How do you choose the right accommodation when travel starts up again? The usuals, like location and reviews, are still up there, but there are also new factors to consider.
Gone are the days when Instagram photos were enough to make you book a place to stay. You’ll want to choose accommodations that take their sanitation and safety protocols seriously — disinfecting and ventilating before the next guests use a room, enforcing physical distancing in common areas and requiring their staff to wear face masks. They should have sanitizer and alcohol dispensers in contact spots like the reception area and more frequent cleaning of elevators and other high-traffic areas.
Also ask about the procedures they have in place in case you or any other guest falls ill while staying at the facility; they should have isolation protocols and guidelines for contacting medical professionals and local authorities. Bonus points for contactless check-in and windows that can open to allow air to recirculate.
Location, Location, Location
It’s always a good idea to choose your accommodation based on its proximity to well-known landmarks and transport options. A simple search of your city of choice on Google Maps will yield hotel pins, making it easier to plan directions. The only downside to prioritizing location is usually the price point — but in certain destinations where safety could be an issue, especially at night, always remember that your well-being is priceless.
Get the whole picture
Remember to check when your accommodation of choice last updated its website and its images — if you’re looking for a regularly maintained place, the benchmark should be four years. Hotel review website Oyster.com reminds that even so, photographs can lie. Browse through its extensive catalog of hotel reviews and images written and taken by its “investigators” for a more balanced perspective.
Deal or No Deal
About to click “confirm booking” on that sweet hotel deal you saw online? Take a moment to check if the pre-discount rates are even accurate at all. Make sure you compare rates using tracking of historic prices so you can determine whether or not that too-good-to-be-true discount means anything, advises Hotel Planner’s CEO and co-founder Tim Hentschel. Hotel search platform Trivago offers a similar type of price index which helpfully charts the monthly and yearly rates of over two million hotels around the world. Also pay attention to the fine print like their cancellation and refund policies — you never know what’s going to happen!
Airbnb or Hotel?
We all know the simple joy of relaxing in a tried-and-tested hotel, but the rise in popularity of vacation rentals over the last decade can attributed to many happy bonuses: it’s a more casual form of holiday stay; there’s generally more space for you and your travel mates; there might be facilities you’d be hard pressed to find in a small hotel room (a kitchenette, for one!). Rental marketplaces online include the all-popular Airbnb, Homeaway and Tripping.com to name a few, where you’ll find options ranging from walk-up apartments to terrace houses and country cottages.
Whether you’re looking for a luxury getaway or a wallet-friendly break will determine how necessary some accommodation amenities are — and this is helpful when narrowing down the price range of potential stays. Online travel agency Travelocity allows you to compare the amenities, ratings and room types of up to four hotels side by side.
But is it even safe to use pool facilities these days? The World Health Organization says yes, with certain restrictions. The organization recommends keeping an eye out for the following at swimming pools, gyms, beaches, spas, saunas and steam bath facilities:
- a maximum number of people allowed to ensure adequate physical distancing
- fabric mask policies required by local or national regulations
- hand washing stations, especially in the toilet and change room areas
- single use towels only
- a bin for guests to place their towel after use for laundering
- individual use drinking water
- tissues and waste containers with lids
- high touch areas such as door handles disinfected regularly throughout the day
Read and Review
That great hotel stay reviewed in October 2016 could be a very different experience in 2020. Always do your research, no matter the accommodation type; even luxury hotels can get a bad rap. Reviewing is also a two-way street: Remember to leave your comments after your stay, so that others can have the chance to experience what you had — or, in some cases, be warned well in advance!