If I ask you to imagine the perfect hotel your mind probably conjures up images of grand chandeliers, baby grand pianos and beauties feeding you grapes on the plush mattress of a hand carved canopy bed. Out the window a beautiful sunset begins to crest over the horizon of an unobstructed ocean view. The salty air touching your skin only briefly before being dabbed away from the damp, cool, mango scented towel. This sort of fantasy, multiple room palace probably exists for a price.
If I were to ask you to imagine the cheapest hotel what do you see? Flicking on the light switch, causes the roach herds to scurry toward cover in the putrid motel room. You pull back the sheets, which audibly crunch from whatever has hardened to their surface. Through the fitted sheet you can see the stains on the mattress, although their origin is unknown, the evidence manifested clearly lead you to believe these are bodily fluids of some kind. This kind of hotel certainly exists and the psycho running it would gladly accept your money.
When searching for a hotel I try to find some definite middle ground in these establishments. I do not need to check into a pretentious establishment where I am expected to tip every person substantially for doing unnecessary tasks. I am certain that if I lugged the bags of my entire family through the airport I’ll be fine taking them the next 50 yards or so. I do not need people looking down at me for staying in their hotel. At the same time I do have certain expectations in a hotel. I want a nice, clean place where I can lay my head every night. I will likely not spend much time in the hotel anyway. Basically for my family a hotel is a place to store our things, take our showers and sleep until the next day. So as long as the place is clean, quiet and comfortable I am fine. All other things beyond that are luxuries. Although having been updated in this millennium is a nice plus. If your hotel is still rocking a big tube TV I am going to be a bit put off.
Keeping this criteria in mind I try to find the most affordable option, but I try to keep away from the lowest price option. The last time I went with the lowest price option in an area was a few months ago. I booked a room in a Howard Johnson, that was supposed to be a 3 star (out of 5). It was a Hotwire hidden deal and cost about $40, which was very affordable for a 3 star hotel. I arrived at the hotel and there was a very sketchy looking couple at the counter. There was an old white Gateway Desktop in the lobby with a line 6 people deep waiting to use the computer. The “couple” at the counter turned out to be two guys and a girl (sans teeth) who were fine with just one King bed. I felt like I needed to shield my daughter’s eyes. Walking through the hall I really felt like I was surrounded by shady characters. This is not to say that money equals class by any stretch. However, when you book the cheapest hotel in the area, it’s also the cheapest hotel for everyone else in the area. So the guys scoring a three way with a tweaker are also booking that cheap room next door to your family.
I try to pick a moderate priced hotel with great reviews. If possible I try to get a 4 star hotel at a lower price using a site like Priceline or Hotwire. The problem with this method is that I have personally found that Priceline inflates the rating on some of their hotels. So you may book a 4 star hotel for $50 and be pumped, but then when the hotel is revealed it is an old Howard Johnson that might generously be awarded 2 stars. So you think you’re getting a room in a Hyatt or W and you are getting an overrated Ho Jo. There are websites that exist to help make better decisions on hotels and reveal which hotels are available in an area at the particular star rating that you seek.
Over the next week I will be sharing more information about the hotels I decide to book for our upcoming trip and I will likely give a review of whatever hotel is lucky enough to be chosen by me.