If there’s one thing that can make or break short trips is where you choose your accommodation. Its importance is compounded when you arrive late or depart early but it’s always paramount to spend your time wisely.
Take these tips to heart when you are trying to decide on an accommodation and learn how to choose your hotel on short trips.
#1 Have a clear focus
What is it that you really really want to explore? The reality of short trips is that you won’t be able to see and do all. So focus is more than ever important.
If you are going for the first time to a certain city, your natural focus will be the city center and the main landmarks. But that’s not always the case.
What if you want to enjoy your time around tulip fields in the Netherlands? In that case, you have no reason to choose accommodation in the center of Amsterdam. Or if you want to go around the Tuscan vineyards, you don’t need to set up base in the center of Florence.
And what about traveling in summer and wanting to relax on the beach after the long cold months? The last 3 years I have flown to Athens in July/August but I never stayed in Athens itself. Why? Because heading to the beach every day would waste much more of my time than staying by the beach and occasionally heading to the historical center for sightseeing.
There’s no correct answer here, it’s your trip and you have only yourself to satisfy. The main point is not to let a lack of focus eat up your precious time with unnecessary moving-arounds.
#2 Forget alternative accommodations
Many times you’ll arrive late at your destination, so apartment rentals and other non-traditional accommodations could be problematic. The most important issue is the check-in hours. Since apartment rentals usually involve a host greeting you to give keys and instructions, it’s common to find specific hours in the property’s fine print. Apart from that, during a short trip, you won’t spend time cooking for yourself. So one of the great advantages of getting an apartment is lost.
In sum, you’re better off getting a hotel room. But always double-check it has 24h reception.
#3 Location, location, location
Do not underestimate this point. Although price is obviously an important factor, if you are on a short break, you cannot afford to not pay close attention to where you’ll be returning to once or twice a day. And it’s not just about being close to the touristic spots either. You should also consider the easiness of reaching the airport or train station.
On websites such as booking.com, you can check the general location. But if you don’t know the city well enough, paste the address on Google Maps and check:
Is this easily reachable (on foot) from subway stations?
If yes, keep it as an options. But if it involves a long walk, or worse, a bus to connect you to the subway station, close the tab and forget this place.
How well is this station connected to the network?
Simply being directly by a station is not enough, especially in big cities. Take London or Paris, for example. The extra transportation costs to travel outside of the central zones can easily offset most of the savings in accommodation. Plus the “price” of your wasted time.
If you need several subway line changes between your hotel and important landmarks and the airport, it’s also a point for second thoughts. Ideally, you should be able to reach everywhere with max 1 connection.
You should look for as central as possible locations. If the transport network is wide, stay within the most central zones, so you don’t need to purchase more expensive time-based tickets to get around.
Remember, beyond maybe having a late arrival or early departure, an easy connection to both airport/train station as well as to the landmarks you want to visit means wasting as little as possible of your time.
See concrete examples under the Accommodation category, I always dissect the location.
#4 Do not assume you must rent a car
This is especially important for Americans and my fellow Brazilians: forget the notion that you need a car no matter what. In Europe, it’s more likely to become a nuisance than not. A car does not necessarily mean faster going-arounds.
Reliable, fast and easy public transport connections are a reality here. So unless your focus is to wander among disconnected locations, forget the car! That will also give you many many more central options, as you won’t need to worry about parking. Central hotels and parking just do not mix, unless budget is not a concern. So forget the car and allow yourself plenty more options to choose from.
In most European countries you can do day-trips to the countryside with trains. Even when reliable transport is not there, you might be better off just taking taxis, private drivers or tours when needed.
These simple rules will help you make the best decision when it comes to choosing your accommodation during short trips. Never forget that your time is valuable, so take the most advantage of it. In time, these simples rules for how to choose your hotel on short trips will become second nature to you. 🙂