The beauty of Tripadvisor is the combination of user supplied reviews/photos and information/photos provided by the hotel. The user supplied reviews are helpful, if read correctly. Thanks to Tripadvisor, I have found the best hotels in most of the destinations I visit, for my budget.
The best rated Tripadvisor hotels for most destinations are not always the 5-6 star $1000 night places – usually they are rated for value as well – and you’re very likely to find moderate hotels highly rated. You have to know how to read the reviews, however. Read the reviews for facts. Repeated current comments that a hotel is near a loud nightclub or an active construction site should be strongly considered. Isolated reports of rudeness at the front desk are more likely to be related to the behavior of the reviewer.
The other benefit of looking for hotels on Tripadvisor is the search function. When you enter your travel dates, you can click to search for rates on all the major travel discount sites.
But, don’t book yet! Often you will find that when you book through an online discounter like Expedia or Travelocity, the lower rate will require prepayment. Why don’t you want to prepay? Well, for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the longer the money is in your account, the better. And, plans change. Why be locked in when you can just cancel the hotel 24-48 hours in advance? Also, once you prepay and the hotel has your money – you don’t have the power someone who hasn’t yet paid. They have to keep you happy, or you can go to a nicer hotel. They have to give you a nicer room and are more likely to accommodate room change requests.
If the best rate you are finding has to be prepaid through an online travel agent, the next step is to check for special offers on the hotel’s own web site. If you don’t see anything close to the lowest rate you found online, email or call the hotel’s reservation department to ask if they will match the rate. They pay travel agents commission, even online ones – and it’s in their interest to let you book direct. It’s always better to call the individual property than the 800# reservation line, since many chain hotels are individually owned and operated. Often there are specials offered that you only discover by calling.
As long as you make sure to cancel in time to avoid charges, there is nothing wrong with holding one cancellable hotel room while you continue to search or wait for your first choice to become available, or drop in price. But be considerate and don’t hold rooms too long, especially at smaller hotels.
Once you’ve selected and booked your desired hotel, keep copies of confirmations and any written rate/room assignment discussions you’ve had with them. Print and bring these confirmations on your trip and keep copies on file until the bills arrive.
Be clear about the cancellation policy and set reminders on your Smartphone or paper calendar for the date/s hotels must be canceled without penalty.
Click here for a list of some of my favorite hotels.