How do you choose a hotel?
One of the key factors that can really make or break your dream vacation or adventurous expedition is a your accommodation. Nothing kills your travelling buzz quicker than a hotel nightmare, but equally, what could possibly have been just a run-of-the-mill vacation can be elevated to something really memorable if you get the accommodation spot-on.
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Here’s some hints and tips on how to choose the right hotel.
Match the accommodation to your style of vacation
It’s really important when you’re looking at which accommodation to book, that you’re thinking about the style of vacation that you’re wanting to have.
If it’s a quick city-break for a couple of nights, then you need to be in a comfortable hotel that’s in a great central location so that you can walk everywhere. If you’re spending a week by a beach or in the snow, then a self-contained apartment will probably suit you better. If you’re going trekking in the jungles of Cambodia, then it doesn’t make much sense to be looking for five-star accommodation.
Be realistic about your budget
Where a lot of complaints about hotels and accommodation providers come from is when guests feel that they haven’t got what they were expecting. That what they were promised in the brochure or online is not what they found when they checked in.
Much of this confusion is created by passengers who are looking for a bargain but are dreaming of five-star luxury. If a hotel seems to be inexpensive, there’s probably a reason for that. If a hotel says that it is a 3-star standard, then that is a long way from 5-star, so if you’re only prepared to pay for 3-star then you can’t really complain if what you get is simple, functional, and probably a bit dated.
You need to have a clear understanding of what you’re prepared to compromise on in order to meet the budget that you’ve allocated for your accommodation.
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Online reviews are a guide only
Don’t be too obsessed about reading online reviews – they reflect the opinion and experience of that specific traveller, someone who may have completely different expectations to you. Online reviews can be a useful guide in terms of identifying a few potential accommodation options that meet your criteria, but make sure you do your own research and form your own opinions as to whether your chosen accommodation is going to be right for you.
If you want some amazing hotel experiences, here’s a couple of suggestions.
- An oasis of calm amidst the heat and frenetic energy of one of Asia’s greatest cities, the Banyan Tree has some real stand-out features that make it a destination in its own right.
- Opened in 2002, the Banyan Tree is 61 floors and 327 rooms - all featuring natural wood, silk, and maximum natural light.
- The hotel’s swimming pool is a total treat - outdoors on the 21st floor, cool down in the water and then work on your tan while admiring the spectacular views across Bangkok.
- The Spa at Banyan Tree is a definite step up on most hotel offerings.
- At the very top of the hotel is a fantastic bar and restaurant. The lights of Bangkok are a long way beneath you as you contemplate a lychee martini or three.
- The Berkeley Hotel in West London’s Knightsbridge perfectly encapsulates everything that’s great about London.
- This is a hotel that has everything you need for a luxury weekend mini-break. The design throughout the hotel is chic and timeless - and the rooms are a total dream.
- The rooftop pool has stunning views across Knightsbridge and Hyde Park, and opens to the sunshine in warmer weather. Complementing this is a professional and sleek spa offering every treatment you could dream of.
- The bars and restaurants of The Berkeley are one of it’s strengths - whether it’s cocktails in the sexy Blue Room, the super-stylish high tea that takes its inspiration from the latest catwalk trends, or a late night burger in the Caramel Room – you can’t help but feel a little bit smug and in-the-know that you’re experiencing London at its best.
- Part of the Intercontinental hotel group, Le Grand oozes old world hotel grandeur.
- Centrally located in the ninth arrondissement of the French capital, Le Grand is one of iconic establishments of the Opera district and a short stroll to some of the city’s best shopping.
- If you were going to hold any sort of conference or meeting in Paris I’d do it at Le Grand – a dinner in the spectacular le Salon Opera has real wow-factor
- The palm-filled La Verriere restaurant is a massive 800 square meter winter garden that dominates the lobby and provides the best spot for people watching.
- Perched on the top 14 floors of a 52 story skyscraper in Tokyo’s West Shinjuku, a major business, shopping and entertainment district, the Park Hyatt is an under-stated but superb hotel experience.
- With only 177 rooms, the hotel is intimate by Asian standards, yet spacious and serene, with the largest standard guest rooms in Tokyo.
- The clever and sophisticated construction of this 235 meter high, three-tower configuration by architect Dr Kenzo Tange has been complemented perfectly by Hong Kong-based, American interior designer John Morford who has designed the hotel to feel like a small, elegant, personal residence.
- The views from the hotel are spectacular . On a clear day Mount Fuji is so clear and seems so close that it feels like you can almost reach out and touch it.
- Rooms are beautifully appointed and incredibly spacious. Service throughout the hotel is so good it is beyond extraordinary.
- One of the stand-out features of the hotel is the pool and spa complex. Situated on the 47th floor, not only are the panoramic views overwhelming, but the roof-top atrium maximises natural light for the 20m pool. The spa complex – with a range of whirlpools and saunas- is indulgent and intimate.
- It’s difficult to imagine a better hotel experience.
- This is a fully catered private villa with spectacular views across the island and out to sea.
- Swim in the fantastic infinity pool, work on your tan, and eat delicious Thai banquets freshly prepared by the in-house chef.
- This is an environmentally friendly hotel in every sense - right down to self-composting toilets which – while initially a little confronting – work very effectively.
- Make sure you eat at their in-house restaurant – not only is the food amazing, but the dining room opens out into the courtyard, so on a warm summer evening it really is a magical experience.
- Bali is quite a popular vacation destination for Australians, and also does a pretty brisk trade in weddings for people looking for that idyllic tropical experience.
- The Ayana Resort is more than you could hope a tropical resort hotel would be - beautiful swimming pools, top drawer service, a quality spa, and endless days of hanging out and drinking too many cocktails.
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- Your accommodation can really make or break a skiing holiday, but it’s hard to imagine anything better than the accommodation offered by The Peak in the small French resort of Sainte Foy.
- This is a fully catered chalet, with only eight bedrooms. It has direct access to the first lift - so getting on and off the slopes was a breeze.
- The Peak also includes an in-house spa offering Elemis treatments. While saunas and steam rooms are fairly standard in the snow, being able to pad quietly downstairs for a proper sports massage after a hard day of skiing is a real treat.
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- Blanket Bay is just outside of Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island.
- Built in the style of a luxury hunting lodge, this is the kind of place where they’ll happily arrange for a private helicopter tour of nearby Milford Sound – which is totally worth doing, it’s breathtakingly beautiful.
- Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands is an enormous development. It includes a casino and shopping centre, as well as a hotel that seems primarily designed for conferences and business travellers.
- It’s far from perfect, but what makes it worth checking out is the sheer ambition of its three soaring towers capped with an infinity pool that stretches out across its rooftops.