Hotels have long been the butt of jokes. From the inn in Chaucer, via Regency romps, any number of Victorian hotels and boarding houses, through the seaside landlady, to modern corporate luxury hotels, the accommodations and hospitality industries have been an easy target for jokes. That’s because most of us stay in hotels reasonably often.
In Britain in the old days, it would be a week by the seaside for the family holiday. Bucket and spade, rain, soggy chips and saucy postcards. In these modern times, we stay in hotel accommodation much more often than our ancestors. Even our Moms and Pops. No wonder we find things to laugh at in hotels.
I have stayed in hotels that would make anyone laugh. There was a hotel in the west of Ireland during the 1970s that was billed as the most modern building in these islands. Everything was custom-built and the media lauded it as the height of cutting edge hospitality.
Even so, the soup in the restaurant was from a packet and still crunchy, the dessert was frozen solid and inedible, and no one was able to work the charging system. When we mentioned these slight problems to the waiter, a cartoon chef emerged from the kitchen, complete with big bushy moustache and meat cleaver. Worst even than the food (and I won’t even mention the rock-hard egg and uncooked bacon at breakfast), was the fact that the heating was stuck on “full” all night, with the windows welded shut. The next morning, the manager was in reception, dressed in his frock coat, receiving complaints from a line of guests and handing out free stay vouchers.
“Yes, I know, it’s terrible,” he kept saying. “I really do apologise. We’ve only just opened, and there are one or two teething problems to iron out,” and so on…
The very best series about hotel mistakes and errors must be John Cleese’s excellent Fawlty Towers, which first aired on the BBC in the 1970s. Although only 12 episodes were ever made, it has long been seen as a comedy classic. The reason those of us in the hotel business find it so funny is that it’s so close to real life. For example, the manager may not be a snob and a bigot, but chances are the rest of the staff will consider him stuffy and ridiculous. If not, they’re almost certainly being kind.
Here is a brief section from an episode from the first series, first broadcast on 10th October, 1975. Episode 4 is titled The Hotel Inspectors and is one of the funniest extracts ever. It has been said that if you don’t find the series funny, then either you have never stayed in a hotel or else you’ve got no sense of humour.
Can it really be possible for the finest hotel in the world to be in Dubai? The owners of the Burj Al Arab say it is. And to prove it, they say that their hotel has seven stars. Yes, this is a 7 star hotel.
It’s hard to see how any hotel can be called “7 star luxury”. It’s a bit like Spinal Tap’s guitar amplifier that “goes up to 11″, and salesmen who claim to give their employers 110%. But Burj Al Arab, described as “the world’s most luxurious 7 Star Hotel” is located in the United Arab Emirates state of Dubai. The stars seem to stem from the hotel’s over-the-top sense of luxury, such as having reception desks on every floor and a jacuzzi in every suite.
Burj Al Arab literally means “tower of the Arabs” and, at 321 metres from ground to tip, it has the distinction of being the fourth tallest hotel in the world. You may be surprised to learn that only the top two are in Dubai, the third tallest is in North Korea. There’s a fact to counter the stereotypes!
This futuristic quill-shaped tower was built on an artificial island, within slumming distance of Jumeirah Beach. This area used to be called Chicago Beach until the powers that be realised that the name conjured up images of Al Capone, stockyards and labour migration among many of the world’s population. In the hotel itself you can expect a very high ratio of staff to customer. Judging by the video, all of them seem to be smiling all the time.
Here’s a promotional video about it. It may shock you (especially if you’re the type who likes to arrive at a hotel quietly and without fuss):
Another surprise is that the Burj Al Arab has only 202 bedroom luxurious suites, over 22 double-storey floors (it’s complicated!). The smallest suite occupies 169 square metres, the largest is 780 square metres. The listed room rate for the Royal Suite is US $18,776 per night, though I am sure discounts can be had if you haggle. There’s a fleet of modern Rolls Royces at the disposal of any guest who would rather not use the private helicopter for shopping trips.
The Burj Al Arab is very popular with the rich Chinese. In the two years since it opened, 25% of the hotel’s booking have come from what used to be Red China. When it comes to opulence and luxury accommodation, there’s nothing like the nouveau riche, it seems.
So what about this tag as “the world’s only seven-Star hotel”? To their credit the owners of the hotel say it was nothing to do with them. A spokesperson for the hotel’s owners, the Jumeirah Group said:
“There’s not a lot we can do to stop it. We’re not encouraging the use of the term. We’ve never used it in our advertising.”
It seems that a British journalist on a press trip coined to phrase to describe the zealous levels of service and quality she encountered. Needless to say, when the phrase started t be used by other journalists, the owners could only shrug and modestly claim that the “seven star” thing was nothing to do with them.
