How to Pick a Hotel

Sep 02, 2013 View Comments by

How to Pick a HotelI’ve never done a how-to before, and maybe I’m not the guy for the job, but I do know that I am happy with pretty much every hotel that I pick so I’m going to go ahead and give it a go anyway. As a warning though, I have picked hotels many times that the people with me have not liked, so take all of this with a grain of salt. It basically comes down to your attitude, and if you want to enjoy something you will. If you want things to bother you then that will happen as well.

Let’s take the hotel that I found back in Salina, UT as a case study. I was traveling with fellow blogger and friend the Adventure Hermit. We were riding the Trans America Trail and were not going to make it to our planned destination due to having too much fun during a photo shoot in Moab. (You can’t take a bad photo in Moab.) Anyway, we hopped on the highway to try to make up some ground. At a gas station we refueled the bikes with gas and our bodies with garbage snack food. Think fried chocolate pie with a chocolate milk to help wash it down. Sitting on the sidewalk trying to get out of the sun for a few minutes, we discussed where we could make it for the night. Salina was about 100 miles away and we could get there with a few hours left in the day to enjoy ourselves. This was step one. Picking the town.

Once it’s narrowed down to the town you want, my little trick is to pull up that town on my iPhone in the Google Maps App and then search “lodging.” Most of the time all the hotels, motels, and B&Bs will show up. Now since we are in the Maps App you can see already where the hotel is located. My personal preference is to be as close to the town center as possible. I want to be able to park the bike once we get there and not ride it for the rest of the night. The closer you are to the center of town the easier it is to walk to a restaurant, bar, or pharmacy. Whatever you may need to do or work on for the night will be that much easier when you are in the center of everything.

Next, I call the few places that are in my target area and see who has the cheapest rates and what amenities they offer. Sometimes I’ll splurge if they have something cool like a natural hot spring fed pool like they did in White Sulfur Spring, MT. To me, most of the time I am just paying for a place to lay my head, so I have no problem going for a cheaper place and spending my money on other areas of the trip. I notice that most of the cheaper places happen to be family run and non-chain hotels. These are hit or miss. Most of the time you can filter through the dumps and find a place where the owners are working the front counter and really care about your stay. It’s more personal and not just a business transaction.

The last step for me is cross-referencing the hotel with TripAdvisor. If after the previous steps I still have more than one option, I like to humor myself with the reviews from that site, but be careful because sometimes the people reviewing these hotels are wanting to let little things bother them and expect every place have five star quality at a three star price. That simply doesn’t exist. Learn to embrace what the hotel has to offer and shrug off the little things, like a broken ice machine or the 80s décor. If you start with a smile and an open mind, good things will come to you, like the having the owner give us her wonderful left over chicken dumpling soup for dinner at the Ranch Motel in Salina, UT.


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About the author

Commercial fisherman to pay the bills. Adventure Rider for the smile on my face. Documenting it all as proof that anyone can live this dream.