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How to Find a Hotel Online
How to find hotels online without getting burned

Finding a hotel on the Internet can be a difficult task, but knowing what to look for can save time, frustration and money., a leader in internet travel planning, has put together a guide of things to check before booking a room on the Internet. Use this guide when visiting your favorite travel websites as a tool to find the right accommodations.

When searching the internet for a place to stay, check how the hotel appears. Hotel cleanliness and appearance are the most important factor to most travelers. Look to see if there are additional pictures other than the outside view of the hotel. Many hotels offer pictures of the interior, including individual rooms. If room pictures are not available, use the hotel rating system (if available) as a guide.

While price is surprisingly not the most important factor when selecting a hotel (see our hotel selection survey results here) it is important. Make sure the price is reasonable. Finding the actual price without entering in arrival and departure dates can be difficult, so to save time, use the rating system for the hotel as a general guide.

If non-smoking rooms are preferred, make sure the hotel lists this as an amenity. This is an often-overlooked factor that is very important to many travelers. If the travel website that is being used doesn't list the amenities, call first or find a travel website site that does.

Many hotels being offered on the Internet have already been professionally rated. Unless recently visited, pay close attention to these ratings. Usually these ratings are based on a one to five star rating system - one being the lowest and five being the best. Stay away from the non-rated or one-star rated accommodations - they can be a gamble.

Two-star rated hotels are usually the best bet for families or business travelers on a budget, and just about anybody looking to save a dime. These hotels are usually close to a city's major attractions, including the airport, and public transportation. Amenities generally include cable television, free parking and possibly a free continental breakfast. Two star properties will usually be clean but simple. Most two-star properties are a great value as far as price goes. For the most part, rates will average below $80 per night.

The rating system can be used to roughly determine the price range of a hotel by using the following guide:

One-star: Usually below $60 per night.
Two-star: Usually below $80 per night.
Three-star: Usually higher than $100 per night.
Four-star: Usually higher than $150 per night.

The rating system of the hotel can also be used as a guide to determine the cleanliness and appearance of the hotel.

One-star: Hit or Miss, Basic.
Two-star: Clean but simple, Economy.
Three-star: Spotless, Moderate.
Four-star: Impeccable, First Class.
Five-star: Flawless, Superior.

If certain amenities are desired, make sure the hotel being considered has them before booking. One amenity that is very popular, especially for families, is an indoor or outdoor swimming pool, which can make or break a family getaway, especially during foul weather. Other popular amenities include air conditioning, business centers, high-speed Internet access, refrigerators, kitchenettes and airport shuttles.

Find out if there is a convenient place to eat or a free continental breakfast. Many travelers are on the go! Having to locate nearby restaurants can be both time-consuming and inconvenient. Many hotels offer on-site eating at restaurants, pubs and cafés. Continental breakfasts are an added incentive at many hotels, allowing a quick bite in the morning for some extra sleep instead of searching for nearby restaurants. This is also a great way to save money if traveling with a family.

Check to see if any reviews have been made. Reviews from other travelers can be very valuable, but only when they are consistent. Most travelers expect clean, comfortable accommodations and therefore only go back to write reviews when they have a bad experience. Look at the overall ratings, if there aren't any ratings or if the average is good or better, it's probably ok. If the reviews are consistently bad, stay away. If the travel website provides reviews, help other travelers by adding one after returning.

Don't get stuck. Many online travel websites offer the lowest rates - and they're guaranteed! Make sure that the travel website being used is one of them! The guarantee should be in plain view with details on how to submit a refund request.

Happy travels!