9 Ways to Avoid a Bad Hotel Stay

A million things can go wrong when you're staying in a hotel, but here are 9 simple ways to make sure everything goes right

Credit: iStock / DoxaDigital

Avoid hassles with your hotel booking with these nine easy tips

How to get the right hotel room at the right price with the best service

Booking the right hotel and ensuring a smooth stay can be the toughest part of a trip. Not only do you have to sift through dozens of hotels in your desired location to find one that is clean, safe and offers the amenities you require, but you also have to find something within your budget that offers the services you need.

Follow these tips to get a great rate on a great room and have a smooth, hassle-free hotel stay:

Get a Lower Hotel Rate

  • Ask for rate matching: Call the hotel directly if a third party like Expedia offers a lower rate. Most hotels will match, or even beat, any advertised price. Also, make sure you confirm the hotel’s cancellation policy; the lowest possible available rate is usually non-refundable and non-cancellable.
  • Check the fine print on coupons: If you find a great deal on a discounted site such as Groupon, check the fine print. The most popular dates like long weekends or city-wide events are usually unavailable and these might overlap with your travel plans.
  • Ask for an upgrade: Don’t be shy to ask for an upgrade prior to checking in. Better rooms are often available and most front desk agents do have the authority to move you. Be mindful that this is at request only so your approach can be a determining factor.

Take a Shuttle

  • Ask about a hotel shuttle: Shuttle information may not always be on the hotel’s website, but be sure to ask the reservations desk anyway. This will likely be cheaper than taking a taxi from the airport.
  • Book before you check out: Arrange for a shuttle or taxi the night before you check out. If you have a late flight the hotel may be willing to store your luggage so you can plan an activity for the day instead of camping at the airport.

Fast-track Check-in and Check-out

  • Check on early check-in: If you will be arriving at your destination well before check-in time, let the hotel know in advance. Most hotels will allow you to check in if a clean room is available; otherwise they can store your bags and let you know as soon as a room is ready.
  • Inspect the room first: Inspect the room before you start unpacking your bags. If there is an issue, such as a leaky faucet or faulty TV, let the front desk know immediately so they can move you and your luggage quickly and efficiently.
  • Review your bill at check out before paying. Common unexpected additions can be items from the mini-bar or Internet fees. If you did not use any of those amenities, let the desk know so they can remove the charge right away. Keep in mind that even if your reservation is pre-paid, the hotel will still authorize a certain amount on your credit card in case of incidentals. This amount gets released at check out, but may appear as a charge on your credit card statement for several days.

Take Advantage of Free Services

  • Ask staff for help: Make use of the concierge on-site or the front desk staff when looking for city tours, hard-to-get concert tickets or dinner reservations. This will also help you build a good rapport with the staff, who will then look after you for the duration of your stay or when you return.

Staying at a hotel can be stressful, but these simple methods can ensure a pleasant experience. Don’t forget to tip the bellperson and your housekeeper for the service they provide; they will appreciate your acknowledgement and continue to ensure a good visit.

If your stay exceeds your expectations, write a review on Trip Advisor highlighting the pros and cons so that other travellers may also benefit from your trip. You may even get a response from the manager and an incentive to stay there again.