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14 Things a Hotel Concierge Can Do for You (And 6 Things They Can’t)

Few travelers think to contact the hotel concierge for much more than directions or restaurant recommendations—but if you don’t, you’re missing out on a wealth of local expertise. A good hotel concierge has impressive powers and can assist with almost any travel problem you might face, so you shouldn’t be afraid to take advantage.[st_content_ad]

That said, a concierge is not a magician. Below are 14 things your hotel concierge can do for you, six more they can’t, and four tips for maximizing your moments at the hotel lobby.

What a Hotel Concierge Can Do for You

Save You Money

The concierge can tell you how to get to the airport for less, where to find nearby happy hours, what the best free sights and activities are, and how much is a fair price for a taxi.

Recommend Fitness Facilities

If your hotel doesn’t have a gym or lacks the equipment you want, the concierge can usually point you to an affiliated hotel with better facilities, recommend a good running trail, or give you a list of nearby fitness centers that offer daily or weekly passes.

Get You a Ride When There Seems to Be None Available

If it is rush hour, raining, or really late, finding a taxi or Uber ride can be tough. The concierge can make this happen with a phone call in many cases. This can even work if you’re not staying at the hotel in question. I once saw a friend walk into the lobby of a New York hotel and offer the concierge a tip; within seconds, we had a ride.

Get Tickets for You

Many concierges are careful to say they can’t get tickets for sold-out shows, but the truth is they sometimes can. They may have relationships with brokers, or know season ticket holders who may not be using their seats, or even have tickets themselves; Michael Fazio, author of Concierge Confidential, started to purchase tickets to certain shows that he would then sell to guests, usually at a markup that matched the secondary market.

Keep You Safe

A concierge can offer advice on whether a neighborhood, park, or activity is safe to visit, and what you can do instead if your idea is iffy.

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Help You Celebrate

Are you proposing to your partner or celebrating a landmark birthday? Your hotel concierge can help with anything from filling your hotel room with flowers and balloons to organizing a rooftop proposal, complete with a photographer to document the occasion.

Help You Do Your Job

A concierge can assist with all kinds of work-related tasks, such as getting materials to a printer, setting up a courier service, mailing packages, and setting up a meeting space.

Help You Look Good

A concierge can get you an appointment with a barber or hairdresser, get clothes pressed, and more.

Fix Sticky Travel Problems

A concierge can help you find an expeditor or make an embassy appointment if your passport is stolen, or facilitate repairs if your smartphone goes on the fritz. They can also accept overnight mail or late-arriving luggage.

Get You a Table

Restaurants will often find a way to fit in customers who are recommended by their preferred concierge contacts. If the restaurant is truly full, the concierge can often get you to the front of a waiting list.

Recommend Local Service Folks

Need a babysitter, an auto repair shop, or a dog walker? Your concierge can help.

Create a Custom Itinerary

If you have a bunch of stuff you definitely want to do but are uncertain how to make it all fit together, the concierge can take your list of attractions and put together a coherent and achievable plan. He or she can also help you avoid pitfalls such as road construction or closed subway stations.

Help with Special Needs

If you are disabled, aren’t feeling well, or have other special needs, a hotel concierge can offer considerable assistance—like calling wheelchair-accessible taxis, finding English-speaking doctors, and recommending restaurants that can accommodate certain food allergies.

Provide Assistance Before You Arrive

The concierge can be a resource not just once you’re at the hotel but beforehand as well. For instance, he or she could help you plan out your first day, including a restaurant reservation for dinner.

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What Your Hotel Concierge Can’t Do for You

Gossip

Discretion is an integral part of a concierge’s job, so they tend not to talk about other guests, including which celebrities might be staying in the hotel.

Illegal or Immoral Activities

You shouldn’t expose a concierge to risk by asking him or her to help with illegal—or dubiously legal—activities such as obtaining drugs, forging signatures, finding “companions,” or the like.

Babysit

A concierge can help you find someone else to look after your child, but he or she can’t actually do the babysitting while on duty.

Float You a Loan

They’ll help you with money concerns, but concierges are not banks; don’t ask them to dig into their pockets for you.

Sell Stuff for You

Concierges are also not your personal eBay or Craigslist; they can’t sell tickets you no longer need or items you don’t want to take home. However, he or she may be able to recommend a place where you can do the sale yourself.

Book Tickets to Sold-Out Shows

Truly sold-out shows tend to be just that; however, you can ask if the concierge has any ideas or contacts to help get you tickets, and he or she might have a strategy for you. If there is truly no way to get certain tickets, the concierge will tell you so.

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Tips for Using a Hotel Concierge

Don’t Be Shy

You might feel as though the concierge is only there for the folks in the penthouse suite, but this isn’t the case; he or she is there to help all guests, so feel free to ask.

Give Them Some Time

Concierges can often pull off difficult tasks, but to do so on very short notice is tricky, and it distracts them from helping other guests. Give the concierge some notice if you need something beyond simple advice.

Present the Concierge’s Card

When a concierge sends you to a restaurant or other establishment, it is often his or her name, not yours, that is the attraction for the proprietor. So if a concierge asks you to show his or her card, do it; these relationships are what makes concierges able to help you now and in the future.

Not All Concierges Are the Same

Concierges at the very best (and most expensive) hotels are notorious for pulling off near-miracles; those at less prestigious establishments typically don’t have the same pull.

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Ed Hewitt is a seasoned globetrotter who brings you a biweekly glimpse into the latest travel news, views, and trends—and how they could affect your travel plans.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated with the latest information.

Categories
Health & Wellness

These Cities and States Have the Cleanest Hotels, According to AAA

AAA has over 27,000 inspected and approved hotels in its network. For over 80 years, the company performs in-person inspections of these properties and also come up with the “Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping” rankings. Since cleanliness is often top of mind for travelers when booking hotels, this list is especially useful. In order to qualify, properties must rank high in excellence for housekeeping two years in a row in their inspection and have no AAA member complaints. The federation notes that only about 25 percent of the 27,000 AAA Inspected & Approved properties get this ranking

View the full report release information, here.

States with the Most AAA Inspector’s Best of Housekeeping Hotels

  1. California (982)
  2. Florida (485)
  3. Texas (468)
  4. North Carolina (458)
  5. New York (406)
  6. Virginia (328)
  7. Pennsylvania (281)
  8. Tennessee (268)
  9. Maryland (238)
  10. Massachusetts (215)

Cities with the Most AAA Inspector’s Best of Housekeeping Hotels

  1. New York, New York (161)
  2. Houston, Texas (90)
  3. Washington, D.C. (78)
  4. Orlando, Florida (69)
  5. Charlotte, North Carolina (68)
  6. Austin, Texas (63)
  7. Nashville, Tennessee (61)
  8. San Diego, California (60)
  9. Anaheim, California (50)
  10. San Antonio, Texas (49)

Where does your state or city rank?

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Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

Categories
Booking Strategy Budget Travel

Where to Stay in Germany: Lodging Tips You Need to Know

With so many tempting possibilities, deciding where to stay in Germany can turn into a dilemma. Should you choose ultra-modern hotels or charm-filled historic properties? Should you dream away your nights at country inns, fairytale castles, or pampering spa resorts? Even if you’re on a budget, Germany’s lodging options include hotels, B&Bs, and hostels that are among Europe’s very best. Or, for a change of pace, you can spend a few days on a farm or a countryside vineyard. Can’t choose? The best plan may be to mix and match as you travel through the country, sampling some of Germany’s best accommodations.

Traditional Hotels in Germany

Germany uses the international rating system of stars for hotels, from modest one-stars to five-star luxury. In one- and two-star hotels, you’ll find smaller rooms and perhaps shared bathrooms. From three stars up, hotels will have an on-site restaurant, luggage service, private bathrooms, and a reception desk that stays open at least 12 hours of each day. At four- and five-star hotels, you’ll enjoy room service and plenty of amenities, including robes and washcloths.

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German lodging standards are very high, and you can generally expect clean and comfortable rooms with breakfast included. Better hotels may serve a lavish morning buffet that includes eggs, meats, yogurt, fruits, and cheese. Many hotels in all price ranges have Wi-Fi, though sometimes for a fee.

Europeans still tend to smoke more cigarettes than Americans do, so if you’re sensitive to smoke, it’s worth requesting a nonsmoking room or floor when you make your reservation. Be aware that in a climate where air-conditioning is seldom necessary, many older hotels may not have it. If you are planning a summer trip, be sure to check.

Keep a copy of your reservation confirmation with you to make sure the promised rate is honored. Always check hotel sites directly for specials and deals, such as low weekend rates in cities when business travelers go home. During major events like Munich’s Oktoberfest or the Frankfurt Book Fair, rooms are scarce and rates can double or even triple. You can also find great deals on Germany hotels via TripAdvisor (SmarterTravel’s parent company) and Hotels.com.

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Germany’s Romantik Hotels

While star ratings tell you about amenities, they do not measure charm, and many older European hotels have great appeal. Among the most enjoyable places to stay in Germany are the aptly named Romantik Hotels, found in Germany’s major cities as well as in its smaller towns. The hotels in this group are all in historic buildings and owner-managed.

Another romantic experience is to choose a schlosshotel, or castle converted into a hotel. Germany has more of these special accommodations than anywhere else in Europe. You can find many of them listed at TripAdvisor, and at a site called Castle and Palace Hotels.

