Hotels can also be one of the major let downs of a trip for whatever reason. If you are going to use a travel agent to pick a hotel for you, make sure you check as much as you can because no matter how it is described, seeing it, in reality, is always completely different than the pictures in a brochure and sometimes on the Internet.
It requires research and a good look at TripAdvisor. Or word of mouth by someone you know and trust who has stayed there.
Take, for instance, staying in a five-star hotel, the usual stomping ground of the rich and famous. It is always interesting to see how the less privileged fare. Where hotel staff are supposed to treat each guess equally it is not always the case. Certainly, if you’re flashing money around, the staff will be happy to take it though you may not necessarily get what you’re expecting.
Currently, we are lucky to be in the highest loyalty level and this affords us a number of privileges; this time working in our favour. But it’s not always the case. Privilege can sometimes count for nothing. It often depends on the humour of the front desk clerk and woe betide you if you get the receptionist from hell.
Been there, done that, more than once.
Then there is the room. There is such a wide variety of rooms available even if the hotel site or brochure had representative pictures the odds are you can still get a room that is nothing like you’re expecting or was promised. Believe me, there are rooms with a view, overlooking pigeon coops or air-conditioning vents. And if you’re lucky, at Niagara Falls, it might be that six inches of window space that allows a very limited view of the falls. Still, why should I complain, you can see the Falls can you not?
Then, if there is one, there is access to the lounge, usually bestowed upon high-level loyalty members, and those who win the check-in lottery. Yes, guests can be ‘selected’ to be given lounge privileges. I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes having a high level in loyalty does not necessarily get you lounge access.
Kind of beats the purpose of being loyal does it not?
A bone of contention often can be the location of the hotel and sometimes parking facilities, not the least of which is the cost of Valet parking. In some cities, it is astronomical, which, on top of the cost of the hire car, can be a reason to select a more convenient hotel in the inner city area.
This time we are reasonably near transport, yes, if we could walk the distance (which feels like the length of a marathon) to the nearest bus or tram stop. The problem is we both have trouble with knees and ankles and walking distances are difficult at the best of times, and for us, it is a long, long way when you can’t walk and that’s when the hotel starts to feel like a prison. Taxis may be cheap but when you have to use them three or four times a day it all adds up.
Also, be wary when a hotel says it is close to public transport. While that may be true in London, anywhere else and especially in Europe, you could find yourself in the middle of nowhere. It’s when you discover your travel agent didn’t exactly lie but it is why that weekly rate was so cheap. In the end, the sum of the taxi fares and the accommodation turns out to be dearer that if you stayed at the Savoy or the Ritz, or the Waldorf Astoria.
Unfortunately, I still can’t afford to stay at the latter hotel.
So airline, hire car and hotel aside those front line experiences are fodder for the travel blogger, these people who are also known as road warriors.
I wondered why until we started travelling and discovered the incredible highs and lows, of flying, yes there are good and bad airlines and the bad are not confined to the low cost, of rental cars and of hotels. There is a very large gulf between five stars and three and sometimes three can be very generous. And of course, l now have a list of hotels l would never stay in again, the names of which might surprise you. That said, five stars sometimes can be two too many.
And those hotels who have self-rated themselves, well, that’s another story altogether.