Time and time again, I have said I love to travel and I am on a mission to get you traveling more often, staying longer and experiencing the potentially life-changing positive power of travel. And if you heed my inspirational words or videos, then you too will find yourself (most likely) in need of an answer to the following question: Where are we going to stay? According to the American Lodging Association there are 5,000,000 hotel and motel rooms to choose from in the United States alone. You read it right; six zeros; five million. That’s a lot! You may also be wondering if a vacation rental, B&B or Air B&B could be the right option. I wouldn’t dare speculate on which option is best for YOU; that’s up to you. But I would like to offer my advice.
If I have a choice, I stay in a hotel or motel. Tried and true brands who have stood the test of time usually have been able to do so for a reason. Meaning, they have earned a right to still be offering rooms at a fair price. The reasons I prefer hotels/motels over vacation rentals or Air B&Bs are pretty basic. Reliability, safety, cleanliness and amenities.
First, I travel a lot so I like earning points with brands I stay at most frequently. This may not apply to you, so let’s leave that off the table for now. By staying at a known brand, I am hedging my bets that I will ACTUALLY be getting what I paid for when I arrive. Brand standards are pretty stringent, so even if you are a franchised property, being a part of that brand (think Marriott, Hilton or IHG) comes with rigorous inspections and compliance. Granted, not all franchise-owned properties are created equal, but in my opinion, it’s a step in the right direction.
Safety is also a big concern of mine when I’m traveling. Security systems, working fire alarms and tourist-friendly neighborhoods are all factors to consider. Hotel brands are in the business of making their guests happy and keeping them safe. This means they have skin in the game and if, in the unlikely event, something goes wrong, they have more to lose than the causal lodging enthusiast.
Cleanliness is a huge one for me. Bed Bugs, stained sheets, rings around the toilet or showers, dirty carpets, insects or rodents and other disgusting details lurking in the shadows (most of which are invisible to the naked eye) can ruin a good night’s sleep and/or your entire vacation. Hotel brands have strict cleanliness standards. Of course, they don’t always abide by them, but at least they are in place. They also have practices and procedures in place to address the occasional cleanliness issue.
Amenities and services are also a factor in my lodging decision. I like knowing what is available to me when I check in. Minibar, snacks, laundry, dry cleaning, concierge, ironing board, hair dryer, cocktail lounge, reliable internet, safe parking and valet are all services/amenities I may require for a comfortable stay. When you stay OUTSIDE of a known brand, these items/services are sometimes hard to come by, not available or simply inconsistently offered across the board. Of course, you may not care about any of these items, but when I’m traveling with my family, something is bound to come up and I want to solve the issue efficiently and cost-effectively.
Traditional B&Bs are another matter to consider altogether. These business owners DO have skin in the game but we’ll save that discussion for another post.
I’m not against Air B&Bs. There are plenty of Air B&B owners who DO treat their home as a business and I applaud them for doing so. I am simply offering my cautionary tale as I want YOU to have an amazing trip and mitigate as many risk factors as I can think of before you step foot outside your house.
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!