Note that some of Germany’s older hotels do not have elevators, so if stairs are a problem for you, make sure to request a room on the ground floor.

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Germany’s Country Hotels

The German countryside has so much beauty and so many attractions that it is well worth your time to plan part of your itinerary in Germany away from the cities. This will give you the chance to experience delightful places to stay such as gasthofs and gasthauses, atmospheric country inns that also serve good local food.

For a different experience, spend time at a countryside bauernhof, a farm that offers rooms for travelers. These are great fun for families, especially for city dwellers. You can also stay amid scenic vineyards at a winzerhof, a winery guesthouse. A site called LandReise is an excellent source for these types of lodgings (though it’s only in German; use the Chrome browser for translation). Bavaria alone boasts more than 1,000 farmstay listings, along with its own association and website to help find them: Farm-Holidays.com.

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Germany’s Spa Hotels

Ever since Roman times, visitors have been coming to Germany to “take the waters” in health spas surrounded by hot mineral springs said to have healing properties. “Bad” means bath, and hotels in cities such as Bad Reichenhall, Wiesbaden, and chic Baden-Baden share access to the coveted spa waters. Many of these cities also have diversions like casinos and fine eateries. Hotels vary from modest to super-luxurious. Check listings in each town to make your choice, as well as Booking.com.

Germany’s Budget Hotels, B&Bs, and Homestays

For those who are looking for a well-priced hotel in Germany, booking services like Expedia and Hotels.com offer good values in all price categories. Another good source is Best Western. The chain’s listings in Europe are not motels as they are in some parts of the U.S., but rather small hotels that have been inspected and are reliable. If you’re willing to stay outside the city center and take public transportation to get around, you can often find lower rates in better hotels. Just be sure that quick connections are near the hotel.

Germany has its full share of economical bed and breakfast choices, as well. B&Bs, also known as pensions, may be small hotels, but most often, they’re private homes with live-in hosts. They are a far more personal experience than staying in a hotel. The best way to find listings is by contacting the local tourist offices in the areas you plan to visit. You can also find listings at international online services such as BBOnline, BnBFinderBedandBreakfast.com or, of course, Airbnb.

At the lower end of the lodgings scale in Germany are zimmer, meaning simply “rooms,” in private houses, offered by families that have a spare bedroom or two. These can be especially handy if you’re looking for an overnight while touring the country by car. Watch for signs that say “Zimmerfrei” (room available), check with the local tourist office for locations, or try Homestay.com.

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Germany Vacation Rentals

Apartment and home rentals provide more spacious quarters and can be less expensive than booking multiple hotel rooms when traveling with family or a group of friends. The agencies and websites that specialize in offering these types of properties have listings ranging from studios in the city to villas in the country. Among the sources to try are AirbnbHomeAway, and TripAdvisor’s vacation rentals page.

Ask for references or read reviews from people who have previously rented the property that you’re considering. Be sure that someone will be on call to help in case of emergency, like a lost key or a plumbing problem. If you’re hungry for more information before making your reservation, read up about what you need to know about booking a vacation rental.

If you’re planning to stay in Germany for a week or longer, you could consider a house swap. A German family might be delighted to trade their home or apartment for yours, saving each of you a lot of money. Specialized agencies such as HomeExchange or Intervac have listings all over the world, including many in Germany. As with rentals, references from others who have stayed in the property are invaluable. Not quite sure how to arrange this type of accommodation? Read more about how to set up a home exchange.

Hostels in Germany

Germany helped pioneer the idea of youth hostels, and today has more than 500 hostel properties that are among Europe’s most modern. While they still offer the bunk rooms that are popular with thrifty students, many hostels also offer private double rooms and family-style rooms that appeal to budget-conscious older travelers. Rates are modest and often include breakfast.

The best hostels book up fast, so reserve well in advance. Find listings at the German Youth Hostel Association or via Hostelling International, an organization that covers countries around the world. You may also want to consider investing in a Hostelling International membership, as this will allow you to stay worldwide at deeply discounted rates.

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–original research and reporting by Eleanor Berman

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

Categories
Booking Strategy

Where to Stay in South Korea: Lodging Tips You Need to Know

Considering a trip to South Korea? Set aside that spicy bowl of kimchi for a moment and settle in for a crash course about where to stay in South Korea. As a major East Asian tourist destination and convention hub, South Korea is home to an array of accommodation options that includes everything from the luxurious and modern to the cozy and conventional to the downright bizarre. Indeed, South Korea lodging options will suit every budget, and virtually every fancy.

Hotels in South Korea

The most obvious place to begin your time in South Korea is at a hotel. Hotels in South Korea are largely the same as you’ll find at home, and just like those, vary in standards and service. An average room can be quite inexpensive outside of major tourist destinations like Seoul, Busan, and Jeju Island, but prices may skyrocket depending on the time of year or local events.

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You can browse hotel listings throughout South Korea on review sites like TripAdvisor, SmarterTravel’s parent site. Avoid hotels branded as “tourist” or “business”; quality is often subpar at best. Agoda is also an excellent website for hotel booking in South Korea.

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South Korea Luxury Hotels

You’ll find plenty of luxury hotel options in South Korea, operated by many of the same global hospitality chains that you’re familiar with back home. If you’re willing to splurge, you’ll have an opportunity to experience legendary Korean hospitality, a king-sized bed, swimming pools, and all the other modern amenities you could ever want. Standouts include the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul, where the impeccable rooms include marble bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows; the Conrad Seoul, known for world-class service and hospitality; and the Lotte Hotel Busan, the most luxurious place to stay in the southern part of the country.

South Korea Resorts

The resort experience in South Korea can be incredibly unique. For example, you can cruise (but not really) aboard the Sun Cruise Resort, a giant ship firmly affixed to solid ground in Donghae, offering a faux deep-sea adventure for the consummate land lover. South Korea is home to myriad quirky resort properties such as these.

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South Korea Jjimjilbangs

On the other end of the spectrum from the luxury brands are Korea’s ubiquitous saunas, also known as jjimjilbangs. For about the cost of a fast food meal at home, you can sleep on the (heated) floor in a community bathhouse.

Hang on—this is not nearly as bad as it sounds. In fact, jjimjilbangs, almost always open 24 hours, are an excellent option for weary travelers who are simply looking for a place to rest awhile. These social gathering places include access to steam baths and saunas, so despite sleeping on the floor, you may actually come away feeling rejuvenated.

Listings are difficult to find online and typically only in Korean. The Visit Korea site, however, does supply a good listing of Seoul’s jjimjilbangs, as does TripAdvisor.

South Korea Motels

Travelers beware: Not all motels are created equal. More often than not, South Korean motels double as houses of ill repute. “Love motels,” as many of them are known, are usually rented by the hour—your first clue that you’re not in Kansas anymore.

That said, if you’re in a pinch or you arrive late to a destination that is otherwise sold out, motels actually aren’t a bad option in South Korea. Beds are usually large (surprise, surprise), and most rooms are clean and well appointed. If you don’t mind sleeping next to a condom dispenser or walking across a floor of velvet, a love motel could suit you.

Love motels aren’t usually listed on sites like TripAdvisor, and rarely advertise; the easiest way to find one is to learn to recognize the Korean symbol for love motel, and then inquire within. Don’t worry, they’re easy to spot; most marquees and logos include a heart shape somewhere.

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South Korea Guesthouses and B&Bs

Koreans are famously hospitable. Staying at a family-run guesthouse is a great way to peek inside Koreans’ everyday lives; a night at a guesthouse often includes a community breakfast, tea time, and more socializing than you’re probably used to when traveling. Guesthouses are similar to Western bed and breakfasts, though the term “B&B” is relatively new to South Korea. A property advertised as a B&B is probably recently opened and more expensive than a guesthouse.  To find these types of accommodations in South Korea, try Agoda or TripAdvisor.

South Korea Hanok Lodging

A hanok is a traditional Korean building; think clay-tiled roofs, massive wooden support beams, overhanging eaves, and plenty of peace and quiet. Sparsely styled, a hanok will usually feature ondol (traditional home) standards, beautiful paper doors, and manicured gardens. More expensive than a guesthouse, a hanok stay is a uniquely Korean experience, and worth the inflated price.

Some of the best hanok experiences include Rakkojae Andong, at the Hahoe Folk Village; Rakkojae in Seoul; and the stunning Hyangdan Hanok Guesthouse in charming Gyeongju. For many guests, the best part about staying in a traditional hanok is the blissful disconnect from the everyday. No TV, no Wi-Fi, no distractions—not something you can say often about visiting South Korea.

South Korea Temple Stays

The only type of accommodation more unique than the hanok is the temple. A Korean temple stay is a charming experience; imagine waking up at dawn each day and watching monks in saffron-tinted robes wander about a perfectly manicured garden while lost in thought. Join them in prayer, enjoy simple meals, meditate, and reconnect with your spiritual self at any one of South Korea’s many overnight temples.

Tapsa Temple is an outstanding option for first-time visitors looking for an experience that won’t overwhelm. Originally built by a Buddhist hermit in a valley near Maisan Mountain, Tapsa features dozens of stone pagodas (some more than 30 feet tall), each constructed by hand over a period of years. The temple has an almost ethereal air about it, especially at night. For more information and to book temple overnights in South Korea, check a website called Templestay.

