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11 Factors To Consider When Choosing a Hotel or Airbnb

01 Dec, 2023

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Eva Mitchell

Selecting the perfect accommodation can be difficult no matter your budget. There are many factors to consider when choosing a hotel or Airbnb that will best suit your needs and you don't want to end up booking a dud!

Most often, you will find there are lots of accommodation options to choose from, a million reviews to evaluate and your own personal expectations must be met to ensure you have a comfortable stay. Tim & I are travelling for an entire year, which means we have a lot of experience booking accommodation all over the world (although I'm the chief accommodation booker on our trip!).

We aim to book accommodation anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months in advance, depending on the location and time of year. Since starting our travels, we have managed to simplify the process of booking accommodation by identifying the key factors to consider when choosing a hotel or Airbnb. This has allowed us to minimise wasted time searching for upcoming accommodation and means we can enjoy our current location to the fullest. In this article I have outlined the key factors to consider when choosing a hotel or Airbnb anywhere in the world and the RED FLAGS to beware of, so you don’t accidently book a lemon!  

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Budget: Accommodation Factor To Consider One 

Your budget is going to be one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a hotel or Airbnb. Start by identifying how much you are willing to pay for accommodation in your chosen city or town. Make sure you are reasonable with your pricing expectations. What you get for your budget will change depending on the country, city or town you are staying in, the time of year, and even day of the week.

For example, accommodation in Switzerland during peak season is obviously going to cost significantly more than accommodation in Turkey during off-peak season.  

Read:

Our 3 month Europe trip budget breakdown


Purpose: Accommodation Factor To Consider Two

Ask yourself the purpose of your accommodation. Is it going to be somewhere you spend a lot of time? Or is it merely somewhere to rest your head while you are out exploring the local area?

Your purpose is going to help you decide the type of accommodation that will best suit your needs. If you are planning on staying longer than a few days, you may want to consider an apartment or studio style accommodation with helpful additional facilities that can help you save on food and laundry costs. If you are just resting for the night, then maybe a simple hotel room, backpackers, or pod accommodation may be perfect for you.  


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Location: Accommodation Factor To Consider Three

Booking the perfect accommodation requires a hotel or Airbnb to be in the location that suits your holiday needs the best. Here are my top three location factors to consider when choosing a hotel or Airbnb. 

  1. Is it close to the area you want to explore? Often in cities this will be the old town area or city centre that is home to the touristic attractions. If the accommodation is not close to the places you want to explore, is it at least easy to get to via public transport or car.  

  2. Will the accommodation be a close to the airport, bus or train terminal? Ideally, you will want to minimise the time you have to lug your bag to and from the accommodation, and avoid paying for an expensive taxi.  

  3. Is the suburb considered safe? Often in big cities there will be areas to avoid. Make sure you do your research and figure out the safest areas to stay in.    

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Check-in and Check-out Times & Bag Hold Facility: Accommodation Factor To Consider Four

It is always a good idea to confirm the check-in and check-out times of an accommodation before you book it in. You should keep in mind the time you are arriving or leaving the destination. If you are arriving on a late-night flight, does the accommodation offer 24/7 check in or self-service check in after hours. If you will be arriving slightly after the check-in time listed on the booking, you can always contact the host to see if they can accommodate a later check-in. We have found that most hosts are reasonably flexible.

You should also investigate whether or not the accommodation offers a complimentary baggage hold service especially if you are expecting to arrive early morning or leave late afternoon. The last thing you want to do is have to lug your heavy suitcase around with you for the whole day.  

Here's a tip:

There are baggage storage options in most cities that you can utilise if your accommodation doesn’t have bag hold capabilities. Radical storage is our favourite luggage storage app where you can store your bag for the day at one of their many central locations for a small fee.

Food Facilities: Accommodation Factor To Consider Five

Cooking Facilities 

Whether you are dying for the comfort of a home cooked meal or are visiting a country where food tends to be expensive when you eat out, you might want to consider an accommodation with cooking facilities. During our year of travel, we have booked accommodation with a kitchen every few weeks so we can experiment with the local produce while keeping our food budget under control. 


Breakfast 

Check if the total accommodation price includes breakfast. A free breakfast is a great way to reduce your costs while travelling and makes it easy to get up and start your day straight away.  


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Laundry Facilities: Accommodation Factor To Consider Six

When travelling long-term, knowing if an accommodation has laundry facilities available becomes an important factor to consider when choosing a hotel or Airbnb.

The laundry facilities could be within the room itself or available as a communal facility, which is common at backpacker hostels. Since living out of a suitcase, we have found the ideal frequency to wash our clothes is roughly once weekly and we try to book accommodation with laundry facilities accordingly. If you can’t find any accommodation that has a laundry facilities available, it may be useful to search for accommodation options near a laundromat.  

