Some people believe that these days, thanks to the Internet’s efficiency, all it takes to book an accommodation, is just you logging into booking.com, Airbnb.com or any other online accommodation booking website, writing your location and voilà …a list comes up with all the possible options. I dare to disagree as talking from experience, booking an accommodation can be a bit of headache but maybe that’s just me and my everything-must-be-perfect-when-going-abroad obsession. Anyway, so today, considering the holiday season is coming up, I have decided to give you some tips you may need to keep in mind before pressing that “Confirm booking” button.
What I suggest, whilst surfing websites such as booking.com, is that you open a tab on Google Maps and you constantly switch between them, as to get an idea where the accommodation you’re looking at is located. Sometimes you may be surprised by how cheap an accommodation is only to realise, later, that it is located far away from the city centre. Most obviously, I am suggesting that you find an accommodation in the city centre since you’ll get to be as close as possible to the major attractions and thus, you would avoid having to spend loads of time travelling to and fro between attractions.
2. Metro stations/ Train stations close by
This next point goes hand in hand with the previous one; finding a good location also means that you keep in mind how accessible this location is. In the accommodation’s description, there is usually some information on whether there are any metro stations or train stations close by and if so, how long your walk would be to reach them. But when there isn’t, I suggest you contact the property itself, rely on some Trip-advisor’s comments by other travellers or otherwise use the magical capabilities of Google Maps.
3. Proximity to your airport
This only applies for those reaching a particular city by a plane, all others travelling over-land or by any other mode of transport can skip to no.4.(You’re right, I didn’t have to tell you that!) Also, this is more important when travelling to cities that have more than 1 possible airport (like London or Rome, for instance). Knowing how close your airport is to your accommodation can help you decide which mode of transport would be ideal to use to reach your hotel/apartment; whether a taxi, a bus or maybe a metro/train. This information, once again, can be acquired easily via Google Maps, if not provided elsewhere.
4. Free cancellation?
With web-sites such as booking.com, several accommodations would offer you the option to pay a little more as to have free cancellation. By ‘free cancellation’, I mean that you would not need to pay a cancellation fee should anything happen that would lead you to cancel your trip. Mind you, if you are planning to cancel the booking the night before you’re supposed to fly, don’t expect to get it for free…many accommodations offer a free cancellation only if you cancel a week or a few days before. However, I would still recommend choosing this option because it would give you peace of mind knowing that you won’t have to pay extra.
5. Free wi-fi?
Speaking of free, if you are planning to update your social media followers of your amazing trip abroad, every instant that you get, then be sure to not take things for granted and instead, check whether your accommodation offers a wi-fi service in the first place, and whether it will be for free or not. Also, take note that some hotels offer wi-fi only in some parts of the hotel; for instance, only in the lobby rather than in all the rooms.
6. Payment method
It would be safe to say that the “Proceed to payment” part is the part most people dread when it comes to booking an accommodation, probably because they have been deceived in the past or because they simply don’t trust non-traditional payment methods at all. However, if you inform yourself beforehand how things are going to work out, it would make you feel less tensed (I hope!) Many accommodations offer an insight on whether they would take your money straight away after booking; whether they would take just a small deposit and you pay the rest once you arrive; or otherwise whether you would need to pay everything at the reception desk. This information is not normally provided in the first line of the accommodation’s description but rather in the “Terms & Conditions” section or something like that, so make sure to be careful as to avoid any disappointments later.
7. What is included in the price and what NOT?
Prior to booking an accommodation, you should also confirm what is included and what is excluded in the sum you’ll be paying. For instance, city tax (per night) and cleaning fees are normally not included in the price, so be sure to read their “Terms & Conditions”. Also, if not indicated clearly, do check if breakfast is included in your price as to avoid any misunderstandings.
8. Sharing facilities with other guests?
This is especially for all those who are looking at budget accommodations since it is sometimes the case that you’ll come across super cheap accommodations and then realising later the reason why they’re cheap. Yep, you would be either sleeping in a dormitory or otherwise you would have to share the same shower/toilet with the other guests. I am by no means implying that this is wrong; rather it would be ideal for anyone seeking to go on a totally budget holiday. However, privacy is always privacy, at the end of the day.
9. Time of check-in and check-out at your accommodation
Another important thing to consider is the time of check-in and check-out the hotel/apartment is providing you with. The reason why I thought this point is worth-mentioning is because, sometimes, your flight details (both of arrival and departure) may not agree with their advised times. Consequently, in some situations, you may be required to pay extra if you do not abide by their suggested time slots. Hence, it would be ideal if you informed your accommodation about this before arriving there, as to avoid any future problems.
10. Other travellers’ reviews
Ultimately, regardless of how biased reviews and ratings might be, it would not hurt anyone if you had a look at some of them to confirm that you’re making the right choice and that you are not being deceived in any way. My final suggestion is to always prioritize hotels/ apartments in which your relatives/ friends have previously resided in because let’s face it…what option would be safer than that?
Happy travelling this holiday season …and always stay safe!