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Choosing a Hotel

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Choosing a Hotel

by Lorry Patton

If you stick to a chain hotel when you book a room, you can count on a certain look, a certain size and certain amenities. For example, a Hyatt will likely be a high-rise, with a large lobby and restaurants on the premises. Motel 6 usually has an outdoor entrance, is sparsely but functionally furnished and sometimes has a pool and offers HBO. Best Westerns (in North America) are slightly roomier then the average highway motel and usually have extras like coffee in the rooms and a restaurant close-by. (Note: Every Best Western in Europe's is unique and many are 5-star properties in heritage buildings.)

But, when it comes to unfamiliar properties, we should know what we are getting into, if only to wait with anticipation and excitement if the place sounds truly exotic. For example, in Korea my room was a cave with no windows and no doors. In Thailand my room was a treehouse with no bath and no ceiling. In Kenya my room was made of canvas and had a bath. In Japan my room was a large closet with no bath and no bed. In the United States my room was a railroad boxcar.

So have a pencil handy and go ahead and ask.

* What's the layout of the property? Does it sprawl across a wide landscaped lot or is it a high-rise surrounded by a concrete parking lot?

* How noisy is the location? Are excavators digging up the lot next door or is the sound broken with a rushing waterfall?

* What are the grounds like? Are they treed or flowered? Is there a inner plaza?

* What are its amenities? Are there any gifts shops inside? Places to eat? Is there a laundromat on the premises, swimming pool, a concierge?

* How far are the main attractions? Is there shuttle service to attractions?

* Who are the hotels regular guests? Business or family? Are there baby-sitting services? Are kids running around, or does it appeal more to seniors? Do the restaurants fill up with tour groups?

* Is there room service 24 hours a day?

* What is the room like? Is it furnished in darks or lights? Is there an hairdryer and an iron available? Does the fan turn on with the light in the bathroom? Does the air conditioner sound like a tractor when its on? Does the window open? Is there a patio? What does it face, a wall, a garden, or an ocean?

Atmosphere and amenities don't matter to those of us who don't spend more than five minutes in our rooms when we are on holidays. But to those of us who enjoy relaxing on a patio looking out at the gorgeous view of the bay, who enjoy a leisurely soak in a well-lit quiet bathroom, who like to sleep in or eat breakfast in bed, atmosphere and amenities are everything. So, don't be afraid to ask.