Tip # 5 – Choosing Hotels

When choosing lodging for my trips, I consider the kind of trip I am taking. Will I be in the United States or another country? Will I be in a big city or a small town or rural area? How long will I be staying in this particular facility?

When traveling in the United States, my trips usually amount to either going to one city to stay for an extended time or making a circle trip where I stay a different place every night or two.

Sofitel, Chicago, IL

If I am staying in a big city like Chicago, New York, or Seattle, it will probably be for several days. In this case, I choose a “big city” hotel. For a trip like this, I splurge for really nice hotels that have all the possible amenities. I often consult my travel agent , Robert Merlin (314-922-6058)(rmerlin@smartflyer.com)

so he can get me the most luxurious, yet economical, trip possible. He has always come through with wonderful ideas.


If I am staying for an extended period in a more rural area, like in the Smoky Mountains or other small town places, I look for Bed and Breakfast Inns and Country Inns. I have stayed in many wonderful inns for one night or extended stays.

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Hemlock Inn, Bryson City, NC
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White Gull Inn, Fish Creek, WI






Some of my favorites are The Hemlock Inn in Bryson City, NC; The White Gull Inn in Door County, WI; The Beaumont Inn in Herodsville, KY; The Barrows House in Dorset, VT; and Hickory Bridge Farm in Orrtanna, PA (next to Gettysburg).

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Barrows House, Dorset, VT
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Hickory Bridge Farm, Orrtanna, PA

When staying in a bed and breakfast or country inn, guests always receive personal attention and great food. Guests usually get a chance to visit with each other and share reports on the day’s activities and new places each has discovered that day. I always check out reviews and recommendations on Trip Advisor or various travel books before choosing a new inn. There are many books out there that offer advice on Bed and Breakfast and Country Inn facilities.

When I plan a “circle trip,” I try to split my time, depending on location, between Bed and Breakfast places and “chain” hotels.

If I am only going to be spending one night at the place (getting in late and leaving the next morning), the importance rests solely in the price, the cleanliness, and the location of the hotel. If I am not going to have extra time to sit and visit or enjoy amazing meals, I figure why waste the money and I go for something fairly inexpensive. For these kinds of hotels, I usually stick with the Hampton Inn or another one of the Hilton or Marriott facilities.

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Hotel Londres Eiffel, Paris

When traveling to another country, I do a lot of research with travel books and Trip Advisor to look for reviews and recommendations. If traveling where there is a language barrier, I make sure I am staying in a hotel that has English speaking staff at the front desk.

Experimenting with the language and trying to speak as much as I can is fun and polite. However, if you are sick or you want to make reservations somewhere, you need to make sure you can communicate accurately with the desk staff.

Hotel Beaugency, Paris

When traveling in Europe, I have chosen to stay in small boutique hotels rather that the “big city” style. This gives me a more personal experience similar to a bed and breakfast in the states. I have spent a lot of time in these hotels visiting with other guests and with the staff. To me, this makes for a deeper, more enjoyable visit.

One note on the hotels where I have stayed in Paris is that, although they provided breakfast, the price was often more that what you would pay at a café down the street with a larger menu selection. However, when I stayed at the Hotel de Londres Eiffel, as my bill was totaled, I was told that I was not being charged for the breakfasts I ate there. I don’t know if it was because of the length of my stay or the fact that I only ate there a few times, but I appreciated the gesture.

Regardless of the place I decide to stay, there are a few details that I am sure to check before reserving. I always view their individual website online. Depending on my specific needs for that night or trip, my decisions may change, but these are the things I need to know before I make a reservation.

  1. Free WiFi
  2. Breakfast included/available
  3. Size of room/suite
  4. Cost
  5. Parking (if needed)
  6. Elevator (Remember – in Europe the first floor is the one above the ground level floor.)

Most hotel “chains” have call centers to use to place your reservations. However, if I know for sure where I want to stay, I try to always use the local hotel phone number. I get much more personal service and have a better chance of getting the kind of room I want. I can also often find out about special deals.

Regardless of the place I choose to stay when I travel, I always ask for an email confirmation. I print this to take with me and make sure the email is in my phone in case I need it. Not only does this provide proof of the expected room and charge, but also gives me the phone number in case I need to contact them to cancel or change my plans. If you arrive and the room and charge you are presented with are not what your reservation says, do not hesitate to bring that to the attention of the desk clerk.

Lodging is a very personal choice. Some people like to always stay in the exact same kind of hotel so they know what to expect each time. Even the rooms look the same. I like a little variety in my experiences. Whatever you enjoy the most is what you should choose. However, if you have never tried a Bed and Breakfast or Country Inn, I urge you to do so just once. There are also some quaint little places where your favorite motel chain might not be available.

Wherever you stay, planning ahead is of the upmost importance. Know where you are going and what it will cost and you will have a much less stressful trip.














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