Helpful Tips For Hotel Stays

by Paul Konrardy

Helpful Tips For Hotel Stays

Staying in a hotel, motel, hostel or B&B on your next vacation? Here are a few handy tips.

Making Reservations

Make your preferences clear over the phone when booking your room.

  • Number and size of beds
  • High floor or low floor
  • Smoking/nonsmoking
  • View options – city view, ocean view, beachfront, riverfront, etc.
  • Handicap accessibility
  • In-room refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker
  • Internet (WiFi) capability
  • Pool and/or exercise room
  • Restaurant or café

For more peace and quiet, consider a room

  • Away from the elevator and the stairs (no doors or dings…)
  • Away from the ice and vending machines
  • Away from the hotel gym/pool/recreation area (lots of doors opening and closing)
  • Away from the bar/restaurant
  • Away from hotel construction

Ask about security measures.

  • Are individual rooms accessed from the outside, i.e., parking lot or from inside the hotel?
  • Are keycards needed to enter the hotel after certain hours?
  • Does the room come with a safe? If so, what are the dimension? (Useful to know so you can gauge if it can accommodate your laptop or other electronics plus other valuables you’d like to lock up (jewelry, cell phone, money, passports, credit cards).
  • No or too-small safe? Ask to keep your most important items (passport, airplane tickets) with the concierge – they usually have a larger safe just for guests.

Ask about discounts and special deals.

  • Inquire about membership or age discounts (AARP or AAA, or special rates for those over 50, for example)
  • Ask if there are specials based on the length of stay— stay five nights – get the sixth free
  • Ask if children under a certain age can stay for free
  • Ask if continental breakfast is included in the room fee

Ask about extra fees.

  • Ask about check-in and check-out procedures, and extra fees if you stay past check-out time.
  • Ask about tipping policies. Some hotels (all-inclusives) include tips in services and request that you NOT tip. If you’re at an all-inclusive – ask how much of a tip is included in the fixed price (10-15%). You may want to tip more. It’s usually at your discretion, but it’s good to know.

WHN TIP – Tipping Tips: If staff are helpful or friendly, tip them where appropriate. If not, let management know. Don’t be shy – most management want your stay to be the best they can make it.

Ask about amenities and services.

  • Airport shuttles: What is the availability and timeframes? Can you have a specified pickup or departure time.
  • Parking: Is it free or for a fee? If needed, is there valet service?
  • Pets: Are pets allowed? If so, are there any restrictions on the type of size of pet? Is there a dog park or space where you can walk your pet?
  • Office services: Does the hotel have a business center with needed equipment: fax, photocopier, shipping services)?
  • Personal services: Does the hotel offer dry cleaning or room service?

Ask the person to repeat the booking arrangements and any specifications when you have finished making arrangements.

Be sure to get a confirmation number and ask to have the reservation confirmation emailed or texted to you.

Confirm your reservations a week before you arrive. Mistakes can be made and your reservations might have been changed or not even entered.

Upon Arrival

WHN TIP — Checking In: Call if you’re going to be late, even if it’s only ten minutes late. Why? Because if the hotel is busy they might give your room to someone else!

When you arrive, have your list of preferences available and compare to the room you have been assigned. If there is a problem, ask about making a room switch before you start unpacking.

WHN TIP — Switching Rooms: If you need to switch rooms, have the hotel manager (or whomever) take you around to show you the options. Don’t take your luggage with you when you do this. Make your choice to move (or stay where you are) and THEN have them move your luggage.

Take theft prevention measures.

  • Lock your luggage once you’ve arrived at your hotel. Use sturdy locks either with a key or combination.
  • Don’t put the Maid Service tag on your door if you won’t be there. It alerts burglars to an empty room.
  • Leave the TV or radio on while you’re gone. People will think you’re in the room.
  • Don’t prop doors open while moving in and out of the hotel room – it could be an invitation to trouble!

Follow security strategies.

  • Locate exit signs, fire stairs, fire extinguishers and pull fire alarms on your floor.
  • Read the emergency exit plan in your hotel room (usually located on the back of the main door).
  • Always pack a flashlight or use the flashlight app on your phone in case the power goes out and you need to find your way.
  • If the alarm sounds, exit immediately. The alarm sounds for a reason.

Concierge Services

Need directions? Reservations? A certain service? Transportation arrangements? Ask a concierge.

A concierge is a hotel employee who assists you and meets any and all of your requests. Don’t hesitate to ask them for assistance. It is their job to be there for you and treat you as an honored guest.

You can also use a concierge service even when you’re not traveling. To locate a concierge service nearest you, visit the National Concierge Association’s website.

Photo Credit: davidlee770924

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