How to get the best hotel room

The last thing you want after a long flight is to open the door to a horrible hotel room, or to wake during the night to the sound of sirens and screaming reprobates. Our tips will, with very little effort, help to ensure that you get the best room available.

The first and most valuable advice I can give you is to book your room directly with the hotel. And, although it’s convenient to do things online, in this instance, picking up the phone and talking to a real person will serve you better – literally.

Quite often, you’ll get a better deal if you book direct with a hotel, especially the larger chains. But even if you ask for the best rate at a smaller, boutique hotel, you may get a nice  surprise.

Anyway, we’re not here to discuss rates, you want to know which are the best rooms. That’s why you need to speak to the front desk. They know the best rooms. Just ask them for the best room and if it’s free you’ll get it.

Otherwise, specify the following:

  • away from elevators and ice or vending machines
  • away from custodian rooms or equipment cupboards
  • on the middle floors (they usually start early morning cleaning of empty rooms on either the top or bottom floors)
  • away from stairs
  • away from gyms, pools, spas and other potentially noisy areas
  • away from mechanical rooms (servers, air con units, water tanks)
  • ask for a room at the rear of the hotel if you want it quiet or, if you like a street or city view, the front.

Also, third-party sites will buy up crappy rooms in bulk. The cheaper the room, the more likely it’s not so swanky. But even if you do book through a third-party website, make sure you call the hotel directly and ask them to swing you a better room.

Speaking to an actual person is the best way to ingratiate yourself with the hotel, and you’ll feel a bit more ‘at home’ once you arrive if you’re familiar with the front desk staff.

And remember, hotels want you to be happy so they’ll do whatever they can to satisfy your requests.

It’s also worthwhile joining the hotel’s loyalty program, if it has one. They’ll often offer an array of perks, such as free wifi, late checkout, early check in, lower rates, free bottle of wine and the opportunity to earn extra points for discounts of future stays.

Hotels will also give preference to loyalty members, no matter how long you’ve been with them. So, when a loyalty member gets a good room, it’s a good room, and not just lip service.

Also, call the morning of check-in to remind them of your preferences.

Once you’re happy you’ve got the room you want, ask them to put a ‘do not move’ notice on your booking.

It also pays to time your check-in right. The sweet spot is between 4.30pm and 6pm. If you arrive early but didn’t request the best room when you made your reservation, you’ll get the first available room, limiting the chance of an upgrade. If you get there too late, you could miss out on your room altogether and be moved to another hotel – even if you’ve booked.

If you’re unhappy with your room, take a deep breath, and speak to the front desk. Be nice to them and they’ll be more likely to treat you nicely. Avoid rush hours at the desk, which are  usually between 8am and 10am, and 6pm and 8pm.

Also, if staff say they can’t move you, be patient and ask them if there’s a chance you can be moved the next day instead. If you’re only staying for one night and they simply can’t get you a better room, they’ll usually throw in some free drinks at the bar or a free breakfast, or some other perk.

It also pays to ask for upgrades. When staff ask you if everything is okay with your room, tell them it’s fine, but it’d be nicer to have the honeymoon suite. Even though they’ll know you’re joking, sometimes this line works and you’ll be offered plusher digs.

Do you have any tips for getting the best hotel room? Why not share them with our members?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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