Finding the number one spot to rest your head on your vacay is quite a hard task. If you get it wrong, that means sleepless nights, turning to mood swings, equals the holiday from hell. However, get it right, and everything runs smoothly.
I spend a lot of time researching the best hotels, apartments, villas (depends on the holiday) as I have a few non-negotiables and have experienced some god awful accommodations. I do not want you to go through this hassle. Here's my process for choosing the near perfect travel accommodation.
1. The Non-Negotiables
Before I even start researching, I have set out my absolute musts and avoidances for my choice of accommodation. For me, I have to be in a location that is central (no hidden costs for taxi's) yet not in a touristy area, if I can help it. Secondly, it has to be fairly luxurious but is value for money at the same time. Usually, I will only head to 4 star or above. Thirdly, I want accommodation that suits my personality and style, so I always make sure there is a general feeling of attraction (sounds a bit odd but hopefully you know what I am getting at)
So take a moment now to think about your Non-Negotiables, maybe you want a bar serving cocktails, or a bathtub, be as fussy as you want and keep this at the forefront of your mind.
Set your budget and stick to it! I struggle with budgets as I like to go for 4/5 star hotels, but a neat trick to help with this is to filter the price budget so you cannot see out of your price range. You don't want to blow your budget on your hotel, it's great to have a lovely hotel but you do only sleep there at the end of the day. It's worth saving money for the extra-curricular activities.
Decide on your location. What area do you want to be in? Do you want to be central or further out? Do you want to be near shops?
Do a little research around the location so you can pick the perfect area for you. For me, spending more money on taxi's to get around, really pees me off so I map out my fave spots on Google Maps and can see what location works. This may be a little extreme, however, this means you have a map of all the places you want to visit. It's a win win.
4. Google Search
Once I have these three categories clear, I head to Google and search for coolest hotels in... or unique hotels or best hotels in... I like to do this as you'll start to see the same hotels coming up time and time again.
Tripadvisor is a great tool, to check that the accommodation has good ratings. Now, take it with a pinch of salt as I have seen the most ridiculous complaints, one about the duvet being too thick! What Tripadvisor does allow is for you to make sure there is nothing glaringly awful with the accommodation and check out what other travellers have said about Breakfast, Dinner or amenities.
If you still aren't sure, why not use Tripadvisor's forum! I have asked many questions here and have received brilliant responses that have influenced my travel decisions.
I check the hotels that have made it to my list on Trivago first, it's an accommodation comparison site that finds you the lowest deals. You can filter on the left hand side to your specifications and even type the accommodation names if you do not want to do a general search.
If you want to buy now, pay later, Booking.com is a great option. Sometimes we just don't have that extra bit of cash to pay right there and then or you want to mooch around a bit more in case the price changes, which is often the case. For my New York trip, I managed to save $150 on a hotel by monitoring the price over 3 months - another little trick I like to do. I usually book a hotel on booking.com, then watch a couple of luxury hotels to see if they come down in price, as it's free cancellation, you have nothing to lose but could end up with better accommodation.
Sometimes I want a more local experience, in which case, Airbnb is my go to. With stunning properties worldwide and many offering reasonably priced digs per night - it's well worth checking out. It's also a great resource for last minute as well, for example, when I visited Salem during October (busiest time of the year) there were no hotels left, but I managed to snag a wonderful apartment at a fraction of the price. Winning.
As simple as that! It really doesn't take that long but it will make all the difference when you get to your destination knowing that it fits all your requirements.