South Korea Yeogwans

Yeogwans were once the most common type of accommodation in Korea. These simple rooms are notable for their ondol stylings; instead of a bed, you sleep on a mattress on the floor, which is sometimes heated, sometimes not. The supposed explanation? Koreans like to travel in groups. By removing the bed, you can get more people into a room.

Whether this is truth or myth doesn’t matter much: Yeogwans were the standard in Korean travel for generations, though they’re far less popular these days. A night in a yeogwan is pretty cheap, but be prepared to share restroom and dining facilities. The cozy minbak (see below) is a step up from the yeogwan. Want to try staying in one? Yeogwans are frequently listed alongside hostels on major lodging websites, including TripAdvisor.

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South Korea Minbaks

Cheaper than hotels, a minbak is a family-run outfit that offers modest accommodations. Expect a simple room that may or may not feature a bed. If your room does not come with a bed, make sure that the floor is heated. Restroom facilities may be shared, and kitchens are often provided. Minbaks vary wildly in comfort and size, so it pays to have a look at your room prior to booking. Looking to book one? Minbaks are often listed alongside hostels on sites like TripAdvisor.

South Korea Hostels

South Korea’s range of hostels is no different from what you might expect to find in other parts of the world. The best offer tidy dorm rooms, shared kitchen facilities, clean bathrooms, and community living spaces. Most of South Korea’s hostels are in Seoul; jjimjilbangs (see above) are far more popular in other parts of the country. Looking to book a hostel in South Korea? Try HostelWorld or Hostels.com.

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–original research and reporting by Flash Parker

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

Categories
Beach Budget Travel Island

The 9 Best Cheap Hotels in Hawaii

Hawaii is a bucket-list destination not just for its natural beauty and big waves but also for its price tag. Getting there is expensive, especially for travelers who don’t live on the West Coast of the U.S., and spending multiple nights can get pricey for everyone. Good weather year-round means there’s no true “off season” in Hawaii, and these days even “budget” hot spots like Waikiki Beach are getting more expensive.

That’s the bad news.

The good news? You can still totally afford Hawaii.

I’ve uncovered several cheap hotels in Hawaii that offer some real savings, plus easy access to all the magic the Aloha State has to discover, leaving you more money for things like mai tais, luaus, and catamaran cruises with dolphins.

I compared prices for November and December stays at a number of affordable hotels in Hawaii and picked those that offer a unique Aloha State experience.

Cheap Hotels in Oahu

Although it’s pricier than in years past, Oahu’s Waikiki Beach is still the best place to find cheap hotels in Hawaii. While some bemoan it as a manufactured paradise—and it can definitely get crowded and touristy—it offers lots of value, a great location, and an amazing beach at your fingertips (or toes).

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel

aston waikiki beach hotel

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel is a great place to start. The hotel itself is fun and modern, with surfboards in the lobby and a relaxed but lively atmosphere geared toward the younger crowd at the pool and bar. Most rooms have ocean views, which generally come at a premium on this stretch of Waikiki.

Book it: Get prices for Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel

Vive Hotel Waikiki

vive hotel waikiki

Rooms at the Vive Hotel Waikiki may be on the small side, but its location—just two blocks from Waikiki Beach—and moderate rates make up for it. You can relax in the welcoming lobby, where you can borrow a book from the library, play one of the hotel’s board games, or grab a drink from the 24-hour tea and coffee station. Towels, chairs, and boogie boards are available to take to the beach, and each room has a tablet for guests to use.

Book it: Get prices for Vive Hotel Waikiki

Coconut Waikiki Hotel

coconut waikiki hotel

Located about a 10-minute walk from the beach, the family-friendly Coconut Waikiki makes up for its less convenient location with fun extras such as a game room and a popcorn machine in the lobby. Most rooms have kitchenettes, so you can save even more money by making a few of your own meals. Even if you’re in a room without a kitchenette, you can grill up a quick dinner in the hotel’s communal BBQ area.

Book it: Get prices for Coconut Waikiki Hotel

Cheap Hotels in Maui

With golden-sand beaches and the twisting Road to Hana, Maui is an exciting destination for outdoorsy types and romance seekers. The sheer diversity of things to do is what draws visitors to its shores—luckily, you don’t have to spend a lot to be among their numbers. I found two hotel possibilities on Maui that offer surprising savings.

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel

ka'anapali beach hotel room

The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, on 11 acres alongside Ka’anapali Beach, is a good jumping-off point for your island adventures. Located near Lahaina, the resort earns its four stars from TripAdvisor (SmarterTravel’s parent company) for convenience and price alike. Also worth mentioning? A great reef just offshore gets you a priceless personal encounter with sea turtles, rays, and tropical fish in a rainbow of colors. The hotel is on the older side, but rooms are spacious, clean, and bright—in every way, traditionally Hawaiian.

Book it: Get prices for Ka’anapali Beach Hotel

Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger

napili shores outrigger

Outrigger, a Hawaii-based retailer of inexpensive resorts in tropical places (Guam, Fiji, Mauritius, and so on), operates Napili Shores in Lahaina. Studios and one-bedroom condos have full kitchens and private lanais, perfect for getting wide-angle views of the Pacific and the islands of Molokai and Lanai on the horizon. The resort has pools, BBQ facilities, and even a giant checkerboard game.

Book it: Get prices for Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger

Cheap Hotels on the Big Island (Hawaii)

Home to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Big Island is the place to be for hikers, trekkers, campers, and explorers. There’s a lot of legroom on this large island, with a sense of wide-open spaces among the extreme geological features.

Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel

courtyard by marriott king kamehameha's kona beach hotel

If you want a beachfront resort experience without paying a mint, consider King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, a Marriott property. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of the shops and restaurants of downtown Kona. The hotel recently added an Adult Fun Zone that features a variety of complimentary games such as bocce ball, corn hole, and table tennis. Also on site are a yoga studio, tennis center, infinity pool, and hot tub.

Book it: Get prices for Courtyard by Marriott King Kamahameha’s Kona Beach Hotel

Kohala Village Inn

kohala village inn

For travelers who prefer intimate accommodations to big resorts, the Kohala Village Inn is an appealing and affordable option. The 18 plantation-style guest rooms are clean and simply furnished, with mini-refrigerators and free Wi-Fi. The inn is part of a nonprofit organization that also includes a pub serving food grown by local farmers and a center for community activities such as dance, fitness, and art classes. A stay here offers a peek into life in a laid-back town in the northern part of the Big Island.

Book it: Get prices for Kohala Village Inn

Cheap Hotels in Kauai

The “Garden Island” is impossibly lush and green, with outdoor adventures ranging from hiking and zip-lining to surfing and biking. It has a more rural, less developed feel than the islands above.

Garden Island Inn Hotel

garden island inn hotel kauai

A friendly motel near Kalapaki Beach and the Lihue airport, the Garden Island Inn Hotel packs value into every stay. All rooms include kitchenettes, free Wi-Fi, and daily fresh-cut flowers from the inn’s gardens. There are plenty of goodies for guests to borrow, including golf clubs, beach chairs, ice chests, DVDs, and beach towels. You can walk to restaurants and the beach, and nearby attractions include Wailua Falls and the Kauai Museum.

Book it: Get prices for Garden Island Inn Hotel

Castle Kaha Lani

castle kaha lani

Looking for a little more space? Consider the one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos at Castle Kaha Lani, also in the Lihue area. All units include full kitchen facilities and private balconies, and laundry machines are available on site. The property is next door to Lydgate Beach Park, which has two protected lagoons where children can swim safely. There’s also a 2.5-mile paved coastal path for walking, jogging, or bike riding.

Book it: Get prices for Castle Kaha Lani

For more ideas, see The 10 Best Kauai Hotels for Every Budget and 10 Best Cheap Hotels in Honolulu.

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[viator_tour destination=”278″ type=”3-mod”]

Sarah Schlichter contributed to this story. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

Editor’s Note: This story was first written in 2014. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

Categories
Beach Budget Travel Cities Family Travel Holiday Travel Miscellany Student Travel

10 Cheap Hotels in Fort Myers

Take a cue from local college students, spring breakers, those traveling for sports tournaments, and families on a budget who have already discovered these clean, cozy and cheap hotels in Fort Myers.

Cheap Hotels in Fort Myers

Choose your Fort Myers motel wisely and you won’t even have to sacrifice extras like free Wi-Fi and complimentary breakfast. Here are 10 dependable cheap hotels to consider if you’re on a budget for your Florida vacation.

Holiday Inn Edison at Midtown

cheap hotels in fort myers

[st_content_ad]With its choice location in the historic Downtown River District, this colorful, value-driven facility (also known as the Holiday Inn Fort Myers – Downtown Area), shouts Southwest Florida. A shimmering, tropically landscaped pool is a highlight, as is the location: As the name indicates, it’s so close to the Edison-Ford Estates that you can walk there. Renovated in 2015, the hotel features upgraded, comfortable bedding and furniture. All rooms have flat-screen TVs and micro-refrigerators; there’s even a private-access floor for those business travelers seeking quiet.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, micro-refrigerators, private-access floor, 24-hour business center, meeting room, tropically landscaped pool, fitness center, laundry services, free self-parking, free shuttle, concierge services, and 24-hour front desk. (Pet-friendly.)

