For your dream getaway, you only need the perfect hotel, but do you know how to find it amidst all the offers on the Internet? We’ll be your guide with 6 of our best tips, from the search to the booking of the perfect hotel:
1. Narrow your search
2. Compare reviews
3. Reality-check photos
4. Detailed comparison of your favourites
5. Pre-check hotel service
6. Cheapest booking
1. Narrow your search
First and foremost, you need to consider how much your holiday may cost, where to go, and whether you prefer a certain star category. With criteria to consider such as food, distance from the city centre or beach, availability of pool or spa, average review rating, and other points that are important to you in your hotel choice, you are bound to focus your search for the perfect hotel. Let’s say you are looking for a 4-star hotel in the Algarve, and after entering the criteria there are 20 hotels left. All hotels have a pool and half board, are located near the beach, and cost about the same amount.
2. Compare reviews
True, reviews can be faked. If a hotel has five reviews and all are totally positive, the hotel is either new and really great, or the hotel has commissioned someone to write positive reviews. On the other hand, if a hotel has received 600 reviews and a 97% referral rate on Holidaycheck or TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Award, this is most likely a truly recommended hotel, and comes very close to your perfect pick. No hotel has enough time or money to manipulate so many reviews. Conversely, this also means that a hotel with 600 ratings and only 50% recommendation rate is probably not worth considering.
Now, again, you’ve sorted out a few hotels to find the perfect candidate, and it’s worth it to peruse a couple reviews. I always take two or three of the latest best, and a few of the worst reviews. Sometimes the bad reviews come from guests you just can’t please. If the hotel otherwise has great reviews and one writes “total dump”, don’t take such comments too seriously. If, however, guests write again and again “the pool is too cold”, then the pool probably really is too cold. If you can live with this shortcoming, and if otherwise everything matches your criteria, nothing speaks against the hotel. If hoteliers respond to criticism on the rating platforms and actually address the malady, this is a good sign that the hotel really cares about the well-being of its guests. You’re one step closer to the perfect hotel.
3. Reality-check photos
Let’s say you have three hotels left in your search for the perfect hotel in the Algarve. All have fantastic photos. But are these still up to date? Do they even correspond to reality? One of the hotels, secretly your favourite, has no photos of the beach. This can have many reasons: the hotel might have no money for the photographer, the day of the shoot may have been cloudy, none of the hotel staff have noticed their lack of beach photos… or the hotel doesn’t have a beach, or doesn’t take care of it. How do you find out? Many guests will upload their own photos of the hotel to Holidaycheck and Tripadvisor. From the beach to the chipped tiles in the bathroom, every square inch of a hotel is documented. So, if the holiday photos are very close to the “beautiful” photos from the official hotel website, you won’t be in for a surprise. Another tip is to search the hotel on Instagram. You can often find photos of hotel guests under the respective hashtag. If these pictures meet your standards of the perfect hotel, you can decide.
4. Not all stars are created equal
Let’s stay with our example. You chucked one of the top three hotels in the Algarve, because the room photos were ancient, and you found out by the reality check that the rooms are totally worn. But now you can’t decide between the other two. Neither differ significantly in terms of price, and both offer similar amenities – one would think – because four stars are four stars. Within a hotel category, the differences can still be quite large. Look closely: Are freshly squeezed juices included at breakfast? Does the evening buffet offer enough variety for vegans? Can I request hypoallergenic bed linen if necessary? If you’re not picky, such subtleties might not matter. For others, health concerns may mean they require more from a hotel, or they might simply maintain a certain lifestyle that can’t or shouldn’t be interrupted by a holiday. Or, you want to try something new. Or, or, or. Here, it becomes crystal clear what you can’t do without. This makes finding the perfect hotel easier at this stage.
5. Contact your perfect hotel
Suppose you’ve found a favourite. The only thing keeping you from celebrating finding the perfect hotel is wondering whether there is soy milk available at the breakfast buffet. If you can’t eat your cereal with soy milk, the world might end, and, of course, that can’t happen at the hotel. Or perhaps you really want to iron your clothes in the hotel room, and can’t find information about iron availability. Or you might want to know if the hotel safe is big enough to secure your laptop. Have you had no luck finding out even after your extensive research on the Internet? Call or write to the hotel. The easiest way is to send a message on Facebook (assuming it has a Facebook page). If the hotel does not respond to your email or Facebook message after several days, the hotel is either closed (renovation, seasonal closure) or it is simply completely disorganised, which is not a good sign. A hotel that does not care about the concerns of its potential guests is a hotel that may also be unreliable or neglectful after you arrive.
6. Where to book?
The hotel has contacted you, and thankfully, there is soy milk for breakfast. You’ve found the perfect hotel. Congrats! But where to book? There are as many comparison websites as grains of sand on the beach. We should distinguish two cases: the package tour and the hotel-only booking.
6.1 Holiday Package
If you book a holiday package, the price differences can be pretty big, with seemingly the same performance. Maybe with Vendor X, the trip with the same date, departure airport, and room category is cheaper than with Vendor Y. Maybe with Vendor Y, the train-to-flight ticket is included, you get more baggage allowance in the plane, and they offer you an onsite contact person in the hotel. Vendor Z is the cheapest, because the flights are at an ungodly hour, and there is no transfer to the hotel. Depending on your needs, it may make sense to choose the more expensive provider, if there are certain extras included which would be more expensive without the package deal. It should not be underestimated that a large tour operator can react more flexibly if the worst occurs – a natural disaster breaks out on site, the airline goes bankrupt, or your perfect hotel, which you have labouriously selected, suffers some calamity and you have to be rebooked. Don’t worry, all these things are quite rare. But if it does happen, you’ll be glad you spent a few extra euros on your trip to the perfect hotel.
6.2 Hotel-Only Booking
If you want to book the hotel only, there are essentially two possibilities: via well-known hotel-booking websites, or directly through the hotel. Of course, it is more convenient to book via known platforms if you already have a user account there. Sometimes, however, the platforms will show you other or fewer rooms than the hotel’s own website. That’s because the hotels do not share all their rooms with agents. This means that if the hotel is fully booked on Platform XY, it may still be available on other websites. This platform’s quota is simply exhausted. Why do hotels do this? The hotels have to pay a commission for placement on online booking platforms. Although advertising platforms advertise that their price is the lowest (which doesn’t have to be true), it’s worth taking a look at the hotel website, which is interested in getting direct bookings without deducting a commission. Hotels then tempt with goodies such as “free WiFi in your room”, “one day bike rental for free”, or similar offers for direct bookings. Many airlines make it so that special food options (such as vegan dishes) are only complimentary through direct booking. If you book through the (often cheaper) third-party platforms, you’ll be fed the standard in-flight meal. If your preferred hotel does not offer online booking, you can alternatively call or write an email to book your perfect hotel.
So now, I hope you’ve found the perfect hotel. If you really are looking for a four-star hotel in the Algarve, which has a pool, beach, and vegan breakfast, check out the TUI BLUE Falesia. At the moment, there are big discounts of up to 55% off.
Do you know the ultimate tips for finding the perfect hotel?