The Hunt for the Right Hotel

Tuesday, 1 April 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

When I’m booking a trip, choosing the hotel becomes a Sherlockian task. I’ll spend hours, nay days, researching where to stay. Finding the right accommodations is part of my fun.

While price is a factor, there is an abundance of sites that offer price comparisons with what they claim is the best deal.  But I’m looking for the inside scoop, a curated listings of what’s best.

Trying to narrow down where to stay in big cities like Toronto, LA and especially New York, or choosing one in a total foreign locale, can be overwhelming.  That’s why Tablet hotels is always my first stop.  Tablet whittles down the list to something more manageable.

It provides a selection of hotels at various price points and rates them out of 20.  They state that only real Tablet guests can submit reviews.  And if the ratings fall too low (under 17) the hotel gets bumped off the site.  While some chains are included (the Hyatt’s Andaz chain for example), chic boutique hotels with character are Tablet’s stock in trade. 

I used Tablet to book my hotels in Amsterdam, New York and Scottsdale and most recently, it led to the Sunset Marquis, for an upcoming trip to LA.


Photo: Sunset Marquis

While I love Tablet, I don’t stop there. For a second opinion, I cross reference with Oyster.  It calls itself the hotel tell-all site and they claim to send investigators to stay at and photograph the hotels they list to give you the real inside scoop, providing pictures and a list of pros and cons. (Check their photo fakeouts, quite interesting.) 

According to Oyster, Sunset Marquis has slow, dirty elevators and you have to pay for wifi (one of my travel pet peeves!!) But considering the pluses – nice pools and spacious rooms – I can live with the minuses. Oyster does a good job of cutting to the chase.

Next, I check Tripadvisor, taking information here with a grain of salt.  (Well, I take all online information for a grain of salt.)  Case in point, it lists the Magic Castle in Los Angeles as the top hotel in the city.  Really? Perhaps for a certain clientele, like those with kids.

Still, Tripadvisor and Yelp are useful in rounding out the picture.  I recommend reading a selection of reviews, including a few bad ones.  (Tripadvisor has been accused of including fake reviews.) Even the negative ones be misleading, but its often easy to weed through legitimate complaints and those guests who are simply whiners. 

(One good test of these two sites is to do a search of your own city and see if you agree with the rankings and recommendations.)

Then I hit Fodor’s and Frommer’s, companies that have been in the travel business since the word “web” still had us thinking of spiders. Their recommendations include star ratings, price guides and useful descriptions.

Both of these sites have included the Sunset Marquis, a good sign.  But Fodors says standard suites at Sunset Marquis are small, the opposite of Oyster’s info.  You can appreciate the need for cross-referencing. I guess I’ll be the judge.   

I do question how often these sites update their vast databases. (They cover so much more than just hotels, the world over.)  Frommers lists the “Thompson Beverly Hills”, but the hotel’s name has been changed to Sixty Beverly Hills.

You can book rooms via most of the above-mentioned sites, but I still like to visit the hotel’s pages to view additional photos and scout deals. 

After all that research, I’m ready for a vacation!


Photo: Kicking back at Colony Palms, Palm Springs – Tablet recommended 

Top Photo: Villa D’Este, Lake Como

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  • Donna

    OMG, I totally loved this article! I am a research freak and lately travel has been on my radar so it’s very timely for me. Would love to see an article on how you research flights. If you already have an article on flights if you could just point me in the right direction to read it…thanks!

    • http://www.annaandkristina.com/ Kristina

      Glad I’m not the only one! Re flights, I find I do less humming and hawing, but it is a balancing act between best times, shortest journey and best price. But my first stop is always kayak.com. Then I often go to the airline directly.