Book it: Find rates and dates for the Holiday Inn Edison at Midtown and other Fort Myers hotels

Riverview Inn

cheap hotels in fort myers

This clean, contemporary roadside motel is a real find. It overlooks the Caloosahatchee River, which offers stunning views of wildlife and sunsets alike. Done in shades of blue, gray, and silver, there’s an obvious effort made at design, with an Art Deco curvilinear sign outside advertising the space as the “Riverview Boutique Inn & Suites.” Inside, the compact rooms make great use of space with everything racked on the walls, including a flat-screen TV and an iron and ironing board. Friendly staff fronts the desk 24 hours. Most of Fort Myers main attractions—the River District, Centennial Park, and performing and visual arts venues—are less than two miles away, and plenty of restaurants and bars are within walking distance.

Amenities: Flat-screen TVs, iron/ironing board, and river view.

Book it: Find rates and dates for the Riverview Inn and other Fort Myers hotels

Econo Lodge North

cheap hotels in fort myers

Though travelers usually think of cheap lodgings as free of frills, Fort Myers’ Econo Lodge North does have a few extras, including complimentary Wi-Fi, free parking, and breakfast included daily. There’s also a business center and an outdoor pool. The location is central as well: The Harborside Event Center, the Franklin Shops, the Art of the Olympians Museum and the River District are all under two miles away. And multiple North Fort Myers restaurants and recommended businesses are in the immediate area.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, free parking, breakfast included, business center, and outdoor pool.

Book it: Find rates and dates for Econo Lodge North and other Fort Myers hotels

Holiday Inn Ft. Myers Airport-Town Center

cheap hotels in fort myers

Although not as inexpensive as other cheap hotels in Fort Myers, this new Holiday Inn delivers great overall value. Shuttle transportation to and from the main airport, only three miles away, is available. Clean, neat rooms and suites feature microwaves, mini-refrigerators and coffeemakers, as well as flat-screen LCD TVs with cable television, plus bathrooms with hand-held European-style showers. Outside, a fire pit overlooks a lake; there’s also a landscaped indoor/outdoor “Oasis” pool and hot tub.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi; breakfast included; free parking; air conditioning; in-room microwaves, coffeemakers and mini-refrigerators, flat-screen LCD TVs with cable; hand-held European-style showers; indoor/outdoor pool; hot tub; fitness center; self-serve laundry services; dry cleaning services; multilingual staff; restaurant/bar; room service; live entertainment; fire pit; shuttle bus; and airport transportation.

Book it: Find rates and dates for Holiday Inn Ft. Myers Airport-Town Center and other Fort Myers hotels

Fairfield Inn & Suites Fort Myers Cape Coral

cheap hotels in fort myers

More inexpensive than cheap, these large, clean and comfortable rooms—recently renovated—are great for families. The in-room microwave and refrigerator offer a budget-friendly alternative to eating every meal at a restaurant. Don’t worry about breakfast, though—it’s complimentary. With its central location, this hotel makes it easy to attend the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox spring training baseball games, stroll through the Bell Tower Shops, take in the wildlife refuges and preserves, or see a show at night at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall.

Amenities: Pool, free parking, free Wi-Fi, fitness center, breakfast included, laundry service, self-service laundry, dry cleaning, multilingual staff, air conditioning, and in-room microwave and refrigerator.

Book it: Find rates and dates for the Fairfield Inn & Suites Fort Myers Cape Coral and other Fort Myers hotels

Rock Lake Resort

cheap hotels in fort myers

These quirky cottages—a total of 36 units—were built in the 1940s by architect James Morre, who constructed them around a lake. Don’t worry—the resort has been renovated since its historic beginnings, with all units featuring new furniture and BeautyRest mattresses. Many of the unites even include kitchens. The cottages have covered porches that face the lake. Billy Creek, which feeds right into the Caloosahatchee River, runs behind the resort, and there are plenty of places around the property to take a nature walk or play horsehoes or ping-pong.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, heated pool, nature walk, canoeing/kayaking Billy’s Creek, fishing, kitchens in 19 units, access to Caloosahatchee River, horseshoes, and ping-pong.

Book it: Find rates and dates for Rock Lake Resort and other Fort Myers hotels

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Fort Myers – The Forum

cheap hotels in fort myers

Upgraded digs and professional staff have made this Holiday Inn a pleasure to visit. Comfort, convenience, and value are the primary goals here: The business center, conference facilities and meeting rooms are available for use; breakfast is included daily; and a microwave and refrigerator are included in each room.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, breakfast included, free parking, flat-screen TVs, air conditioning, in-room microwaves and refrigerators, business center, meeting rooms, banquet room, conference facilities, heated outdoor pool, fitness center, self-service laundry services, dry cleaning, and multilingual staff. 

Book it: Find rates and dates for the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Fort Myers – The Forum and other Fort Myers hotels

La Quinta Inn Fort Myers Central

cheap hotels in fort myers

Situated just east of the Caloosahatchee River on US41, the city’s main drag, this Southwestern-motif hotel highlights value, location, and amenities as its main attractions. Rooms come equipped with a coffee/tea maker, iron and ironing board, and flat-screen HDTV with more than 30 channels (as well as plug-and-play options to connect your own technology). Other perks include the chain’s free daily Bright Side Breakfast, a heated outdoor pool, and a tennis court.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, breakfast included, free parking, heated outdoor pool, dry cleaning, laundry service, self-serve laundry, meeting rooms, concierge, multilingual staff, tennis court, HDTV, coffee maker, and iron/ironing board.

Book it: Find rates and dates for La Quinta Inn Fort Myers Central and other Fort Myers hotels

Travelodge Fort Myers North

cheap hotels in fort myers

Just one mile from the Harborside Event Center and similarly close to JetBlue Park at Fenway South Hammond Stadium, this cheap hotel in Fort Myers is perfectly placed for sports fans. Free breakfast daily adds to the value. There’s also self-serve laundry and room in the lot to park buses and RVs. And you don’t have to leave Fido out of the action—this motel welcomes family pets, as does Dog Beach on Estero Island, about 30 minutes away.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, outdoor pool, free parking, room service, 24-hour reception desk, multilingual staff, laundry services, self-serve laundry, air conditioning, in-room microwave and mini-refrigerator, coffee/tea maker, flat-screen TVs, cribs available, rollaway beds available, daily housekeeping, and bus/truck parking. (Pet-friendly.)

Book it: Find rates and dates for Travelodge Fort Myers North and other Fort Myers hotels

Golf View Motel

cheap hotels in fort myers

A true old Florida roadside motel, this serviceable facility is a choice option for anyone looking for a cheap hotel in Fort Myers while exploring the area’s wildlife refuges, beaches, and attractions. The motel offers in-room microwaves and refrigerators, Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, a clean outdoor pool, and a front desk that’s staffed 24/7. 

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, in-room microwave and refrigerator, air conditioning, outdoor pool, 24-hour front desk, and flat-screen TVs.

Book it: Find rates and dates for the Golf View Motel and other Fort Myers hotels

More from SmarterTravel:

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– Original reporting by Jen Karetnick

Categories
Booking Strategy Cities Miscellany

10 Best Hotels in Seattle

The best hotels in Seattle not only deliver top-notch service and comfort, but they also occupy some of the city’s premier downtown real estate. That means dazzling views from your guest room, and a wealth of activities and attractions right from the lobby.

The Best Hotels in Seattle

Make the most of your visit with a stay at one of these five-star hotels in Seattle. Because many of them serve a business clientele, rates at Seattle luxury hotels are often lower on weekends.

Loews Hotel 1000

best hotels in seattle

[st_content_ad]A recent renovation to this Seattle luxury hotel created sleek and bright guest rooms, complete with deep soaking tubs in the glass-walled bath. (Electric blinds add privacy as needed.) Higher floors provide an intriguing view of shipping traffic to and from the Washington State Ferry terminal and West Seattle’s shipyards. 

Amenities: Dining at All Water Seafood & Oyster Bar, virtual golf simulator, full-service spa, fitness center, and saunas.

Book It: Get prices for Loews Hotel 1000 and other Seattle hotels

Four Seasons Hotel Seattle

best hotels in seattle

At the foot of Union Street near Pike Place Market, the Four Seasons makes the most of its idyllic location with a rooftop infinity pool that seems to melt right into Puget Sound. Don’t miss dining at The Goldfinch Tavern, Ethan Stowell’s on-site restaurant.

Amenities: Dining at The Goldfinch Tavern, fitness center, spa, outdoor pool, outdoor hot tub, and outdoor fireplace.

Book It: Get prices for Four Seasons Hotel Seattle and other Seattle hotels

Fairmont Olympic Seattle

best hotels in seattle

Built in 1924 and filling an entire city block, the venerable Fairmont brings Old World glamour to the heart of downtown. The over-the-top lobby with grand main staircase sets the tone for unabashed elegance at one of the best hotels in Seattle. The Four-Diamond Georgian Restaurant serves afternoon high tea.

Amenities: Dining at the Georgian restaurant, Shucker’s Oyster Bar, fitness center with indoor pool, sauna, and hot tub.

 Book It: Get prices for the Fairmont Olympic Seattle and other Seattle hotels

Edgewater Hotel

best hotels in seattle

One of the best hotels in Seattle for great views, the Edgewater Hotel offers lavish rooms (each with fireplace and luxe bedding) built on a pier over the water. Everyone loves the stories of rock bands—The Beatles, Led Zeppelin—fishing out the windows. Yes, all the famous folk have stayed at this legendary spot, because who doesn’t want to wake up to a view of Puget Sound?