There’s no doubt that Burj Al Arab is a leading hotel of the world. It might even be classified as “the best” by some of its customers, but surely when you get to these levels of opulence, the height of luxury can be very subjective. Is it so much better than all the 5 star hotels in Dubai? And are there any 6 star hotels around the block to compete? Probably not, if the story we’ve heard is true. But to be called the “best hotel in the world” is a big ask, even for a 7 star hotel.
Can Burj Al Arab live up to its hype before Trip Advisor fills up with stories about hairs in the wash basin and butlers not bowing quite low enough. Only time will tell.
Here’s another video about Dubai. It’s hosted by British chat show host Piers Morgan, but don’t let that put you off. It was shown on ITV and doesn’t have a bad word to say about the country and its rulers. There’s lots of fun spotting product placement and you can easily guess were Piers and his crew were staying whist in Dubai. Tells you all you need to know about luxury hotels in the modern world:
We’ve got to to alert you to an important detail that could potentially ruin your holiday or business trip. Back in September I was looking through Youtube for new cheap hotel-related videos when I came across this video by “Skyrangerpro”:
Since then the staff and friends of this site have visited a few hotels, most of which had safes tucked away somewhere in a bedroom closet or cupboard. The type of safe you’ll in hotels find seems universal, whether you are staying in Bristol, Bangkok or Brisbane, and they all seem to incorporate the same digital locking and unlocking mechanism as shown in the Youtube video. The bad news is that the universal access code “000000″ worked in 24 out of 28 hotels we stayed at. The worse news is that “123456″ worked in the other four!
We would like to hear what you discover when you are staying in hotels. Please use the comments section below. Thanks… and take care.
Hotel finder websites that purport to find you cheap accommodation seem to be everywhere on the internet right now. Some will find you the best online hotel deals, most will not. You really need to know how to take advantage of “the system” to make it work for you. Here is the definitive guide to making the most from accommodation websites.
Step #1: Find Your Hotel
Assuming you know where you want to go, decide how much you want to spend. Begin your search by using a hotel comparison website such as Hotels.com and Expedia.com and look and see what the prices are for like for the period you want to stay. Don’t forget, your aim is to get the best room at the cheapest price.
Don’t pay too much attention to the hotel’s star rating, as these vary from country to country and are often self-rated – which means that the hotel decides how many stars it should have! See other articles on this website for further details on how the star rating system works.
Step #2: Check Trip Advisor
Trip Advisor is a worldwide phenomena on which real visitors and travelers review places they have stayed at, and includes photographs taken by past guests. You can search for hotels in various resorts and cities to see whether they are top-notch or tips. Trip Advisor is the most accepted website of the moment. Pick your favored hotel and have a reserve standing by. Part of getting the very best deal involves a little flexibility!
Step #3: Check The Price Offered By The Hotel
This can either be via the hotel’s own website or by telephone. I suggest you try both as special offers and bargain deals can be found on either. Two-for-one offers, free breakfasts and gratis parking are usually reserved for personal customers only. Remember that comparison websites are usually reserved for getting rid of surplus rooms and that a premium often has to be paid to the website operator, so it’s not surprising you can get better deals direct.
Step #4: Spend A Little Time & Find The Best Deal
Do some searching. Check out online ads and do some searching to find the best price, but make sure you are comparing like with like. Check the standard of room and whether breakfast is included… and watch out for hidden extras such as booking fees and local taxes. Remember, the person who finds the best value hotel accommodation is the one who wins!
This website exists to help you find the cheapest hotels, both for business and for pleasure. When we asked a sample of 100 hotel guests why they had chosen their particular accommodation, 61% of them said it was because of the hotel’s location. Price had very little to do with their decision. So what price cheap hotels now?
Survey: Location Said To Be Main Reason For Hotel Choice
We discovered that only 21% of the guests we sampled over 12 London hotels in early November 2011, cited cost as their primary reason for choosing a particular hotel. This I find very surprising. But I don’t know why I continue to be amazed: whenever I stay at a hotel I am always shocked that other people are paying wildly differing prices for essentially identical rooms. Because I am “in the cheap hotels business”, I know how to get a very good price, but I’ve known other guests pay as much as five times (yes, 5x) the price I’ve paid for rooms practically next to each other. Other articles on this website reveal the secret methods I use, whether you’re booking cheap weekend breaks or a round the world trip.
Another interesting result in the Hotel Finder Survey was that five out of the 100 guests said that their company had booked their accommodation for them. So, surely the company would be looking to find the best possible rates and using their corporate clout to reduce rooming costs? Not in my experience. A few weeks ago I stayed at a Hilton hotel at a university town in England. I paid £98 a night for my fairly comfortable room (just don’t ask what the cost of the wi-fi was! Ludicrously expensive). The six rooms next to mine were occupied on a medium-term basis by visiting software designers (or something) from the USA, whose company had a research deal with the university. Even though they were six people staying for almost seven weeks (a total of 40 night), their rooms were being charged at £175 a night each. That works out to a massive 79% more. And their firm had signed an exclusive deal with Hilton in order to get the “best” prices!
