How to Pick the Right Hotel
Your hotel experience can make or break a trip. If you are a senior traveler, it is important to make sure that you get the right accommodations. Here are some practical advice...
Before you book a hotel, you need to determine what is most important to you. Ask yourself:
What type of accommodations do you want?
Do you need a hotel with a spa and fitness center or would you rather stay at a small bed-and-breakfast with lots of local charm?
What does your budget permit?
For example, are you limited to lodging under $150 a night?
Once you decided on your priorities, then you can make a more targeted search based on price and location. Below you will find the most important criteria in choosing a hotel, as well as tips for finding properties that suit your particular needs.
Nearly every major booking engine gives the option to sort your results by price. Don't limit yourself to the big three (Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz) -- you should also pay a visit to other booking sites like CEOmobile.com and kayak.com. And don't forget to check our very own discount hotel deals!
If price is your only concern, you may want to try bidding on Priceline.com, where you won't see the name of the hotel (only the star rating) until you've actually booked it.
Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating a hotel:
Does it offer airport shuttle service?
Is it close to major attractions and local restaurants?
How safe is the neighborhood?
What is the hotel's cancellation policy?
What facilities are available for the disabled?
Is it noise-free? Seniors who are sensitive to loud noise might prefer a room in a peaceful alley, away from the noises of the restaurant or nearby playgrounds.
Once you pick a hotel that has a satisfactory price and location, check to see if it includes senior-friendly features that apply to you, such as accessible building access and accessible bathrooms. Other senior-specific amenities to consider include:
Accessibility equipment for the deaf and hearing-impaired
Handicapped or valet parking
Hotel room telephones with amplifying options
Most of the major hotel booking websites allow you to specify certain amenities in your search, such as a fitness center, swimming pool, spa, or restaurant. CEOmobile, the travel site dedicated to senior travelers, makes the process easier by allowing you to search based on factors such as star rating, amenities, rates, room types, and free meals.
Next, spend some time reading hotels reviews online and contact hotels if you have specific questions. You may also want to take advantage of various money-saving hotel loyalty programs.
Many review sites allow users to post photos of their hotel -- which are usually more realistic and less glamorous than the professional snapshots provided on the hotel's website.
Thumbs up/thumbs down ratings -- Of course, it is always a good idea to take traveler reviews with a certain degree of skepticism. Overly fawning reviews may actually have been written by hotel employees in disguise, while some negative reviews may come from super-fussy travelers who simply have an ax to grind. Despite the occasional misleading review, traveler ratings are usually honest, unbiased, and valuable resources when deciding on a hotel.
Contact Local Hotel
Although you can do most of your research online, it can still pay to contact the hotel directly by phone. Hotel employees can tell you more about the available amenities and possibly provide accommodations at the last minute or during peak travel times.
Hotel Loyalty Programs and Frequent Flier Miles
You may want to consider joining a hotel loyalty program if you plan to travel a lot during your retirement. This will help earn points toward a future hotel stay and accumulate airline miles if your hotel is partnered with your frequent flier program. Some programs also allow you to redeem points for your travel toward cruises, car rentals, and entertainment. Visit your favorite airline or hotel websites to see a list of qualifying partners.