Amenities: Waterside dining at Six Seven Restaurant, complimentary downtown shuttle service, fitness center, and loaner bicycles.

 Book It: Get prices for The Edgewater and other Seattle hotels

Hotel Andra

best hotels in seattle

A stylish Scandinavian aesthetic of wood, glass, and textiles in Nordic blues and oranges greets guests at this stylish downtown spot. It’s one of the best hotels in Seattle for foodies, home to both Lola, Seattle chef Tom Douglas’s acclaimed Greek restaurant, and the Hot Stove Society, Douglas’s cooking school.

Amenities: Dining at Lola, fitness center, and shoeshine service. 

Book It: Get prices for Hotel Andra and other Seattle luxury hotels

Inn at the Market

best hotels in seattle

You can’t get closer to Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market than this inn, a tranquil oasis tucked away within the market itself. Its communal rooftop terrace alone is worth a stay, with peeks down into the market hustle and bustle, plus panoramic views of the city skyline, Elliott Bay, and the Olympic Mountains. Spacious guest rooms also offer enviable views from large windows or balconies. Dozens of restaurants and shops are just steps away.

Amenities: Rooftop deck, salon, massage services, business center, and privileges at nearby health club.

Book It: Find prices for Inn at the Market and other Seattle hotels

Thompson Seattle

best hotels in seattle

A facade of angled glass showcases the sleek Scandinavian style that defines the Thompson. Guest rooms are artful, airy spaces with hardwood floors and decidedly Danish-inspired furnishings. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame Pike Place Market across the street and a panorama of Puget Sound just beyond. Every guest can enjoy the dazzling view, thanks to The Nest, the rooftop bar and outdoor living room.

Amenities: Dining at Scout PNW, The Nest rooftop bar, rain shower, oversized signature robes, and DS&DURGA bath products.

Book It: Get prices for the Thompson and other Seattle hotels

Doubletree Arctic Club

best hotels in seattle

Relive Seattle’s Klondike Gold Rush heyday at this historic gem of a building in Pioneer Square, once the private clubhouse for miners swapping Arctic stories. Now a Doubletree by Hilton property, it celebrates the past with a rich wood-paneled interior, the sublime Northern Lights Dome Room, and a restored facade festooned with terra cotta walruses.

Amenities: Dining at Juno Restaurant, Polar Bar, fitness center, and business center.

 Book It: Get prices for the Arctic Club Seattle and other Seattle hotels

W Hotel

best hotels in seattle

A dramatic modern lobby clad in stainless steel sets the tone for this striking Seattle luxury hotel located downtown. Couples sip cocktails at the Living Room bar near the three-story fireplace; music thumps from the DJ booth on weekends.

Amenities: Dining at TRACE restaurant, Living Room bar, 1,600-square-foot fitness center, in-room spa services, and Bliss products.

 Book It: Find prices for W Seattle and other Seattle hotels

Hotel Ballard

best hotels in seattle

The lush and plush Hotel Ballard brings an unexpected elegance to the youthful vibe that pervades Ballard Avenue. All the fun you want is right outside your door; inside, it’s all about comfort and elegance in guest rooms with featherbeds and marble baths. Suites have fireplaces, balconies, and soaking tubs.

 Amenities: Library, rooftop pavilion with outdoor fireplace, Molton Brown products, and complimentary access to Olympic Athletic Club next door.

 Book It: Get prices for Hotel Ballard and other Seattle hotels

More from SmarterTravel:

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—Original reporting by Tina Lassen

Categories
Adventure Travel Booking Strategy Family Travel Pet Travel Road Trip Weekend Getaways

11 Pet-Friendly Hotels Your Dog (and You) Will Love

Forget dog sitters and kennels—it’s now easier than ever to bring your furry friend with you when you travel. Thanks to the rise of pet-friendly hotels, you can afford a room both you and your dog will love.

Best Pet-Friendly Hotels

The experts at the dog-friendly hotel engine BringFido highlighted these 11 options as some of the best, from chains to locally run boutique pet hotels. 

Kimpton Hotels

[st_content_ad]Vacationing with even a large pet doesn’t have to be pricey: Many hotels will let your dog stay for free. Kimpton has been among the roster of pet-friendly hotels since it was founded in the 1980s, and provides necessities like dog beds, food, water bowls, toys, and waste bags, all free for dogs of any size. Guest perks like the daily wine social hour also welcome pets. Some properties even have their own resident pooch, dubbed “Director of Pet Relations,” whom you can meet in the lobby and during wine hour.

Red Roof Inn

Not only will you avoid a pet fee at Red Roof Inns, but these pet-friendly hotels will reward you with a 10 percent discount for bringing one along. Being a dog parent is a lot of work, but Red Roof’s 500 pet-friendly hotels across the U.S. are an easy, money-saving option for frequent travelers with dogs. Find them all across the U.S. plus a few bonus spots in Asia and South America.

[st_related]9 Pet-Friendly Hotel Chains[/st_related]

The Jefferson Hotel: Richmond, Virginia

Who says pet-friendly hotels don’t have style? A historic beaux arts option just outside of Washington, D.C., the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond is ideal for pet owners who want to stay outside the cramped city. For $50 per pet you’ll get bedding and treats, and the hotel has its own resident rescue dog you can make friends with.

The Surrey Hotel: New York City

 

Treat yourself and your canine travel companion to a city getaway with all the amenities at the luxe Surrey Hotel. Its Upper East Side location adjacent to Central Park means you and your dog will have plenty of room to walk and play, and guests at this pet hotel get 15 percent off at the nearby Canine Styles dog grooming salon. All pets at the Surrey receive a dog bed, food, and a water bowl. But, like most things in New York City, this pet getaway will cost you: The Surrey charges $150 to cover up to two pets of any size. Get your money’s worth by asking the staff for pet-friendly restaurant, park, and museum recommendations, like the 19th-century dog portraits at the William Secord Gallery.

[st_related]How to Travel with Your Dog: 8 Hotel Tips and Tricks[/st_related]

La Quinta Inns & Suites

 

La Quinta Inns & Suites never impose fees or deposits for bringing pets, and the chain’s affordable pet-friendly properties are in hundreds of locales across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Breakfast is included, although pets aren’t allowed in the breakfast dining area. BringFido has lots of La Quinta Inns & Suites reviews for specific properties, so you can scope out the rooms and amenities beforehand.

Aloft Hotels

Dogs up to 40 pounds stay free at Starwood’s boutique brand, Aloft Hotels, thanks to the “Arf” program, which includes a dog bed, a bowl, treats, and toys in your stay. Aloft Hotels have sleek properties in the U.S. and abroad, including 169 in North America and dozens in Asia. But make sure you clear the size of your dog, as larger breeds over the 40-pound limit require manager approval.

[st_related]Best Boutique Hotel Chains 2017[/st_related]

The Cottages and Lofts at Boat Basin: Nantucket, Massachusetts

 

Splurge on a New England island getaway with an exclusive Woof Cottage on Nantucket. For $45 per night you can bring up to two dogs to stay on the Straight Wharf docks and enjoy amenities like on-site dog walking services and doggy turn-down service in their comfy pet beds. There’s a resident dog, Bailey, and nautical chew toys are provided to get your beach games started.

The Peninsula Beverly Hills: Los Angeles, California

Dogs of any size are welcome at one of Beverly Hills’ most luxurious hotels, The Peninsula, for $35 per pet, per night. On top of the cityscape views, ornate lobby, alfresco dining, and spa treatments, pet owners can take advantage of a doggie room service menu, plush dog beds, complimentary on-site dog walkers, and even in-room dog massages. If you and your pooch are into high-maintenance digs, this pet fee packs plenty of value.

[st_related]Unlimited Budget? Here Are the 10 Best U.S. Hotels[/st_related]

Seventy-Four Ranch: Jasper, Georgia

 

A bed and breakfast where you can get rustic with a four-legged friend, Seventy-Four Ranch in Georgia is one of the most affordable pet-friendly hotels. The Saddle House, which once hosted cowboys, has four beds that make it ideal for families with a dog. Three fenced-in acres serve as a play area for all the guest dogs, and pooches of every size can stay for no additional fee.

Cypress Inn: Carmel, California

Photo: Michael Troutman/www.dmtimaging.com

The off-leash beaches and parks of Carmel, California, are your dog’s playground if you choose to stay at the cozy seaside town’s Cypress Inn. Enjoy a “Yappy Hour” cocktail with your pup at the hotel’s pet-friendly lounge, and rely on the on-site dog sitters and treats when you need to get out on your own. Pet fees start from $30 per night for one dog.

[st_related]8 Things You Need for a Road Trip with Your Pet[/st_related]

Iron Springs Resort: Copalis Beach, Washington

A seaside retreat for only $20 per pet, per night, Copalis Beach’s Iron Springs Resort supplies their pet-friendly hotel cabins with a tennis ball plus all the dog bowl and towel necessities you’ll need for frolicking on the beach. Up to three pets are welcome, and cabins have enough room for families to enjoy this pet-friendly hotel.

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Associate Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Categories
Family Travel Pet Travel Road Trip Travel Etiquette

How to Travel with Your Dog: 8 Hotel Tips and Tricks

If you’re a dog owner who loves to travel, often the most difficult part of a trip is leaving your beloved friend behind. In a recent survey from Nature’s Recipe, almost half of the respondents said they avoid traveling with their dogs because of the inconvenience and that the biggest hurdle is finding a dog-friendly hotel.

