The Surprising Secret to Finding a Great Hotel

Even if you’ve never been to a destination, you’ve already got the vital information you need to find the perfect hotel.

Even if you’ve never been to a destination, you’ve already got the vital information you need to find the perfect hotel.

When we talked to the hotel experts at our sister-site—these are people who spend a lot of time inspecting and photographing hotels around the world—they reminded us of something important but easy to lose sight of in the quest to find the perfect hotel. It’s this simple truth: “Often when evaluating which hotel to book, neither is going to be clearly better than the other.”

But … there might be a hotel that’s better for you. To figure this out, you need to understand your preferences before you sit down to book. Oyster says, “It will come down to what is a priority for you—do you care about having a bigger pool or bigger rooms?” Or, is being centrally located everything to you, room size be damned?

“The more you can hone in on your individual priorities, the easier it will be to make your booking decision,” suggest the editors. Here are some of the categories you can use to assess your hotel style:

  • Space: Do you need a larger hotel room? Or, do you need a bit of extra sitting space?
  • Modernity: Do dated hotel rooms totally bum you out? Or do you appreciate a little vintage charm?
  • Location: Do you want to be in the center of everything, or do you not mind being outside the city center? If you’re not planning on renting a car, be sure to research public transportation options before committing to a farther-out hotel.
  • Extras: Is a pool a must? A gym? A good hotel restaurant or bar? How about a hotel spa?
  • Your personal style: Some people love cool; others find a hip vibe repellant. Be honest with yourself about where you fall on the spectrum.

Before you start researching hotels for your next trip, take a few minutes to be honest with yourself about your priorities, and the preferences of anyone you’ll be traveling with. This way, you’ll be able to spot your perfect hotel when you see it.

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: The Trtl Pillow. It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto: Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Aisle all the way.

Email Christine Sarkis at

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