Here's a tip:

Avoid getting your laundry washed via your hotel as they charge significantly more than the local laundromat. Most hotels charge per item washed which can add up very quickly. 

couple running in Sahara Desert


Room Facilities: Accommodation Factor To Consider Seven

Room facilities are important factors to consider when choosing a hotel or Airbnb to ensure your stay is as stress-free as possible. When you understand the room facilities available you will be able to plan accordingly. Here are the key room facilities that I usually check for before booking accommodation. 


Hairdryer  

Hairdryers can take up unnecessary space in your bag and add to the weight you have to carry around while travelling which isn’t ideal! I opted to leave my hairdryer at home during our year of travel and so far I have found that most hotels have a hairdryer available. 

If you aren’t taking a hair dryer with you, it is always good to check if the accommodation has one especially in destinations where you may be washing your hair often (like beachside towns.) I have only run into issues a few times over the past six months of travel, and if there was no hairdryer available in the room, I normally find that the accommodation is able to provide a hair dryer to use that they keep in the office. 


WI-FI 

When you have a working holiday in mind, the ability to obtain a strong Wi-Fi signal will likely be one of the most important factors to consider when booking a hotel or Airbnb for your holiday.

Please don’t assume that every hotel and Airbnb has Wi-Fi. There are accommodation options out there that do not have Wi-Fi or whose Wi-Fi is super slow. If your perfect accommodation requires a fast wi-fi connection, ensure you check the advertisement and reviews to get an idea of the Wi-Fi available, and if it is actually any good. You can always reach out to the host before booking to confirm Wi-Fi speeds.

We have personally booked accommodation in rural areas knowing that Wi-Fi is not available and were happy to spend a few days having a technology detox. Other times we have needed wi-fi for video calls to set up house sits and have ensured our accommodation has wi-fi available to meet our needs.  

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Iron & Ironing board 

I didn’t realise that having an iron and ironing board in hotel rooms wasn’t standard practice until we started travelling Europe in mainly low to mid cost accommodation. Luckily most of our clothes don’t require ironing, however there are times when it is useful to have access to an iron such as when you are planning on going to a formal event or a cute date night that requires a crisp shirt! Just something to keep in mind.  

Here's a tip:

If you do happen to need to iron a dress or shirt but don’t have access to an iron. Grab a clothes hanger and hang your item of clothing up in the bathroom while you shower. The steam should help to significantly reduce the wrinkles.

Heating and Cooling 

Is it going to be freezing outside? Or are you going to be staying in the middle of summer? It is important to consider whether the accommodation has appropriate cooling or heating depending on the season and location. There is nothing worse than not being able to sleep because the room is too hot or cold! We have found in some lower cost accommodation the aircon remote is removed from the room to save the owner costs, if it's too hot we'd ask to have the remote.


Housekeeping 

It is becoming increasingly common these days for accommodation to skip daily house cleaning. If this is important to you or if you are staying longer than a few days, it is worth checking how frequently you can expect housekeeping. 


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Amenities: Accommodation Factor To Consider Eight

When you are booking accommodation in the low to mid budget range, you will find that amenities are usually limited. During our travels, we have managed to score the odd low-cost accommodation with additional amenities, like the time we stayed in Pammukale and there was an outdoor pool included. Taking a dip in the pool was the perfect way to cool down after a long travel day on a hot, crowded bus in the middle of summer.  

Additional facilities that hotels may offer include a sauna, spa facilities, onsite restaurant and bar, room service, a hotel gym, and communal socialising areas.  

If having specific amenities is a priority for you, make sure you add that to the list of things you check for when booking the perfect accommodation.


  

Transport: Accommodation Factor To Consider Nine

Public Transport Links 

When planning a trip, one of the essential factors to consider when choosing a hotel or Airbnb is the accessibility via public transport (especially if you are traveling on a low budget). If you are travelling by public transport, you will likely want to check if there is a public transport link nearby the property that is easily accessible for when you are arriving and leaving the town or city and also for getting around locally. We normally just use google maps but keep in mind that often the local transport links are not shown and you'll need to dig deeper to find the routes or schedule.

Here's a tip:

If you have a VPN (like Surfshark) it's easier to search for local transport by changing your VPN location to the country you are trying to search for. This will ensure local content is more likely to feature in the search results. You may need to use a bit of google translate though!

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Car parking  

If you are driving a car to your accommodation, you should consider whether the accommodation will have an allocated car park for you or if there is reasonably priced parking nearby. Is the parking free or paid? Is the car park nearby or quite far away? These are all things you should consider when booking the perfect accommodation. In popular locations it can be better to use public transport, or taxis than hiring a car as car parking can cost a fortune!


