How I pick hotels | Bring Your Baby Trips & Tours
Before I had kids I was very cost-conscious when it came to choosing accommodation when traveling. I really didn’t care about amenities nor brand of hotel. I wanted it to be clean, of course, and in a safe area but other than that – I just wanted it be to cheap. Remind me to tell you about those times when I stayed at ‘White House Hotel’ on the Bowery, a flophouse that I nicknamed ‘Bed Bugs Inn’.
I’m not frugal anymore. I’m still not a snob and I still can’t spend a lot of money on hotel stays but I definitely do need a certain standard to be met. I am also all about everything points/miles/rewards! If there’s a rewards program – you better believe I’m on it.
Perhaps it wasn’t the best option but some years ago I started collection Hilton Honors points after signing up for a new credit card that offered a sign-up bonus, and silver status. Fast forward to now I’m Diamond and have exchanged points for stays many times and have accumulated enough at the moment to pay for a little getaway. I use the credit card for practically everything – I even paid rent with it some times.
For me, especially when traveling with the kids it’s important that I get this:
- Free parking. Now, I know I could pay for valet but that usually adds a substantial charge to my stay.
- Breakfast. Either it be included for all or due to my membership status. Breakfast is important for me especially because of traveling with kids. I need to make sure they have something in the morning and I usually bring what ever fruit / breakfast bars that’s leftover with me in the car / stroller for the rest of the day.
- Microwave and mini fridge. Most of the hotels I’ve stayed at in the hilton portfolio have had these in the rooms. It goes with the same argument as with breakfast; with kids it’s important to be able to store and serve som foods throughout the day. I can easily bring with me microwaveable pouches of rice & vegggie/ Mac and cheese /oatmeals for the microwave. I’m not saying that’s all we eat when we’re on the go, but if you’ve ever had a baby and a small child you know there’s times where that’s the best thing you can offer them. Mini fridge keeps our water and mommy’s iced coffee cold and if there’s leftover foods from take-out/delivery then we can save that for the next day.
- Toiletries. While I do dislike the amount of wasteful plastic that comes from it I like that the shampoo/conditioner/soap etc. is a brand I’d usually use so I don’t have to carry my own preferable products. I like the brand that we always find at the Hilton properties we stay at; Neutrogena.
- Coffee maker. Ok, so let me start off by saying that while I know some people find hotel coffee makers icky – because who really knows what they’ve been used for – I also have made peace with that fact and the importance of having a fresh brewed cup of coffee in the morning even before I can go to the breakfast area and grab one, is paramount. Without coffee I am sad.
- Safe neighborhoods. One of the things about only booking according to budget means that you can sometimes end up in areas that aren’t the nicest. With Hilton properties I feel that they’ve taken the guesswork out of the decision making process for me and I assume that their properties are in decent areas. That doesn’t mean I haven’t stayed at a place where I was a little concerned, but for the most part I feel safe leaving my car in the parking outside and safe enough in my room.
Majority of the hilton stays we’ve had, has been at Hampton Inn & suites. Once you’ve stayed at one you’ve seen them all. And I like the comfort of that.
So when I do research for vacations or trips 80% of the time we end up at a Hampton Inn property. When my income goes back to pre-pandemic times maybe I’ll up the level a bit but for now I’m happy, because I can afford great stay at decent properties and experience awesome things with my kids.
With my American Express credit card, and my diamond status I now collect Hilton Honors points much faster and very soon I’ll be able to exchange them for a one week get-away completely free of charge. Oh, and the diamond status gives me a cute little perk of getting the better parking spots in the area. Way to feel VIP … let’s not forget about the occasional upgrade 😉
Let me ask you; what is most important for you when choosing accommodation?