How to Avoid Eight Common Mistakes When Choosing a Hotel

How to Avoid Eight Common Mistakes When Choosing a Hotel

After months of saving, anticipation, and meticulous trip planning, having your long-awaited getaway marred by a poor hotel choice would be disheartening.

In this article, we share common pitfalls people encounter when choosing a hotel and offer practical tips to help you avoid them, ensuring your next vacation is truly a paradise.

ZenHotels Blog
6 minutes read


Mistake 1: Not checking the rate

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, an upcoming trip has to be canceled. To avoid further disappointment, always verify whether the room rate is refundable and what the free cancellation period is when booking a hotel.

When booking rooms on ZenHotels, you can easily check the cancellation policy by hovering the cursor over the “i” symbol.

Generally, flexibility comes at a cost: non-refundable rates tend to be slightly cheaper. If you opt for a room with free cancellation, set a reminder to ensure you don’t miss the deadline. This gives you time to reconsider the pros and cons.

Also, be mindful of the no-show fee. With some rates, you’ll be charged even if you chose to pay on arrival but failed to show up at the hotel on the scheduled day. Typically, this fee covers the cost of the first night’s stay.

In such cases, ZenHotel’s 24/7 multilingual customer support can contact the hotel to try to minimize your losses.

Mistake 2: Booking at the last moment

Booking the evening before or on the same day as your trip may seem tempting, but this strategy has drawbacks. In small towns, hotel options are limited, and the best rooms are likely already booked, leaving you with a modest selection.

While you may have heard stories of people snagging a 5-star hotel for the price of a 3-star by booking on the check-in day, it’s generally advisable to play it safe and book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. The peace of mind is often worth the slightly higher cost.

However, if your trip is spontaneous, and you’re open to the whims of fate, feel free to embrace the adventure and simply ignore this tip. Instead, consider reading our 15 cautionary tips for those planning a road trip.

Photo: Karlos Garciapons/ and Aunnop Suthumno / Unsplash.

Mistake 3: Not studying the map

Have any of us ever stayed in a “sea view” room where you had to be exceptionally resourceful and incredibly flexible just to catch a glimpse of that elusive strip of blue? 

If you don’t study the map of the area and read guests’ reviews about the hotel’s location beforehand, the consequences can be more than just missing the desired view. You might also end up dealing with road noise or facing a tough climb up a mountain to reach the hotel.

If you don’t study the map of the area and read guests’ reviews about the hotel’s location beforehand, the consequences can be more than just missing the desired view. You might also end up dealing with road noise or facing a tough climb up a mountain to reach the hotel.

To ensure a comfortable stay, it’s advisable to steer clear of areas with noisy bars, nightclubs, neighborhoods around railway stations, and industrial sites. Be wary of hotels that claim to be just a short walk from the vibrant city center, as the reality may be a longer and potentially unsafe walk through a questionable area. By investing just five minutes in studying the map, you can avoid disappointment and enjoy a hassle-free holiday.

ZenHotels convenient search filters can help you narrow down your options: specify your desired distance from the city center, preferred neighborhoods, a particular metro station, and nearby points of interest. For advanced users, the “ruler” tool makes it easy to figure out the exact route from the hotel to your destination.

Please refer to the detailed instructions on how to use the map for more information.

Mistake 4: Not comparing prices

It’s no secret that different hotel aggregators often offer different prices.

Additionally, loyal customers of booking services often take advantage of discounts and other perks to make their travel more budget-friendly.

Mistake 5: Forgetting about taxes and paid services

Upon closer inspection, mandatory fees may be added to a price that initially seemed quite reasonable. These can include a tourist tax, a city fee, or a cleaning fee.

If not included in your stay, expenses for breakfast, paid parking, Wi-Fi, or spa visits can quickly add up. For instance, adding $20 for breakfast and $150 for spa services can turn a $230 room into a $400 expense per person. It’s worthwhile to calculate these costs mentally – or better yet, in an Excel spreadsheet – to accurately budget for your trip and prepare for all potential expenses.

Mistake 6: Not reading reviews

When selecting a hotel, guest reviews are a crucial consideration. It’s essential to be diligent and scour multiple online platforms, including ZenHotels, Tripadvisor, and Google Maps, for feedback. Reviews provide a wealth of valuable insights, revealing details such as room soundproofing issues, the quality and variety of breakfast options, and other vital information that can make or break your stay.

Sometimes, the hotel entrance might not be immediately obvious — there might be no sign, or the information on Google Maps could be incorrect. Reading reviews can help you uncover these details and ensure you’re fully prepared.

However, it’s essential to approach reviews critically. Analyze the entire array of feedback to get an “average across the board” perspective. People tend to remember and share negative experiences more frequently, so balance their comments with the overall sentiment.

For more detailed tactics on reading reviews, refer to this article.

Mistake 7: Not considering room size

Neglecting to check the square footage of your room can lead to a cramped and uncomfortable stay. You’ll need to be particularly mindful of room size when booking a boutique or design hotel, where aesthetics may compromise on space. Take Venice, for instance, where many hotels offer tiny rooms that can barely fit a suitcase, let alone allow you to turn around. 

At times, rooms in historic centers can be tiny, attic-style broom closets. On the bright side, the attractions are conveniently close by! What a tough choice.

Everyone’s comfort threshold is different, but as a general rule, a room of at least 20m² for two people is recommended to avoid feeling claustrophobic. A standard 14m² double room, for example, can be challenging for a couple to move around freely and find space for their luggage. Families with young children will struggle in tiny rooms with no space for a child’s cot. Even spacious suites in grand palaces can come with surprises. Booking a room with high ceilings in a historic St. Petersburg building before the heating season may leave you freezing, so be sure to pack extra blankets.

Mistake 8: Not considering the type and category of the hotel

The wrong hotel type can quickly turn your dream trip into a nightmare. For instance, families with young children may find hostels unsuitable, while honeymooning couples may not appreciate toddler-friendly hotels. Similarly, loud beach accommodations may not be ideal for a trip with your grandmother.

You can find step-by-step guidance on finding your perfect hotel here.

When searching for accommodation options on ZenHotels, you can use filters to tailor your search to your needs, such as “family-friendly” or “accessible for guests with disabilities.”

Carefully choosing a hotel is crucial to ensuring a comfortable trip. We hope this article simplifies your travel preparations. Happy travels with ZenHotels!

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