Last Updated on March 7, 2023 by Christine Kaaloa
Sometimes, staying in hotels can give me a little anxiety. While travelers appreciate the pampering and the privacy their own hotel room, some travelers experience stress about where to book their accommodations and hotel etiquette. To take the stress out of the hotel experience, I want to share tips for staying in hotels.
Essential Tips for Staying in Hotels (video)
Here’s important tips for staying in hotels, so you can enjoy your future stay without the stress!
Travel Guide to Staying in Hotels
Ultimate Hotel Guide: Tips for Staying in a Hotel
1. How do you choose your hotel?
• Location, location, location.. stay in the city.
Like many travelers, I like to navigate the city quickly and easily. I don’t want to stay somewhere far outside of the city, where I have to take taxis to get into the city. Aside from convenience, I often stay out late filming and staying away from public transportation means costly dollars spent. Instead, I like to be located in the city. I like to walk out on the street and the town is right there.
• Research hotel reviews.
Always check hotel reviews and the hotel website. Happy or angry customers will certainly have their opinion and this is helpful. Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine as they do not charge a cancellation fee, so you can reserve multiple hotels and then cancel them before your cancellation window expires. They charge a little more for that flexible service but you have the option to use it or not and they make the price comparisons transparent.
Tip: The no cancellation fee aspect is handy when you need to provide proof of a hotel stay when you are still deciding or hoping to make your final decision after you arrive at your destination.
• Convenience to public transportation and sightseeing landmarks.
Having a metro station or bus stop located five minutes away is ideal to me. When I arrive after a long flight or bus ride, I just want to go straight to my hotel. The last thing I want is to be walking around the city for an hour, dragging my luggage around.
2. What is your security tip for staying at a hotel you feel unsafe in?
Obviously, I would not book a hotel I do not feel safe in. But let’s say I book a hotel whose security is questionable. If my room has a chain lock on the door, I’ll use that when I’m hanging out in my room or sleeping.
Definitely check the hotel reviews of the hotel you book to see if anyone has had unsafe experiences and how they handled it.
3. Do you use a doorstop?
I take a doorstop with me for guesthouses. For most of the hotels that I’ve stayed at, I’ve not needed to use a doorstop however.
4. Do you leave your stuff in your room?
Do you unpack your clothes, keep it away or toothbrush or other item so that it wouldn’t get stolen? Once the cleaners get an idea that you’re staying alone will they steal from you? Should I fake that someone else is staying with me by having an extra pair of shoes maybe men’s shoes. What if my suitcase gets stolen with all my clothes, what should I do?
• A thieving maid is more the exception than the rule.
Having worked in the hospitality industry for a brief stint, I know that workers are very dedicated to the work that they do and they try their best to create a good experience for people. Nobody wants to lose their job. Nobody wants to be accused of stealing.
• Do not leave your valuables lying out.
I will not leave any valuables hanging out. Money and valuables like your laptop or YouTube camera equipment are best packed in your bag before you leave your room. If you are staying in a hostel, store them in your locker.
• Take valuables with you.
If I’m staying at guesthouses or hostels, where I feel like the doors feel a little flimsy and easy to open or the hostel locker doesn’t feel stable… I will take all my valuables with me (that includes my laptop!). I will pack it in my daypack and take that around with me sightseeing. Some travelers like to leave their valuables in their hotel vault. I recommend that only if you can remember that you’ve hidden it there.
• DO put your “Do not disturb” sign on your door.
When I used to worked as traveling camera crew, I stayed in hotel rooms from days to a month. As I had a lot of expensive equipment in my room, I didn’t want the maid to tamper, clean or organize. I also I didn’t want to pack everything up my belongings every day, before I left for a shoot. So I put out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.
• Always do a once over of your room before checking out.
I always go through all the closets, drawers and look under and on my bed to make sure I don’t leave any personal items behind.
5. Are hotel room safes safe?
Using the hotel room safe is a matter of personal preference. I personally do not like using hotel safes, so I would not know how safe it is but other travelers swear by them. I like to keep my stuff organized and in very visible sight so they are accounted for. I don’t like to put things in spaces where it can be concealed and I can forget them!
If I’m running late for my plane, but I forget that I’ve left stuff like my passport, in the safe… it means I’m definitely making a trip to go back.
6. What’s a good time to be off the streets?
If you feel like you know the place is sketchy or you don’t feel confident traveling at night, a good time to be off the streets is 7 pm-9 pm. If you’re comfortable then maybe 10 pm. There are other travelers, who will suggest not going out at night. I personally don’t return to my hotel until it’s midnight because filming YouTube travel videos is my job!
As a solo traveler, if you want the freedom to move around as you wish, you need to be proactive and on your toes. Practice travel street smarts often. I dress down, don’t walk in dark alleys and have my guard on high alert. I pay attention to my surroundings, especially if they’re foreign.
There are many things to enjoy at night even if you are a solo traveler. To completely remove evening activities from your itinerary is removing a part of the culture and lifestyle of that city. When I was in India, I was in Darjeeling the streets are lit and people roam the streets as if it were a street festival. Shops are open and tourists are buying souvenirs. Families are going out for dinner. It’s really up to your comfort level.
7. Tipping Etiquette in Hotels
I feel tipping should be a personal preference, based on budget and cultural etiquette. In the U.S., tips are expected. Americans believe in tipping in hotels, cafes, restaurants, deliveries, apartment doormen, a lot of places! It’s a social etiquette and practice that turned grossly into an expectation and horrible societal practice enforced by bad employment practices.
Generally, being American, I tip on a sliding scale depending upon the country’s dollar value. I know that house cleaning work is effort and it’s not fun to clean after piggy travelers. Sometimes, when maids see they’re being appreciated, they give a little extra effort or leave extra toiletries. Some travelers tip daily, whenever they request their room cleaned, while others tip a lump sum at the end of their stay.
If I’m going to Las Vegas, I tip about a dollar a day to the hotel maid; if it’s a nice hotel and there’s a lot of pampering or extras they bring, I might tip a little more. But a hotel in Cambodia, I might tip what’s considered a dollar in their currency.
There are no tipping countries, like Japan where tipping is considered offensive or is already included in the final bill and is not expected. Asians coming from Asia, will stay at American hotels and don’t tip. Australians might be taken aback by the idea, as companies pay a high minimum wage. In the end, it’s up to you as to how you enjoy the hospitality staff and how generous you feel.
8. What if you don’t have the budget to tip every single day, but you feel pressured.
I put out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on my door and I don’t let the cleaner clean my room. I also believe in being an eco-friendly traveler and avoiding waste. I don’t need fresh towels, my bed to be fluffed or new toiletries and soap every day. That Do not disturb sign is the one fix for everything. A safe room, no excessive waste and I don’t have to tip every day.
Read my ecofriendly tips for travelers
Watch my Hotel Routine
This is the standard hotel routine I go through when encountering a new hotel room. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a budget guesthouse or a luxury hotel.
If you were writing a travel guide to staying at hotels, what would some of your tips be?
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