I’ve stayed at a ton of hotels in my lifetime, thanks to many years of business trips and occasionally a little to no lodging budget. Some of the best hotels included the Soho Grand, The Mondrian, The W in New Orleans, Atlanta and NYC, The Shore Club and my personal favorite, The Hotel at the Mandalay Bay. Not the shit hole part of the Mandalay Bay but the modern hotel, literally called The Hotel.
As I changed jobs and the business travel winded down, the soccer tournaments winded up. Over the past few years, I’ve been tasked to find the best hotels for 10 families at a time. Tonight, I was looking for a hotel for 25 families. Though my husband is the admin of the team, he leaves the hotel choosing and booking to me. Some admins do 0 research to find a room and this royally pisses me off.
“Ehhh, it’s 3 minutes from the field. I’m sure they’ve cleaned up the bed bug problem.”
When I book rooms, I do my homework. I read reviews and look at pictures. I go on Trip Advisor and look at the traveler’s pictures because they are usually remarkably different from the professional photographer’s photos. Magically, photographers have a way of turning a walk-in closet to seem like the west wing of a mansion. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I see their photos which stop me from booking a pantry size room.
So here is what I’ve learned when booking hotels. Below are some red flags you shouldn’t ignore. Additionally, I’ve added some research tips when looking for the perfect hotel. It’s your hard-earned money. Why not make it go far?
Tips for Avoiding a Shit Hole Hotel
- Pictures of flowers or night stands. When one of the primary pictures includes flowers on a nightstand or just a nightstand, your room will be smaller than a pack and play. They literally have nothing else to photograph.
- When you go on Trip Advisor to read reviews, query bed bugs. You will immediately be brought to any reviews with bed bugs for that hotel. Once when a soccer mom booked a hotel in Kentucky, it was a complete shit hole. Though convenient, there was a liquor store in the parking lot, just to give you an idea of what we were dealing with. After the fact, I queried bed bugs. Turns out, there were bed bugs in the room directly across from us. Eeww…..
- Hampton Inn does this all the time and it pisses me off. They update the lobby/common room but pay no attention to the hotel rooms. So you have this modern lobby (the hotel I mentioned in point 2 did this) that is beautiful then these shit hole rooms that haven’t been touched since 1989. Make sure you are clicking through all pictures to ensure they updated the rooms too.
- Suites aren’t always suites. Why do hoteliers call their hotel a suite, just because they throw a sofa in the same room as the beds? That’s not a suite. And what is borderline patronizing? They’ll throw up this 1/4 partition between the sofa and the lumpy bed. Uhh, the kids can still hear us having sex so technically we can’t, and this isn’t a suite. Once, a modern, just built La Quinta showed a 2 room suite. When I called to confirm our suite, they conveyed the picture was inaccurate and really it was just 1 big room. Call to confirm.
- In room hot tubs are a huge red flag. Once an indulgence of the 80’s and 90’s, if the hotel is photographing the fact that they have hot tubs in some of the rooms, avoid the hotel. Modern hotels don’t put hot tubs in the rooms anymore.
- As you can see, I rely a lot on pictures. I’ve found they can be very telling of what your experience will be like. If there is a strong mix of on site photography with stock photos, this is a red flag. If there are several pictures of breakfast foods and business men in meetings, that’s a huge red flag.
So what did I miss? Those are just a few guidelines I use when booking hotels. What are yours?