How to Travel with Your Dog Overnight at a Hotel

Because figuring out how to travel with your dog requires some extra planning, here are eight tips to help with overnight hotel stays and finding dog-friendly properties.

Understand the Hotel’s Pet Policy and Fees

[st_content_ad]When traveling with your dog, I recommend booking directly with the hotel over the phone. This way you can ask specific questions and understand the hotel’s pet policy.

Before you book, ask if there’s a pet fee, if the fee is per night or a flat rate, if there are breed or weight limitations, if the entire hotel is pet-friendly or if there is a designated floor, if you can leave your dog alone in the room, if there are dog walkers or sitters available for hire, and if there are any charges associated with damages from your pet.

Pro Tip: A $25 to $50 fee for dogs is pretty standard, depending on the hotel. Check for specials from major hotel chains that are dog-friendly or ask a boutique hotel if it runs discounts for pets during the off-season.

[st_related]10 Cute Hotel Animals That Will Melt Your Heart [/st_related]

Know Your Dog’s Behavior

You’ll never know how to travel with your dog until you try it, but understanding your dog’s behavior is extremely important when staying overnight with him or her at a hotel. For example, if your dog tends to bark at people walking past a window, ask for a room on a higher floor. Or, if your dog gets nervous in elevators, ask for a room on a lower level so you can take the stairs. Another useful tip is to put the TV on when you leave the room, so your dog won’t hear people coming and going in the hall and get anxious.

Pro Tip: Before you go on a longer trip, do a trial run at a nearby pet-friendly hotel to see how your dog reacts. If things don’t go well, you can easily bring your dog home.

Have a Plan If You Can’t Leave Your Dog Alone

If a hotel’s policy is that you can’t leave your dog alone in the room, make sure you have some resources to call upon if you’re planning on going somewhere that doesn’t allow Fido. Ask if the hotel has a dog walker or sitter for hire; at some pet-friendly hotels, non-scheduled staff members are happy to walk your dog for you as long as you ask ahead of time. Another option is to bring your dog to a groomer, a boarding kennel, or even a doggie spa for the day.

Pro Tip: If you can leave your dog alone in the hotel room, always give the front desk staff a heads up and ask them to call you if there are any noise complaints or issues. 

Research Pet-Friendly Restaurants

If you can’t leave your dog alone in your room per the hotel’s policy, you’re going to want to find restaurants where you can bring your dog for meals. Most hotels can provide a list of nearby restaurants that allow pets, and typically if the hotel is pet-friendly, at least some part of its lobby bar or onsite restaurant will be too.

I’ve also found that most restaurants with outdoor seating will allow dogs as long as they are leashed and stay around the perimeter. However, the weather doesn’t always allow for this, so it’s wise to have a back-up plan—like room service or takeout.

Pro Tip: Check out BringFido for pet-friendly restaurants by city or region.

Pack the Right Gear and Food

Your doggie-packing list will vary based on the length of your stay and mode of transportation. Most hotels will include a dog bed, some treats, and a bowl as part of the pet fee; ask about this ahead of time so you don’t bring anything that’s unnecessary. You can also buy pet food at your destination to save some extra space in your suitcase.

If you’re going to be traveling with your dog often, I recommend purchasing a collapsible water bowl, a travel bed, pee pads, an extra leash, and lots of treats. If I’m packing dog food, I always measure it out ahead of time and put each meal in a separate plastic bag.

Pro Tip: One of the best things I’ve learned about how to travel with your dog is that you should always bring a favorite toy or item from home. Having something with a familiar smell will help make your dog more comfortable in the hotel room. 

[st_related]8 Things You Need for a Road Trip with Your Pet[/st_related]

Stick to a Routine

Dogs are creatures of habit, so it’s important to stick to your pet’s routine when you travel. Feed them at the same time, place the dog bed in a similar spot as it is at home, and give them plenty of exercise. One of the first things you should do when you get to the hotel is find a green space for them to go to the bathroom.

Pro Tip: If your dog is used to socializing with other dogs or needs some time off-leash, find a nearby dog park.

Choose the Right Pet-Friendly Hotel

Keep in mind that just because a hotel allows you to travel with your pet, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily “pet-friendly.” The hotel might have rooms available for your pet but not provide any extra perks or information, for example.

If you’re traveling with a small dog that doesn’t require a lot of exercise, then any standard hotel chain will probably do. But if you have a larger dog that needs lots of attention or you’re traveling on a budget, it may take more research to find a good fit.

Pro Tip: Boutique hotels will often provide more amenities or attention to dogs if they pride themselves on being pet-friendly. Some of my favorite pet-friendly hotels include The Colonnade Hotel in Boston, Topnotch Resort in Stowe, and Hotel Vermont in Burlington.

Kimpton is a great chain-option for dogs since it doesn’t charge any extra fees and even invites dogs (and any other pet) to the nightly, complimentary wine reception the brand is known for.

[st_related]9 Pet-Friendly Hotel Chains[/st_related]

Find Dog-Friendly Activities

Some suggested dog-friendly activities while on vacation include hiking, walking along a running or bike path, breweries (call ahead to make sure they’re pet-friendly), markets, beaches, and outdoor parks and monuments. The more tired your pup is, the better they’ll sleep at the hotel.

Pro Tip: BringFido lets you search for events and activities in your destination.

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Categories
Miscellany

Rail trip from Scotland to Germany.

Author: Broxi Bear
Date of Trip: May 2006

My friend and I recently traveled from Scotland to Germany by rail. We travelled from Glasgow (Scotland), via Edinburgh, to London by GNER (www.gner.co.uk). The journey by standard class was uneventful until we approached London. We had to transfer from GNER to London Underground to complete the journey due to King’s Cross station being closed for trackwork. We stayed overnight.

The next morning, we went to Waterloo and traveled on the Eurostar to Brussels. At Brussels, we were to travel to Cologne on the Thalys train. Due to a mix-up on the platform, I missed the train. The doors of the train closed on me, and I couldn’t open them. The Thalys staff were most unhelpful. I traveled on the next train, a DB (DieBahn) ICE train. I would certainly recommend the ICE over the Thalys.

Traveling 2nd class on the ICE is comparable to 1st class on many other trains. After my friend and I met up in Cologne, we traveled on the Regional Express to Remagen.

We stayed in a self catering apartment in Remagen, right opposite the station. It was clean and comfortable, and shops are close by.

Remagen is a good base for exploring the Rhine valley area. Sights to see include the remains of the Remagen Bridge, a quick train to Cologne lets you see the Cathedral (very close to the station). One sight we were lucky to see was “Rhein An Flammen.” A lot of the cruise vessels on the Rhine travel along, all lit up, and there are spectacular firework displays.

On the return trip, we traveled first class all the way to Glasgow. We traveled from Cologne to Brussels on the Thalys train. We were provided with a (cold) meal. On transferring at Brussels to the Eurostar, we were first of all offered a glass of champagne, then were provided with a menu to select our meal. I took the hot option, which was very nice. We were also offered wine with the meal.

On arrival in London, we stayed overnight at a Travelodge. It was clean but basic (at £26 a room, for London you can’t complain).

The next morning, we traveled on GNER 1st class to Glasgow. 1st class on this train is not the same as 1st class on the trains in France and Germany.

If I do this trip again, I would certainly recommend that you take the ICE rather than the Thalys.

Categories
Weekend Getaways

Our weekend in Williamsburg (May 28-31, 2004)

Author: loriandwill83103
Date of Trip: May 2004

Here’s a compilation of our opinions on our lodging, food and entertainment choices while on this quick weekend getaway.

Governor Spottswood Motel

Having been born a few decades too late for the Motor Courts and Mom & Pop motels, my husband and I make it a point to stay at a few of the remaining places when we travel. After having read the comments on this site and Trip Advisor, we felt confident in choosing the Governor Spottswood Motel. Despite a few negative remarks, the majority of the people that have stayed here and then reported back seemed to have liked it. I went with my gut feeling and booked our room for May 28-31, Memorial Day weekend. We requested a king size bed, but all they had at the time of booking was queens, which was fine. Upon checking in, we were upgraded to a king sized room.

Our room was very spacious and clean, with Thomasville furniture and a generous sized bathroom as well. The closet space was ample, the room had a mini fridge and the air conditioner was cold. I believe the bathroom had original tiles still (blue green & black) and the bathtub was a decent size with a shower as well.

Housekeeping did an excellent job replacing the linens daily, and when we had a small issue with the hot water (or lack thereof as the case was) the staff promptly fixed the boiler. We had hot water again within an hour. We saw no security issues as the door had 3 locks from what I can remember.

My husband and I are very unpretentious people and simple accommodations suit us fine. Being a military family, we’re forced to travel on a budget most of the time. Staying at places like the Governor Spottswood affords us the opportunity to do more while on vacation. We were quite pleased with our room and the location in proximity to everything else was wonderful. For $58.00 a night, even during a holiday weekend, you can’t beat that. We really appreciated having a quiet, clean room and friendly staff, which is something that often times is lacking at larger chain hotels. We would certainly recommend this motel to anyone and would stay there again should the need arise.

