What I have to look into, before booking a hotel

It’s only fitting, since I’m switching hotels due to (yet another) bad choice, I should write a list of what I look for in a hotel, to not only remind myself but to also solicit comments from others.

For example: Revanche did a fab job of tipping me off that cellphone chargers (left behind by patrons) are readily available at the hotel front desks all around the world. In doing so, I scored myself a free cellphone charger (they had 50 or so of the SAME one for Motorola), and saved myself $30 before tax.

My other things I look for are:

Wireless internet throughout the hotel

Or at least a wired LAN connection in the room, and I guess I will test to see whether our Belkin router will work! Wireless is much easier for me.

How much it costs to use the phone

Some hotels (like the ones in Montreal) charge per local call, but the toll free numbers are free. Others, don’t charge per local call, OR toll free numbers, and (obviously) charge long distance. Best bet: bring along your own international calling card and use that to call long distance, or even locally :\

Good fitness room

I don’t mean a sad little half inflated ball in the corner I mean a treadmill (at the very least) and free weights. Not all crammed into a small little closet either, enough space so others can work out beside you and not feel claustrophobic. A pool would also be nice, but not necessary.

Free breakfasts/newspapers

People underestimate the cost of getting a good hot free breakfast every morning with a free newspaper. That saves at least $13.50 a day (hotels charge through the nose for a convenient, hot breakfast). If it’s continental, I don’t really feel as benevolent towards it, but I’ll survive and munch on the available fruit.

A room away from the elevator

People are loud. People are louder, waiting for a slow elevator, or drunk in a big group, screaming at the top of their lungs because in their drunken state, they think the other person can’t hear them. Coupled with thin doors on most hotel rooms, and you can hear almost everything in the hallway if your room is right by the elevator.

Microwave + Bar Fridge

Most hotels have a microwave and a bar fridge. But I have definitely run across MANY Hilton hotels with NO fridge and NO microwave. Not exactly easy to store or heat up leftowvers. So now, before I go to any hotel, I ask if they have a microwave and a bar fridge, at the very least. Ideal, would be a full kitchen like the ones at the Marriott.

Space for my stuff

When you live out of suitcases, you want a lot of dresser space, and closet space.

A nice view

Sometimes, it’s nice to be able to look out the window and smile at the view, as well as take lots of cityline pictures. Not necessary, but certainly something I look for.


Is there someone at the front desk at all times? If not, how do other people get in at night – do they lock the doors and only let you in if you have a room card? Or can anyone walk in and use the elevators?

Who stays in the hotel

If it’s families, seniors and businesspeople, it’s fine. But rowdy University kids or shady characters milling about the lobby make me shy away from wanting to stay there.

Cost of an extra guest/person

Normally, hotels turn a blind eye/don’t know unless you tell them that you have a second person in the room. They just assume that person is staying at another hotel or another room, and just spending the night, or whatever. They can’t possibly remember everyone and everything…

But if you start having a whole family toting in and out, you have to declare everyone, and possibly pay a charge of $30/person/night extra which is a hefty chunk of change. So ask before you bring your family, how much it costs for one person, two, three, etc, and how much extra it might cost if your friend wants to visit for the week and sleep on the couch.


Is it an extra charge? Included? What about if people visit – do they park for free? For how long? How easy is it to get a parking pass, will it have to be daily, or weekly, or for a set period of time as determined by the hotel? The last hotel I was at, I had to go down, every week, and get a parking pass. I then had to walk to my car, and put that pass in the window. It wasn’t THAT huge of a deal, but it was just an extra annoyance considering they were supposed to be a “long term stay” hotel, and I was already trying to sort out my expenses for the hotel itself.

Towel/Linen Frequency

Some hotels don’t do towels and linens daily. They only do it every week, or every other day, or only during the week but not weekends. It pays to know, so you can conserve/save your towel until the maids are supposed to come in.

Thermostat that I can adjust in the room

If it’s too cold, I want to be able to adjust it. If it’s too hot, likewise. But some hotels do a standard temperature across the hotel without thinking about individual comforts or needs.

Any discounts I can haggle

If you’re staying for a significant amount of time – maybe 6 months or more, to a year, most hotels will haggle a better discount for you. Either no tax on the room, or free parking, or a free breakfast if it isn’t included.. something. Anything. I use the corporate discount, but if you’re a member of other rewards programs like CAA Roadside Service, they’ll give you a discount too.

Whether or not I have a hotel rewards program with them

The Hilton or the Marriott falls in line with this.

From experience, I personally prefer the Marriott because they tend to always have full kitchens, great staff, great deals, and free breakfasts/suppers included. Plus, their hotels are well kept, and much nicer to stay in long-term or for a week since they have appliancs like tea kettles, and stoves, unlike the Hilton chain. Hilton’s are fine for one night if you have to, but without a fridge or microwave in most of them, it isn’t worth it.

I have tried the following hotels so far: Radisson, Hilton (all), Marriott (Residence Inn is my favourite, but I’ve stayed at the Courtyard too), Hotel Du Fort in Montreal (pretty bad hotel, rude staff), Delta, Clarion, Comfort Suites, London Executive Suites (London, ON – worst hotel EVER).

And the Marriott Residence Inn beats them all out in terms of price, comfort, quality, and service.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.