Your Non-Negotiables: Accommodation Factor Ten

You are absolutely allowed to have non-negotiables when it comes to accommodation! And these can be fluid depending on the location, season or your current circumstance. It could be that the room must have air-conditioning if you are going to a hot location, or your room must have a jug so you can make a cuppa tea in the morning.

One of our non-negotiables is that we will always book a room with a double bed, it may seem trivial and I know there are couples who are happy to save a few dollars by booking twin bed rooms, just not us!  


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Navigating the Reviews: Accommodation Factor To Consider Eleven

Reviews are one of the major factors to consider when choosing a hotel or Airbnb as you are trusting the owner to be honest.

Navigating the reviews on any accommodation can be tough. When booking the perfect accommodation, you need to keep in mind that very rarely will an accommodation have a 10/10 rating. There will always be a handful of people who have higher expectations than what they experienced but don’t let these opinions immediately stop you from booking the accommodation.

It’s human nature to be put off by a handful of bad reviews amongst hundreds of good ones, however I would recommend that you consider these bad reviews carefully. I have seen bad reviews for poor internet connection when it is a rural retreat style accommodation or complaints that the room was noisy when they have booked accommodation in the heart of the CBD on a Saturday night!

I like to take these reviews with a grain of salt as certain circumstances are unavoidable due to the nature or location of the accommodation.  



My Accommodation Booking Process

Over the last year since leaving our Melbourne apartment we have stayed at 78 different accommodations! Tim will vouch that there has only been two disappointing ones booked so far (both in Morocco for uber cheap).

My favourite platform to book accommodation is Booking.com.

Here's my process:

  • I usually narrow down my accommodation options to a handful that fit the first ten accommodation factors above, then I will assess the reviews of each accommodation.
  • On Booking.com, I would never consider an accommodation option with a rating below 6, and ideally I look for ratings of 8+ with at least 50 reviews.
  • Next, I check out the review section and order it from the most recent. This gives me the most up-to-date information of the current state of the property and management. If I don’t see any alarming comments in the first 10 or so reviews, I will then search specific concerns in the review section, for example; ‘bed bugs’ or ‘location’.
  • Before I lock in the accommodation I always do my Red Flag Test. 

I do occasionally use other accommodation booking platforms when I can’t find what I am looking for on booking.com. If you are interested in other accommodation booking platforms I use, take a read of this blog on the best travel planning apps to use in Europe.


Now obviously there can be some incredibly bad reviews that are published that cause alarm bells as soon as you read them. Your gut-instinct will tell you not to book this accommodation no matter how perfect it may seem. It’s a straight up NO from us if there are any of the following 🚩RED FLAGS🚩 in the property listing.   


Red Flags When Choosing a Hotel or Airbnb 

RED FLAGS are one of the most important factors to consider when booking a hotel or Airbnb as they have the potential to ruin your stay. Make sure to check for these ‘RED FLAGS’ when you are searching for the perfect accommodation. 

  1. Missing photos: Check the photos to see if the host has omitted photos of certain areas of the accommodation. For example, they may have taken a photo of the bedroom and a separate photo of the bathroom but it doesn’t make sense where they connect. 

  2. Low feedback scores: If a property has a significant number of bad reviews bringing their total feedback score down to below a 7 on booking.com or below 4 stars on Airbnb, I would seriously consider not booking that accommodation. These properties are potentially going to be more hassle than they are worth. Most of the time you can get accommodation for all budgets with a decent feedback score. 

  3. Unusual features: There can be a number of unusual features that are easy to miss when you aren’t looking for them. We got caught out on an AirBNB in Melbourne where we didn’t look at the photos closely enough. The place we booked had a bathroom with external plumping that was obviously a home job, and the bathroom had no door into the bedroom. Luckily, we were only there for one night, however it sure was a lesson learned!  

  4. Aggressive or overly defensive responses to reviews: I have seen some extremely aggressive responses to bad reviews from hosts or owners. I would avoid these accommodation options as it’s likely there is a bigger issue going on. At the end of the day, if you run into problems while staying there, you don’t want to have to deal with an aggressive person.  

  5. Very Bad Reviews: It’s a straight up NO from us if the reviews mention bed bugs or repetitively state that the property was unclean. These accommodation options are likely to risk your health and comfort while travelling and should be avoided at all costs!

When I am confident that the reviews are giving me positive vibes and show no RED FLAGS, then I will go ahead and book the accommodation.  


Examples of What The Perfect Accommodation Looks Like for Us 

There is nothing better than hitting the jackpot and picking up a room at a great price, then arriving to find it even exceeds your expectations! For us, we hit the jackpot booking these hotels and Airbnbs. 

Each one of them perfectly fit our needs at the time and made our holiday that little bit more memorable. 