Water Country USA

On Saturday, May 29, my husband and I headed off to Water Country USA. We checked prior to leaving SC to see about military discounted tickets, but we were told that we could only buy a discounted ticket on base, and they weren’t even sure which bases had tickets. Obviously, the base here in Charleston, SC doesn’t have tickets for a water park in Virginia.

We arrived at the ticketing booths around 10:30am where the lines were already forming. We waited about 15 minutes to purchase our tickets and then headed off to the locker rooms to change into our swimsuits. Locker rentals run roughly $10/day. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

The morning started off rather chilly, at least by my standards. I didn’t want to ride any slides right away, so we headed off to the Hubba Hubba Highway. This really was a lot of fun…just floating along. We rode a few slides afterwards and then had a ridiculously overpriced lunch of hotdogs and fries. Add in a drink and the total was somewhere around $14. Typical of theme parks, I know, but I still find it atrocious to pay so much for mediocre food at best.

We had a rather pleasant day, and this was a decent water park. It is certainly not a Blizzard Beach a la Disney by any means, but a good quality place anyhow.

Pirates Cove Mini-Golf

After checking into our hotel, Willand I headed off to Pirates Cove to play some mini-golf. It’s located close to the Big K-Mart on the right side of the road as you come into town.

We found our way to the entrance, decided on which course we would play and headed off. This course is new and everything was in great condition. We played through a cave, under a waterfall, over a bridge. Very interesting course and if we had time, we would’ve played the other side as well.

Will and I make it a point to play mini-golf on all of our vacations. It’s a good way to spend an hour or so before or after dinner. They didn’t offer any sort of discount in the tourist magazines and we asked about a military discount at the counter, but they don’t offer that either. It’s kind of a habit to ask when we go to attractions, as I try to let other military families know of discounts when we find one. We enjoyed ourselves at Pirates Cove and would play here again!

Mini Golf America

After dinner at Captain George’s, we went to Mini Golf America to work off some of that weight we’d just gained. This mini-golf was on the way back to the hotel, and we weren’t ready to turn in for the night just yet. I can’t remember exactly how much the tickets were, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t over $6 per adult. The have a coupon that’s good before 6pm, but we couldn’t use that since it was 8:30pm when we arrived.

This course is rather dated, in my opinion, but still a decent place to play. It isn’t filled with the usual things you find at a mini-golf place. It was a simple design, but the holes were still challenging. It was rather crowded, but I guess that’s to be expected since it was a Saturday night. The grounds were nicely landscaped and during the day you can see all of the turtles swimming around and sunning themselves. If you go at night, I highly suggest taking a can of Off! because the mosquitos were horrible. This mini-golf is kind of tucked away in the woods, so you can imagine the bugs we encountered. All in all, not a bad place to play… just wish we’d gone during the day.

The Jefferson

Our first night in Williamsburg found us tired and hungry. Luckily, the Jefferson Restaurant was directly across the street from our hotel. We took a gamble here, having seen several ads in the tourist magazines we picked up at the front desk. There was a coupon for a free shrimp cocktail or cup of peanut soup in several of the publications so we set out to grab what we thought would be a quick dinner.

After being seated, it took at least 10 minutes before our server came over to get our drink orders. I had a ham combo which included a crab cake, mashed potatoes and apple sauce. My husband had a ham and fried chicken combo. His chicken was undercooked and I’m quite surprised the chicken didn’t actually cluck at him. Needless to say, he didn’t eat the chicken and the server took that portion off of the check.

All in all, it took 1.5 hours at this restaurant as the service was wicked slow. I wish the experience had been better as I hate not being able to recommend a place, but as it stands, I wouldn’t return here again. The food was just so-so and combined with the extremely slow service, I wouldn’t waste my time going back. Our total, minus tax and tip, was somewhere around $35.00.

Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant

Our second night in Williamsburg found us starving (after a fun-filled day at Watercountry USA) so we decided on Captain George’s. We felt more confident in our decision when we arrived as the line was out the door… the food must be good, right?!

The wait was minimal, maybe 15 minutes, and the atmosphere was definitely worth it. I was amazed to walk into the dining area and see the 12-foot waterfall off to the left. Then I noticed the “stream” they have going through the entire restaurant. One wall was covered in a beach/lighthouse/shore motif which was beautiful. The thought put into the decor was incredible.

Our server was very prompt and took our drink orders right away. That was a welcome change from the night before at the Jefferson. We were obviously both having the buffet so we went ahead and got our food. I was very impressed with the selection and quality of the food. Coming from coastal South Carolina, I’m quite picky about seafood, but this stuff was great. The dessert bar had at least 15 different things to choose from as well.

Will and I stuffed ourselves to the point I wasn’t sure I could walk. I bought two t-shirts with the Captain George logo on them ($16 each) and our total for food was $65 before tip. That was a little steep since seafood around here is rather inexpensive, but the atmosphere was worth every penny.

In closing, I would highly recommend this place. The food is excellent and there is something to be said about having dinner in a place with a waterfall and stream. It might be a little pricey for large families, but the quality of the food is worth every penny, which is certainly not the case with many of the other places I’m sure!

Old Chickahominy House

Sunday morning Will and I headed off to the Old Chickahominy House. I read about this place online and knew I had to try it while there, and I am so glad I did.

We arrived rather early, I guess around 9:15am. The wait was only 5 minutes, which gave me time to look around the gift shop. The items in the shop were nice and it was a good blend of antique and new items.

We both ordered the two eggs, ham, and biscuit combos; mine with water, Will had coffee. The service was quick…our food was on the table within 10 minutes. Everything was so delicious, especially the biscuits.

Our total, minus tip was around $10, which was very reasonably priced. Out of all of our meals, I think I enjoyed this one the most. I’m not sure if it was the simplicity of the food or the fact that Will and I were tucked away in this small dining room that only had four tables. It was certainly a welcome change to be in a restaurant and actually be able to carry on a conversation with my husband. Niceand peaceful indeed. I would highly recommend this place, and can’t wait to get back there again.

Categories
Road Trip

Our Best Family Trip — National Parks of the U.S.

Author: Bob W.
Date of Trip: July 2001

Our best family vacation took us to many national parks on a circular route through the USA. I had been invited to attend a week of meetings in Seattle hosted by the Conference of State Legislatures. My unused vacation time totaled five weeks. So we planned six weeks of driving around the country. Our son (14) and daughter (approaching 10) were the perfect age to enjoy the trip. Imagine — they were at peace with each other and with us for the entire trip!

The initial drive west from New Jersey was hard slogging. Two days put us in Madison, WI, where we visited the capitol building (easily one of the most beautiful in the nation) and stayed in a motel that was hosting a group driving some of the finest custom cars and hotrods I’ve seen. Then to Minneapolis to visit relatives. From there to South Dakota where we visited Hell’s Half Acre, Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park (which has over 2,000 free-roaming bison).

Our first major park destination was Grand Teton where we spent two nights in a cabin facing Jackson Lake. The kids loved to paddleboat, while we admired the spectacular view. We drove to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, late afternoon, visited the great Wyoming State Fair, and saw our first coyote. If you’ve never seen pig wrestling or a mule race, don’t miss the fair! And you haven’t experienced anything until you’ve ducked fireworks overturned by a dust storm! The “pig rasslin” was hilarious. Picture a round enclosure holding foot-deep mud with the consistency of pudding. After a large pig is lowered into the enclosure, a team of two men or women contestants climb or dive into the enclosure. Slipping and falling in the mud, they try to beat the clock while lifting the struggling, mud-covered pig into a barrel, hindquarters first.

We greeted the dawn beside Jenny Lake and Spring Pond, photographing the spectacular mountains and foliage reflected in the calm waters of early morning. From the Tetons, we entered Yellowstone National Park. For three days we drove the loop drives, seeing bison, mountain goats, a grizzly bear, elk and moose close up. Aside from the cascading lower and upper falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, there was beautiful Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful and other geysers, and fumeroles, hot springs and steaming cauldrons enough to satisfy everyone.

We bypassed Glacier National Park to conserve time. Driving west we stopped in Montana towns with posted populations of 5 and 7 people. For folks from NJ that was an unusual experience. Then on to Washington state where we detoured north into Canada. When we resumed travel the next morning, we realized that it was a Saturday and every Canadian with a travel trailer or motor home was in front of us on the winding two lane highway! We arrived in Vancouver late afternoon and visited Granville Island the next morning (where the kids were fascinated by the floating houses). Then into the busy international customs area and on to Seattle. While I attended five days of meetings, the kids rested from all that driving, enjoyed watching TV and thoroughly enjoyed their visits to Seattle’s Science Center and aquarium.

Next destination was Crescent City, California, and Redwood National Forest. Driving our car through a tunnel in a tree and seeing how far our arms would reach around the circumference of these ancient and magnificant trees kept the kids entertained. Then to San Francisco. We hiked from our motel to Fisherman’s Wharf, then boarded a cable car to Chinatown for a great meal — or were we just ravenously hungry? The next morning we again hiked to Fisherman’s Wharf to watch a gathering of great ships celebrating the 40th anniversary of VJ Day. Cruising the bay were the carrier USS Enterprise, the Battleship New Jersey and the Missile Cruiser Arizona, among others. We boarded a passenger ferry for a close view of these great ships.

