Helpful Tips for Hotel Stays

Staying in a hotel, motel, hostel or B&B on your next vacation? Here are a few handy tips…

Making Reservations

  1. Make your preferences clear over the phone when booking your room:
    • Number and size of beds
    • High floor or low floor
    • Smoking/nonsmoking
    • View options – city view, ocean view, beachfront, riverfront, etc.
  2. Are front doors outside or inside the hotel? (Think of a typical highway motel with the doors on the outside. For safety reasons, you might want to choose a hotel that only allows access to rooms inside the building.)
  3. Mention any membership discounts you have when booking the room. Ask if there any specials available (i.e. stay five nights - get the sixth free, kids stay free, etc.)
  4. Ask about amenities and services such as:
    • Airport shuttles – how often do they depart and where to meet them. You may need to reserve a specific time, depending on when you arrive or leave - middle of the night, etc.
    • Parking – is it free or do you have to pay?
    • Are pets allowed?
    • Is there wireless internet access or a business center in the hotel or or nearby (faxes, photocopier, etc.).
    • Ask about any additional services you may want or need: dry cleaning, room service, continental breakfast, pool, cable, etc.
  5. Ask the person to repeat the booking when you have finished making arrangements.
  6. Be sure to call and confirm your reservations a few days before you arrive.
    • Why? Mistakes can be made and your reservations might have been changed or not even entered.

Checking In

  1. Call if you're going to be late, even if it's only ten minutes late.
    • Why? Because if the hotel is busy they might give your room to someone else!
  2. You have the option to request a certain type of room. Ask what is available:
    • Smoking/nonsmoking
    • With a certain number of beds and sizes – king, queens, double, twins
    • With a good view
    • Patio or balcony
    • The highest floor you can get for your agreed-to hotel room price
    • Away from the elevator and the stairs (no doors or dings…)
    • Away from the ice and vending machines
    • Away from the hotel gym/pool/recreation area (lots of doors opening and closing)
    • Away from the bar/restaurant
    • Away from hotel construction

    WHN TIP: Switching Rooms

    If you need to switch rooms, have the hotel manager (or whomever) take you around to show you the options. Don’t take your luggage with you when you do this. Make your choice to move (or stay where you are) and THEN have them move your luggage.

  3. Ask about check in and out procedures.
  4. Ask about tipping policies. Some hotels (all inclusives) include tips in services and request that you NOT tip. If you’re at an all inclusive – ask how much of a tip is included in the fixed price (10-15%). You may want to tip more. It’s usually at your discretion, but it’s good to know.

    WHN TIP: Tipping

    If staff are helpful or friendly, tip them where appropriate. If not, let management know. Don't be shy - most management want your stay to be the best they can make it.

    Hotel Safety and Security

    1. A Hotel Safe
      • While booking, ask how big the safe is (height, width, depth). While there are standard sizes, your hotel’s standard size may not fit your laptop plus other valuables you’d like to lock up (jewelry, cell phone, money, passports, credit cards)
      • Ask if the safe is a key or combination. Another key isn’t a problem, just one more thing you’ll need to keep track of.
      • You can also ask to keep your most important items (passport, airplane tickets) with the concierge – they usually have a larger safe just for guests.
    2. Preventing Theft
      • Lock your luggage once you’ve arrived at your hotel. Use sturdy locks either with a key or combination.
      • Don't put the Maid Service tag on your door if you won't be there. It alerts burglars to an empty room.
      • Leave the TV or radio on while you’re gone. People will think you’re in the room.
    3. Safety Tips
      • Don't prop doors open while moving in and out of the hotel room - it could be an invitation to trouble!
      • As you walk through the halls notice the exit signs, fire stairs and where the fire extinguishers and pull fire alarms are located.
      • Read the emergency exit plan in your hotel room (usually located on the back of the main door).
      • If the alarm sounds, exit immediately! The alarm sounds for a reason!


    Need directions? Reservations? A certain service? Transportation arrangements? Ask a concierge.

    A concierge is a hotel employee who assists you and meets any and all of your requests. Don't hesitate to ask them for assistance. It is their job to be there for you and treat you as a honored guest.

    You can also use a concierge service even when you're not traveling. To locate a concierge service nearest you, visit the National Concierge Association's web site.

    Updated: 5/2009