5 things to know when booking a hotel

Booking a holiday? These tips will help you choose the best hotel for your next trip.

In a new series of The Hotel Inspector, world-renowned hotelier Alex Polizzi visits some of Britain's most shambolic hotels in need of her advice to turn their businesses around.

So you don't end up in staying in a similarly run-down, poorly-managed hotel during your next long-awaited holiday, we've compiled our top tips to help you book a seamless hotel stay, so you can get the R&R you deserve.

1. Look beyond the photos

Don’t be fooled by the perfect images you see on a hotel’s website - they've likely paid a great deal of money for a professional photographer to capture these shots, and may sometimes use fish-eye lenses and studio lighting to make the rooms appear bigger and more beautiful than they are in reality.

Dig through travel reviews and social media for more accurate, less-airbrushed photos taken by guests, which will give you a more realistic view of what the hotel looks like.

2. Check the map

Found a cheap hotel? Check the location on a map before booking anything. Hotels outside of the main CBD are usually cheaper than those closer or more conveniently-located, so don't be fooled by a low price.

If the hotel isn't close to town, restaurants and public transport links, consider the time and cost taxis to and from the hotel could add.

Of course, if you're after somewhere a little quieter, then a more remote location may be perfect for you, so check whether the hotel is on a busy main road or next to noisy clubs.

3. Read the fine print

Is tax included? How about breakfast and wi-fi? What’s the cancellation policy?

Most reputable hotels will spell out these costs from the outset, but some countries do not include tax in the advertised price and the final cost could be much higher than you budgeted for.

If your plans change and you need to cancel your booking, you don't want to be locked into paying the cost of your entire stay - look for a hotel with a reasonable or flexible cancellation policy.

Paying attention to these details can save you money down the line.

4. Shop around and time it right

Save money on hotels by shopping around and waiting for special deals. Some hotels will offer early-bird specials and others will offer discounts on last-minute stays.

Newly-opened hotels also offer discounts on their rooms within the first few weeks or month of opening - check online to find recently-opened hotels in the area you're looking to stay.

Rates will be much lower during the off-peak season, so if you can time your trip around quieter months, you'll likely save some cash. Hotel comparison websites can help make sure you're getting the best deal.

Be patient and do your research!

5. Read reviews

Scour guest reviews for any red flags or glowing remarks about the hotel before you book. Your fellow guests are more likely to give their candid opinions than paid-for reviews or featured testimonials on a hotel's website.

You’ll uncover important details not listed on the hotel’s official website, such as the best room types, level or side of the hotel to request, what the service is like, whether rooms are clean, how generous the breakfast is and whether or not the rooms are noisy.

For more in-the-know advice from an award-winning hotelier, don’t miss the new series of Hotel Inspector - Mondays at 9.45pm on Lifestyle

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