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Adora Cave Suites in Goreme (Cappadocia) 

We loved our Deluxe Double Room at Adora Cave Suites! This was not your average hotel room, it was a cave room carved out of sandstone. The price per night provided ridiculously good value and the experience of staying in a cave with all the usual comforts of a hotel room was mind-blowing. I would highly recommend staying in a cave room if the opportunity ever arises!

To top things off, there were multiple outdoor areas for us to relax at throughout the day and a balcony to view the hot air balloons floating over Goreme. Adora Cave Suites includes a complementary buffet Turkish breakfast for every guest that is abundant, fresh and delicious. The best part is that you are invited to enjoy breakfast with a view over Goreme town.  

Book a stay at Adora Cave Suites in Goreme



A Due Passi dal Centro – Trullo in Alberobello 

A Due Passi dal Centro offered a unique stay in a traditional trulli. This was one of our favourite stays in Italy in the fairytale-like town of Alberobello. This particular trulli was one of the most affordable trulli stays in Alberobello when I was searching. It is located in a peaceful area, only a five-minute walk to the middle of town. This trulli had everything we needed from a generous living room area to relax in, to a small kitchen to prepare our own food and a modest breakfast provided for the morning. We would highly recommend this stay! 

Book a stay at A Due Passi dal Centro in Alberobello


Barbi House Airbnb in Florence 

Barbi House was a quirky studio style apartment we booked via Airbnb that turned out to be the perfect accommodation for us in Florence. We arrived at Barbi house after a five day cycling tour around Tuscany, as you could imagine we had a lot of washing to catch up on. The studio had a washing machine so we could get back on top of our washing with a small drying rack and plenty of clothes hangers for drying our clothes. There were cooking facilities available, so we made ourselves a delicious risotto for dinner one night which in turn saved us money on eating out.

The studio was equipped with a lounge area where we could spread out a bit for a few days, more so than the standard hotel rooms we had been staying in the week prior. Barbi House was a mere 20 minute walk to the main attractions of Florence but far enough out of the CBD that we felt we were able to experience a more local way of life in Florence, even if it was just for a few days! 

The Airbnb host was incredibly friendly, easy to communicate with and provided us with some great local suggestions that we tried out. So, despite Airbnb having it’s challenges at times, we didn’t regret for one moment booking Barbi House in Florence. 

Book a stay at the Barbi House Airbnb in Florence


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Thee Vijit Lanna Hotel in Chiang Mai  

After attending a wedding in the Philippines, we decided to make the most of being in South East Asia, spending Christmas 2022 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Thee Vijit Lanna was the perfect accommodation to spend our first Christmas together as a married couple.

The stunning Lanna inspired aesthetics of the room created a calming environment, we loved the touches of luxury the property offered with a private bathtub on the balcony, daily bottled water, cute complementary Christmas themed macaroons, and a stunning swimming pool with mist floating over the surface creating this enchanting fairytale feeling. 

Book your stay at Thee Vijit Lanna in Chiang Mai


Summary

Searching for the perfect accommodation doesn’t have to be a taxing experience. It can be fun when you know what you are looking for. Identifying the most important factors to consider when choosing a hotel or Airbnb will make it easy for you to select the best accommodation for your holiday. The more time you spend in different accommodation, the quicker you will get at being able to identify the perfect accommodation to fit your needs.

When you do find a little gem, it feels so good to just sit back and relax knowing you have booked the perfect accommodation.  

If you have any questions about how to book the perfect accommodation for you or any of the accommodation mentioned in this post, don’t hesitate to drop me a comment below or reach out through our socials. I am always happy to help out fellow travellers! 

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A word from the authors

Eva and Tim are the creators behind this world-class travel finance blog.

In 2021 they decided to travel the world for an entire year and begun implementing savings strategies to achieve their goal of long-term travel. By May 2023, they quit their jobs to embark on their year-long adventure, sharing their invaluable practical and achievable savings, planning and travel tips they learnt along the way/with the aim to help others Make Cents of Travel.

You can find Eva & Tim on Tiktok, Facebook and Instagram as Make Cents of Travel.

About Us

Hello, Hola, Ciao! We are Tim & Eva, a couple of kiwis who have spent the last few years saving for and planning our epic year-long adventure around the world. Our goal is to inspire fellow wanderlust souls (just like you!) to Make Cents Of Travel by sharing our experiences and strategies we used to turn our dream of long-term travel into a reality.

2 comments

Clare Martin

I've decided to make a short weekend trip to Napa this March as a reward for myself, so I need to find a hotel to call for a room reservation during my stay there. It's good that you advised us to consider accommodations that are close to the area we want to explore or public transportation systems to make things more convenient for us. I'll be sure to keep this in mind while I look for a hotel in Napa to call for a room reservation soon.

4mo

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Eva

I'm glad you found this article useful for planning your upcoming Napa trip. I hope you have an amazing weekend away!

3mo

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