When it comes to holidays, you might have reservations about a lot of things. Street food. Monsoon season. Tuc-tuc drivers. A whole host of tropical creepy-crawlies that you fear might creep and crawl their way into your bed. Not to mention how much the whole thing is going to cost you financially.

Sometimes it’s good to have reservations. They make you careful, and ensure you don’t do something dangerous. Other times, you should throw your reservations and caution to the wind and simply enjoy the adventure! Same goes for another kind of reservations entirely: hotel reservations.

When I travel, I don’t always make reservations. Sometimes it’s because I simply don’t know what town I’ll be the next night and I like the freedom that simply rocking up to a place affords me. Other times, especially in peak season, I don’t want the hassle that having no reservation can bring. I don’t want to spend hours walking around in search of an available, and cheap, room; I’d rather arrive with my place already secured.

When I do make a reservation, I want to make sure that I don’t wind up regretting my decision. So I follow a checklist of important factors before pressing that “Book Now” button. Try it out for yourself, and you too can avoid getting disappointed when it comes to check-in!

1. Location, location, location

I’ve been caught out with this one waaay too many times; that’s why it’s number one on my pre-reservation list now! Because even if the location of your hotel is right beside the bus station, which seems like a good idea at the time, how far is it from the centre of town? There’s no point in saving a taxi fare when you first arrive if you’re 5km from any place to eat. So before you book, check the map. Figure out where you’ll be spending most of your time and book somewhere in that area. Don’t get swayed by a cheaper deal on the outskirts of town; trust me, that’s a false economy!

2. Breakfast in or out?

This can be another false economy. Because most of the time, what you’re paying your extra $5 on (ie the “breakfast included” option) is nothing but a fried egg on a soggy piece of toast. When you can can a delicious bowl of noodles in the local market for around $1. And it’s a far more fun experience than sitting in the gloom of a darkened hotel breakfast area!

In my experience, it’s always better to eat out for breakfast. But of course, there are always exceptions. Sometimes your hotel will offer an incredible breakfast buffet, or a feast of local specialities. In which case the breakfast might be your reason for booking in the first place! Let the reviews be your guide; but more on those later.

3. How many nights? 

If you’re not sure about a hotel, there’s no point in booking into it for a full week. As a rule, I never book a place for more than 2 nights (unless it’s peak season and I feel like I’ll be stuck otherwise). That way, if I like the place, I can simply extend my stay when I arrive. If I get there and it’s a dump… well, it’s only for a couple of nights!

4. Size matters

As quite a tall person, I’ve had many a sleepless night due to small beds in Southeast Asia. Especially those beds with the wooden frames on the end… they can be a killer! I wind up sleeping terribly, which can affect the rest of my attitude towards whatever town I’m in. And since reading up more (on sites like the Sleep Advisor) about the importance of sleep, I always do whatever I can to get enough of it. Starting by looking at photos of the room I’ll be staying in, and checking if the bed is long enough for a decent night’s kip. It might sound picky but I’ve had enough bad sleeps in hotel rooms to put my foot down on this one!

5. Reviews

Alongside the hotel’s location, the reviews it gets is one of the first things I check… and, it seems, I’m not alone in thinking reviews matter!

I filter my results based on review score and location, then sort them with the cheapest ones first. If the price sounds good and the location suits me, I read through a couple of reviews to make sure I’m not in for nasty surprises. I tend to ignore the ones that say the place is ‘a bit grubby’… for me, those people are just being fussy! But if there have been any serious incidents, and if a few reviews seem to be pretty bad, well, I might reconsider before making my reservation.

So there you have it, travel fans – the 5 things I always consider before making a hotel reservation. Hopefully they’ll be of use to you, so you’ll have a better stay in your next trip… wherever and whenever that may be.

Bon voyage!

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