Today there are so many options when trying to choose a hotel that it can get downright overwhelming. The best sites to use to compare prices and availabilities are Trip Advisor and Trivago. You have the ability to create a search criteria with filters since we all have different priorities when booking a room. It’s also best to know some of the attractions you plan to go to and book a hotel near those (refer to your itinerary). All hotel search sites have an option to look at where the hotel is on a map. These maps also provide points of interest for better decision-making on your part. I use the map more than anything. Also review all the photos and read all the reviews. There will usually be positive and negative reviews. Look at the negative reviews. If they are deal breakers, look elsewhere.
If you are driving, it’s best to find a place with parking on site. Not all hotels have free parking, but some have off-site and on-site availability with a fee. My advice is to go for on-site parking. I promise, it may cost a little in some situations, but you’ll have peace of mind to have on-site parking.
Another thought is air conditioning and heat. Don’t assume hotels have them. In some countries air conditioning is not really a “thing” and no one thinks anything of it. It’s important to be comfortable in your room, especially while sleeping, so make sure your hotel has a proper temperature controlled environment.
Our past trip to Belgium and France was in the beginning of the summer and there was a heat wave going on. I mean, it was HOT. Even the weather forecast was supposed to be mild, not blazing hot. For this reason, we didn’t bother to research which hotels had air conditioning and which did not. While in Brussels, our hotel’s air conditioning was broken and it was truly unbearable. We had to move to a different hotel. Into France we mostly stayed at Airbnb’s, so more about that later. By the end of our trip we stayed at a hotel with air conditioning and we were absolutely ecstatic. It’s incredible what we take for granted.
If the hotel includes breakfast (even for a nominal fee), take it. More often than not, we have a packed day of sightseeing to do and may not get a chance to fuel our day with a decent breakfast unless it’s on our way out the door. On a few occasions we have resorted to buying a package of croissants and eating them in the parking lot of the castle we were going to visit. An hour later you start to get “hangry” and not enjoy the rest of your day until you gorge yourself on french fries and beer. No one wants to have to find a place to get breakfast because a full day is usually already planned and none of us want to waste time. Most hotels have a breakfast option and it’s the same pretty much anywhere you go (outside the US); fruits, cheeses, meats, croissants, muffins, coffee, juices. It’s decent fuel to start the day and it usually costs around $8-$10USD.
Some people love the idea of a quaint or boutique city hotel. Just remember that sometimes quaint or boutique hotels do not have lifts, so you’ll be walking your luggage up the stairs. If you have any questions, most hotels can be reached via toll-free number or email.
If you have a flight or train, etc. that gets into your destination city too early for you to check-in, what do you do with your stuff? Same goes for if your flight/train is later in the evening and you still want to see the sights after check-out. You won’t want to pull your luggage around with you all day while sightseeing, so make sure your hotel has luggage storage options. Most hotels will provide this feature under their amenities. It’s also a good idea to email or call the hotel to confirm that they have luggage storage. Some international flights from the US arrive the next day, and usually quite early. When this is the case we always get a hotel for that night and not a home share just so we can store our luggage. Most home shares will not store your luggage or only accommodate by request.