Whether you’re a luxury traveler who seeks out iconic grandeur, or a budget-traveler whose Eat, Pray, Love experience is best done in a hostel or an Airbnb, hotels can be a wonderful way to spend time on vacation. They offer comforts and convenience that are hard to replicate when traveling on a shoestring or staying with family and friends.
But they can also add up, especially in high-demand destinations. A hotel room in New York or Los Angeles may cost twice as much this year than it did last year due to general inflation pressures that affect everything from worker wages to property costs to interest payments on hotel debt.
In addition, many travelers are noticing higher fees on their hotel bills, particularly in restaurants and services like airport shuttles and massages. The reason is that these are all businesses that have been absorbing additional costs from the broader economy as they try to pass them along to their customers, Berg said. These added costs are squeezing profit margins in the hospitality industry, which in turn squeezes the bottom line of hotels, making them less able to pass on these increases to guests.
Aside from pricing, another important factor in choosing a hotel is the quality of customer service. While it’s difficult to judge a customer service experience at a hotel without actually visiting, there are a few key things to look for.
For starters, you should always read the reviews of the hotel you’re considering. But it’s important not to rely solely on the “most relevant” reviews that are displayed first—those might be skewed and can have little bearing on what you will experience. Instead, pay close attention to the trends that emerge from the hotel’s reviews, including how often guests complain about certain things such as Wi-Fi or noise, and consider those when deciding whether a hotel is right for you.
It’s also worth pointing out that hotels can sometimes hide fees in the fine print of their online listings, so it’s vital to check all the charges before booking. It’s common for hotels to charge resort fees or taxes, and some may even have hidden costs such as phone charges, staff gratuities or a mandatory service fee.
Finally, if possible, try to book a hotel during the off-season. This can help you save money on airfare and accommodations, and avoid the crowds at popular sights and attractions. The only caveat is to be sure that your chosen destination will be open during the off-season, so you’ll still have something to do during your trip. It’s a great way to see a familiar destination in a different light. It’s also a good opportunity to try some local cuisine that you wouldn’t normally be able to enjoy during the peak season.