Choosing a hotel may not be of the utmost importance to everyone but for me the right accommodation can really make or break as holiday. Of course your hotel priorities will be different depending on the destination but in this post I aim to give you some overall guidelines to select your hotel and avoid disappointment. Read on to find out how to choose the perfect luxury hotel for you!
Budget is often the determining factor in choosing the right hotel for you especially as it’ll take a huge chunk out of your holiday spending. Once your budget for the trip is determined consider how much you might want to allocate to the hotel. Would you prefer to spend a little less in order to spend more on activities, travel and dining out? Or is spending on a luxury hotel the top priority.
If you do choose to spend on the hotel, which category of room will be in your budget? On a city break Mr S and I often chose a lower category room as we know we’ll be exploring and out and about so we won’t use the room so much. This does depend on the destination and the value for money offered – for example at Hotel Arts Barcelona a huge Club Room Suite fitted our budget whereas by contrast the Four Seasons Florence cost about the same for a much smaller room. Both are top hotels in their respective city but it happens that Italy is much more expensive than Spain in general.
For a beach or resort break, Mr S and I might splurge a little more on the room as we know that we’ll be spending more time there than if we were in the middle of a city. In a place like Bali we would usually go for a villa with a pool as we know food and activities will cost less there anyway. It’s all about balancing up the options and knowing what’s going to suit you best.
Also remember to check offers on the website or other deal sites. Is can be less expensive if you pay up front, go off-season or mid-week. Check out this post on how to travel in luxury for less.
The next step is determining the location of your hotel. Choosing the location may be a necessity – you need to be close to the airport or a wedding venue – but most likely the location will be based on personal preference.
If it’s a city break do you want to be in the hub of town or would you prefer a quiet more neighbourhood area. Do you want restaurants, bars and shops right on your door step or would you rather have some quiet?
If it’s a break that combines city and beach what’s your preference? Or maybe you want to do both? In Barcelona we wanted to be right on the beach whereas in Melbourne we opted for the city. Will you be hiring a car? How easy is it to get public transport? Is the city walkable? All important to consider when you’re determining location. In a huge city like New York or Toyko what neighbourhood will be right for you?
Similarly on a beach break or in a resort what are you looking for? Do you want the resort to be on a public beach so that it’s lively with lots of restaurants. Or a private beach so it’s quiet and peaceful. Or would you prefer to be on a cliff top? How important is it to have a good view? Do you want to be close by to the hub of the resort or will this be too touristy?
I always check a hotel location on Google Maps before I book it to check the location and see what else is nearby. I also always check how far an hotel is from the airport especially if I’m paying for a transfer. Of course you don’t want to be too close to the airport but you also don’t want to be three hours away unless the hotel is really special and worth making that trip.
We all know what style we prefer and what suits us best. If luxury travel is your style, like me you may choose a classic luxury hotel, a boutique hotel or a design hotel. Do you prefer branded luxury or independent. I like all of these styles as for me the most important thing is a sense of place as some luxury hotels are so generic you could be anywhere.
A classic luxury hotel will usually provide the absolute best service so that may be your priority. A boutique hotel may have more personal touches and be more intimate or homely whereas a design hotel is often unique in style and architecture.
There are particular hotels brands that I love as they prioritise the sense of place and often offer experiences unique to that location. Four Seasons, Rosewood, Belmond and Aman are all big international brands that offer a bespoke and personalised experience. I also love Singita, AndBeyond, Six Senses which are smaller hotel groups that always deliver.
If I opt for an independent hotel, I personally prefer those that make you feel like part of the family and that have a very distinct character and style. All of these types of hotel offer the attention to detail, personal service and bespoke service that I prize in a hotel.
Particular amenities are vital for some people (I mean Mr S would kill me if I booked a city hotel without a pool) so make sure you double check the website to ensure that your accommodation has everything that you need. Personally I love a spa and hair salon, Wi-fi is vital for my dad who is a computer programmer, my sister has to have child friendly facilities and a kids club, my mum wants a good quality restaurant and breakfast in the hotel.
If you’re there for business travel you may require your hotel to include everything especially meeting space, is the a phone in the room and a fridge? Do they have a gym? Is there a car park? 24 hour reception? Can you get a club room? A VIP concierge? Is there laundry service? We’ve even been to hotels that provide with your own car to get around.
Different amenities are vital for different people so make sure to double check that it’s right for you. If there are two hotels that both same perfect in every way, does one have a particular amenity that makes it stand out or a unique selling point.
I previously wrote a post on how I do all my research for luxury travel, some of my favourite websites for finding hotels include The Kiwi Collection, Mr & Mrs Smith, Conde Nast Traveller, Forbes and Travel & Leisure. I find their expert ranking lists incredibly valuable when making my hotel choices. Please also refer to my post on the ultimate list of luxury travel resources for my favourite places to research both on and offline including some of the best blogs for luxury travel advice.
6. Quality Control
Even if a hotel is five star, that’s actually no guarantee of quality. Trust me, I’ve booked hotels that appear to have all the five star bells and whistles and look amazing from the website but I’ve turned up and been disappointed by shabby rooms, poor service and terrible food. It’s quite a rarity as I’m very careful with my research and quality control check.
One thing that you can guarantee with luxury branded hotels is consistency. Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and Rosewood adhere to strict guidelines so that standards of hospitality and service are always adhered. You’ll always find these hotels to be well-maintained and looked after too.
Variety is the spice of life so instead of opting for the safety of branded hotels you may want to choose a hotel that has been handpicked for a certain collection. Groups such as Mr & Mrs Smith, The Luxury Collection and Small Luxury Hotels all careful vet the hotels that go in their collections for quality and originality.
Go for trusted recommendations from bloggers, Instagrammers and friends. If you know you have the same taste, expectations and requirements as a particular person it’s likely you’ll like the same hotels. As well as checking on blogs, search for the hotel on YouTube, a video made by someone who isn’t affiliated to the hotel can show hidden problems that don’t appear anywhere else.
Check reviews – I like The Telegraph, for honest reviews. I also look at luxury travel forums – a great one is FlyerTalk, if you are a seasoned luxury traveller and have extremely high expectations this is a good one for you.
My last port of call – love it or hate it – is TripAdvisor. Honestly I could and probably will write a whole separate post on Tripadvisor. It’s an incredibly useful tool but you need to know how to read between the lines and use it to get the information that you want. Checking the traveller photos on Tripadvisor in particular can give you insight into what a hotel room actually looks like without all the gloss that you’ll see in the hotel’s professional pictures.
That’s my guide on how to choose the perfect luxury hotel for you. Do you have an further tips? I’d love to know in the comments!
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