappas January 9, 2014, 10:28 PM

I like early and late check outs, so I always ask about check in and check out times.

Reply

Anthony Castro January 9, 2014, 10:30 PM

I’d like to carry on in Quebec City for a few days with my family.

Reply

Michelle M January 9, 2014, 11:13 PM

Think a trip to Vancouver to visit friends would be awesome.

Reply

Hilary Marsh January 9, 2014, 11:30 PM

I check for heated pool(my kids love to swim and not so much in a cold pool!) and free wifi! Such a drag when it is extra. Location is key to want to be close to options for food when travelling with young kids as well as noise factor. I try and read reviews to get a sense of hotel first. Can’t always trust the pictures…great blog!

Reply

Tara January 10, 2014, 12:09 AM

Definitely to California ! Great blog post, I hate the ‘extra’s’ added on as well when you get to the hotel.

Reply

Elaine Buonsante January 10, 2014, 1:11 AM

Definitely Quebec City!

Reply

Jenn January 10, 2014, 3:56 AM

I always ask if they have free parking & free wifi. Also late check out is great for us as our whole family likes to sleep in while on vacation.

Reply

Tammy Dalley January 10, 2014, 6:48 AM

Jasper, Alberta!

Reply

Sandy Avvari January 10, 2014, 6:50 AM

I always check for hotels with a pool. Great exercise for me but also a way to keep my nephews occupied if everyone is tired at the end of the day!

Reply

Anu Chopra January 10, 2014, 7:10 AM

I want to carry-on in Florida!

Reply

Kathy January 10, 2014, 7:43 AM

I always ask about early check-in and late check-out. Why not, just in case? Also request a room not too close to an elevator due to noise. And I like easy access to major attractions and shopping. And finally, never forget to ask if there are renovations scheduled during the planned stay, which can definitely interfere with a comfortable stay, or offer a discounted rate.

Reply

claudia Bate-Gonzalez January 10, 2014, 8:31 AM

I would love to take my daughter somewhere warm…Hawaii.

Reply

Anne-Marie Olmstead-Wilcox January 10, 2014, 8:36 AM

Hawaii

Reply

Ann January 10, 2014, 8:47 AM

I’d carry on in Vermont

Reply

caryn s January 10, 2014, 11:10 AM

I would love to take the kids to disneyland!

Reply

Claire Tucker January 10, 2014, 12:44 PM

The Italian lakes

Reply

Sofia January 10, 2014, 1:08 PM

Anywhere with a sandy beach, hot sun and the ocean!

Reply

Richard January 10, 2014, 2:07 PM

My main questions when booking a hotel are location and price.
I’d like to take my next trip to England.

Reply

Eve January 10, 2014, 5:24 PM

I ask if there is a swimming pool, if there are mini-fridges available, a nearby grocery store, and if there is anywhere to eat in safe walking distance (after a long day on the road, we may not want to do anything but walk to a cafe or restaurant).

Reply

Margaret January 10, 2014, 6:11 PM

The #1 question I ask hotels is if there is a fee to use the wi-fi.

Reply

Vickie Cheung January 10, 2014, 7:59 PM

I have a long list of what I wan but it all depends on the price as well but the main thin is that it have to be CLEAN. Most of the other things I can manage without… you get what you pay

Reply

Michelle H January 10, 2014, 10:55 PM

This is an awesome giveaway…and blog :)

Reply

Michelle H January 10, 2014, 10:57 PM

I forgot to answer your question :) I also ask if they have a pool before I book.

Reply

sdadolf January 10, 2014, 11:10 PM

I would like to take my wife to Hawaii.

Reply

Shawn January 11, 2014, 11:59 AM

Hi! The questions I usually ask are:
1. is the room smoke free
2. is continental breakfast included
3. how many people can stay in a room?
4. Do you have a microwave and minifridge?
5. Is an iron available?
6. Do you have extra cots or cribs available?
I have high expectations!

Reply

Leave a comment:

(Please note that you can bypass the location window by selecting “Submit” a second time after it appears. Thank you for your patience as we work to fix this issue.)