Having entered San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge, we left via the Oakland Bridge — both spectacular! Then on to Yosemite National Park where we stayed for two nights in a platform tent in the midst of the park. No need to tell anyone how beautiful Yosemite is. From Yosemite, we drove through rolling hills covered with vineyards to our destination in Santa Monica where we enjoyed the beautiful beach and visited with old school friends. Next stop was Anaheim for a visit to Disneyland. Of course, we were lined up buying our tickets at noon on an August Sunday. Crowded? You bet! But fun.

On Monday we headed on to the Arizona desert. Then to spectacular Grand Canyon where we stayed near the rim. I think we must have hit every stop along the canyon, finally staying on the north side for a night. From there we went on to visit Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon, each with its own incredible geological features. We continued north to Arches National Park where we viewed and climbed the red sandstone arches.

Still not satiated, we next drove to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. We were lucky to be able to rent a room in a park motel on the mesa. The kids loved feeding crackers to the tame deer (bucks and does) who came up to our deck for a handout. We spent the next day climbing down to the amazing anasazi cliff dwellings.

There were long day’s drives and interesting views on the return trip, with a stop in Evansville, Indiana to visit friends. Despite a total of six weeks and 9,500 miles of driving spent in a small car crammed with all manner of items, we and our kids look back on this trip in awe of the many experiences and sights we enjoyed together. The trip album is opened often many years later.

Categories
Family Travel

Hot Springs and Hot Pools of Idaho

Author: momoftwo
Date of Trip: January 2001

There is nothing better than soaking in a pool in what seems the middle of nowhere, either after a long hike or first thing in the morning after sleeping on the hard ground all night. Here are the places I have visited so far and my impressions of them.

When walking to the Granite Hot Pool, my then 2.5-year-old son took one look at the falls below him, pointed and uttered, “Awesome.” We didn’t even know he knew that word, but he summed up all of our feelings that day.

One suggestion: A great guide book to have with you is “Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Northwest” by Jayson Loam and Marjori Gersh.

Best Way to Get Around

Car, snowmobile, cross-country skis, your feet. Most places, you’ll have to drive most of the way and then hike in, but some are surprising just off the side of the road.

Lava Hot Springs

This little town is only a short drive from home so we visit it quite often. The whole town of revolves around wonderful Geothermal Pools.

Our favorite pools are the Geothermal Pools at the east end of town that are open 363 days a year. I love the gravel bottoms of the Roman-style pool in a sunken garden. Sitting and soaking here with the feel of small pebbles between your feet is so romantic. There are two other partly-shaded hydrojet pools. The temperature of all the pools is around 107 degrees.

The pools cost $5.50 for adults aged 12 and up, $5 for children aged 4 to 12. For an additional $1.25 you can come and go as you please during the day; this is a nice feature, as we often go and get lunch in town and then come back and soak again.

Massage is also available on the premises, but I would make reservations beforehand, or as soon as you get there, to ensure you get a spot.

There are several hotels in town that have natural hot-spring pools on their premises: Riverside Inn and Home Hotel and Motel.

Nat-Soo-Pah Hot Springs

My family and I took a road trip in August, and our first stop was just outside Twin Falls, Idaho, at Nat-Soo-Pah hot springs. For $7, we pitched our tent on the grass of the large tree-filled lot.

The rates for the pool were just as reasonable–under $15 for two adults, a 5-year-old, and an infant. The staff was totally friendly and very helpful. The facilities consisted of three swimming pools of natural mineral water flowing out of a spring at 99 degrees, while the soaking pool was kept at 104 to 106 degrees. There is also a fun water slide at the side of the large swimming pool. You can bring inflatables or rent tubes or sliding pads that also float. Great for lounging, and worth the $2 rental fee. With a stamp, you are free to come and go throughout the day.

Locker rooms, snack bar, picnic area, overnight camping, and RV hookups are available on the premises. Keep in mind before you get there, the nearest store and service station are 4 miles away, and it’s 16 miles to the nearest motel. No credit cards are accepted, so best to bring cash. They do have firewood for sale at the front. Open from May 1 to Labor Day.

This little side trip was the highlight of our trip, and my 5-year-old is still asking us to go back.

Russian John Hot Spring

Another just-off-the-road natural pool, this is the remains of an old sheepherder soaking pool on a slope 200 yards above the highway in Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Although it is “open” all year round, the temperature rarely gets above 89 degrees. While we were here, we were the only ones around, so it was quite a nice little soak. This is a small pool, so you may have to wait if any one else is visiting.

Directions: On ID 75, 30 yards south of mile marker 146, turn west and then south to the parking area. From the parking area, it is only a short distance to the spring. Local custom is clothing-optional.

Warfield Hot Spring

This is a great little pool just off the side of the road and is easily accessible to everyone. It’s certainly a fun little place to stop and soak if you’re in the Sun Valley area.

We visited in the spring, when there was still snow on the ground. Half the fun of going to these volunteer-built pools is the feeling of roughing it–no locker rooms!

Directions: From ID 75 (Main St.) in Ketchum, drive 10.6 miles west along Warm Springs Road. The spring is visible from the road . . . so bathing suits are advisable although not required.

Natural mineral water accumulates in the shallow rock-and-sand pool at temperatures of about 102 degrees. This pool is big enough for several people and, while we were there, we shared it with a very colorful old-timer who was full of stories about the area. So grab your suit (or not) and head to Warfield.

Categories
Budget Travel Cities Family Travel Outdoors Road Trip Romantic Travel Weekend Getaways

9 Classic Weekend Getaways That Are Better in Fall

It’s not just the cool weather and shoulder-season discounts that make fall such a good time of the year to travel—Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day let you stretch a few of your weekends into mini-vacations, too. But even when you don’t have three days to get away, you can still squeeze a weekend escape into any fall weekend. Here are nine classic weekend getaways from across the U.S. that you can do on a modest budget.

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Booking Strategy Money Travel Scams

What to Do When a Hotel Tries to Screw You

You’ve carefully picked out the perfect hotel and made a reservation. But then you show up and nothing goes as planned. Maybe they assign you a terrible room. Maybe they’ve lost your reservation altogether. When these or other worst-case-scenario hotel disasters strike, here’s what to do.

When the Hotel Loses Your Reservation

[st_content_ad]Your best line of defense against a lost reservation is to plan ahead. Call a few days before you arrive to confirm your booking, and have a copy of your reservation saved on your phone or printed out. If you’ve paid a deposit, make sure you point that out, too (since you’ll have proof from your credit card company). If the hotel has space, it should accommodate you. If it can’t, insist that it helps you find a room at a nearby property at no additional cost to you.

When the Hotel Gives You a Bad Room

You’re going to get stuck next to the ice machine or the elevator eventually. If you’ve scored the worst room in the hotel but it still qualifies as the room category you paid for, there’s not much you can do except politely ask for a new room.

Make the request immediately upon getting to your room (without touching anything) so that the hotel staff doesn’t have to clean the room again if they move you. And if you can, check-in early so that there will be more empty rooms for you to choose from.
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When the Hotel Walks You to Another Hotel

Sometimes, being “walked” to another hotel (in which your original hotel is overbooked, so it has to pay to put you up somewhere else) works in your favor. You’ll generally be taken to a place that’s either the same level or nicer than your original hotel, and you may be offered some freebies to make up for the hassle.

The downside: If you booked a stay longer than one night, you may have to deal with the inconvenience of changing rooms/properties multiple times. Negotiate for additional freebies, a nicer room category, or the ability to stay at the new hotel for your entire stay. The hotel knows that it’s in the wrong here, so it should bend over backwards to accommodate you.

When the Hotel Tries to Downgrade You

When the hotel downgrades you to an inferior room class, you have two options. If you don’t really care about your room, you should simply ask to be compensated for the difference in price between the room level that you received and the one that you booked. But if you had your heart set on a nicer room, insist on being upgraded rather than downgraded if your original room level isn’t available.

If the hotel is fully booked and can’t accommodate your request for an update, it should refund you the price difference. You may also be able to negotiate for additional perks to make up for the hassle, such as a late checkout.

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When the Hotel Authorizes Your Credit Card for a Large Amount without Telling You

Hotels often hold a large amount of money on your credit card in case you damage the room. The money is never actually taken out of your account, but you don’t have access to it while the hold is in place. If the hotel doesn’t give you advanced notice that it’s doing this, and you have limited credit available, ask the front desk staff to lower the hold or split the amount across multiple cards. Hotels are generally willing to work with you on this.

When the Hotel Hits You with Sneaky Fees

A recent NYU report found that U.S. hotels collect about $2.5 billion in fees and surcharges each year. These fees, which can range from resort fees to mini-bar restocking surcharges, inflate your bill and may catch you off-guard at checkout.

Make sure you read the fine print on your bill when making your reservation so you’ll at least be prepared. If you don’t want to pay certain fees, ask at check-in if the hotel will waive access to certain amenities (like the hotel gym) in order to let you skip the fee.

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When the Hotel Charges You for Movies or Minibar Items You Didn’t Use

Electronic minibars are the worst—they’re equipped with sensors that will automatically charge you if you remove an item, even if you’re simply moving it so that you can fit in your own food or drinks. This can lead to an uncomfortable confrontation at checkout. Most hotels will take your word for it if you say you didn’t take anything from the minibar or order a movie that you’ve been charged for, but if the hotel doesn’t believe you, your best option is to dispute the charge with your credit card company.

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Follow Caroline Morse’s travels on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline and on Twitter @CarolineMorse1.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.