I’ve been traveling a lot lately for work. A few weeks ago I stayed in a 5-star hotel in New Orleans that was pretty good… for the most part. The room wasn’t all that big, my view from the 29th floor wasn’t all that great as the hotel was only 2 blocks away from a bad part of town, the food was twice as much or even more at times than it would have been at a regular restaurant, the room smelled like someone might have smoked a cigarette or 3, and I had to go down 2 floors for ice because the one on my floor was broken.

Hotel Lobby, Salamanca (Spain), HDR
Marc via Compfight

Why was it a 5-star hotel then? I don’t really know, but I know it was huge and expensive and I was glad that someone else was picking up the tab.

Sometimes we equate how much something is with how glamorous it is. At the same time, sometimes people decide to save a few dollars by staying at a discount motel or hotel, figuring a room is a room; that’s not true either.

So, how do you decide what your comfort level is when it comes to hotels or motels and the cost?

I go by 4 rules of thumb; these aren’t for everyone but they’re mine.

1. Never stay at a motel. That’s my biggest rule of thumb and I’ve already alienated a bunch of people. My premise is that you’re never going to get quality at a motel, period. Sure, some are passable, and if that’s where your budget is then I have no issues with it. But most of my worst experiences have been in motels.

2. Chain hotels are fairly consistent, but don’t go top shelf. I’m a Hilton and Sheraton hotel member, and each has ranges of hotels that go from 3 star to 5 star. What I’ve found is that the 5 star hotels come with a lot of bells and whistles and might have a lot of fancy stuff, but they skimp on areas that are more important to someone like me. For instance, many of the top shelf hotels make you pay for internet access, even if you’re a member, and the speed is horrid. I’m not going to say that internet speed at 3 star hotels is great but in New Orleans I was getting less than 1 MBPS, and it wasn’t better in the lobby; that’s deplorable.

3. Location can tell you a lot about some hotels. I’ve found that if I stay in a place close to water that I have issues with spiders; no idea why. I stayed at one hotel where I got a great price via Orbitz where they had to move me twice because of this moldy smell. Overall this wasn’t a cheap hotel, but maybe because I got a price deal they didn’t care where they put me. If you can check the surroundings for where you’re going to be you might get a better idea of why they’re priced as they are.

4. Off-chain hotels, please read the reviews. I don’t stay at off-chain hotels all that often but I have been to a few resorts that have been fabulous. Expensive, but once again I didn’t have to pay for it. Large independents will always treat you better, even if they can run on the expensive side. If you’re looking for a relaxing time, that’s the way to go.

Very subjective subject I know so I’ll ask you how you decide to select your hotel room.

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