I find that this is the problem when it’s someone’s job to book accommodation in a business environment: unless it’s their money they are spending, cost does not become a primary concern. Let’s assume that you and I are spending our own money when we book hotel accommodation and that we want the best deal. That’s what this website was set up for: to help you find the cheapest hotel bargains.
Survey: 5% of hotel guests are “return customers”
Of course, cost should not be the only reason for choosing a hotel. Anyone who booked a flea-ridden room a hundred miles away from where they want to be, would be a jerk. The real secret of getting cheaper hotels is to be flexible. Weigh up the three primary factors – location, price and quality – before you make your booking. Personally, I always aim for 4-5 star quality at 3 star prices.
The results of the survey are good news for those of us who are looking for he best hotel prices. Because the majority of people do not consider cost to be their primary concern when booking into a particular hotel, it means that the rest of us have the opportunity to get the better deals. The great think about being able to sniff out bargain hotel rooms is that it’s like playing a computer game – and when you get a really good hotel really cheap, the buzz is terrific!
The Hotel Finder Blog exists not only to provide top class information about finding cheap hotels and discounts, but also as an outsider’s guide to the hotel, hospitality and accommodation industry. Knowing how hotels work makes you better prepared to get the best hotel deals and so the cheapest hotel accommodation.
There are three main ways to book cheap hotels online: via a general hotel booking website (such as laterooms.com, hotels.com, bookings.com.com and so on), through a hotel’s own website and via a chain hotel’s central reservations site (e.g. hilton.com, radisson.com and marriott.com).
Cheap Hotel Tip: Read As Many Reviews As You Can
The way each type of site is financed differs and this provides a key to how they operate. Online guides which offer a hotel search facility exist by charging commission to the hotels for any rooms you might book. No sale means that they earn nothing and so everything is geared towards making you part with money. Very often (but not always) these websites will cull any negative comments and display only positive reviews. This is good for the hotels but bad for prospective guests like you. If any hotel on any of these websites has zero comments, it means either no one has booked there via that site or else the only reviews were bad. A good tip would be to avoid them if at all possible. Bargain price hotels can be good, but they can also be terrible.
Obviously the hotel chain’s own website is not going to include negative reviews either. The same goes for individual hotel websites. That is why it is so important that you research hotels online using genuine review sites (such as Trip Advisor), but bearing in mind that not all comments about cheap hotels are going to be fair. You should take all comments (both good and bad) with the proverbial pinch of salt.
Hotel Finder Tips: Use A Hotel Search To Find The Cheapest Rooms
- Search for cheap hotels on the big hotel finder sites like Travelocity, Hotels.com, Priceline, and so on.
- Make sure you are comparing like with like. Some hotel deals do not include breakfast, parking or free internet, breakfast etc.
- Check the hotel’s own web site to see if a better deal is on offer.
Call the hotel directly. While you may get a better price on cheap hotel finder websites, they almost certainly will not tell you about exclusive deals or special offers, such as Cheap Weekend Breaks.
- Whether you book a room on the telephone or on a hotel finder website, ask the clerk any questions you might have when making the hotel reservation. You might want to ask about smoking, parking, pets, location, restaurants and so on.
Ask the clerk for an information packet or brochure about the hotel, to ensure that you know exactly what to expect.
- When you make a reservation, whether online or on the telephone, always confirm the reservation stating what you think you booked (double bed, king-size bed, twin room, cooked breakfast, etc) and make a note of the reservation number.
Specialist accommodation websites are a great way to find cheap hotels, but sometimes it pays to call direct. Just remember there may be a good reason the price is so low.
So, you’re looking for a bargain hotel finder? It’s easy enough to find a website that will direct you towards available hotels in most areas of the world, but BEWARE. Are they really the best way to find the right hotel for you? The answer to that question is an ambiguous, “yes and no”.
“Yes”, because online hotel finder websites are the quickest and easiest way to find out what’s available and “no” because it is unlikely that any one website will give you all the answers. These websites exist to make money for their owners by extracting affiliate fees from the hotels they refer you to. Too often these websites will direct you to hotels that are unsuitable, either because they are not very good or because there’s a better one for you nearby that they don’t have have a deal with.
Hotel Finder Tip: Get it right when you book: afterwards is too late.
When it comes to booking a hotel, the three basics you need to get right are:
- good location
- the right price
Get just one of these wrong and you’re in trouble – get two or more wrong and your stay will be a disaster. The secret is to use hotel finder websites to provide you with information to enable you to make the best choice when booking your hotel room. Remember that the information they are giving you is earning them money and so take everything they say “with a pinch of salt”.
Using Hotel Finder Websites To Find You The Best Deal:
- Put aside an hour or more to research your hotel. Better to spend time now than find yourself in a terrible hotel room; it’ll be too late then!
- Check out as many different hotel finder sites as you have time to research.
- Google ads are a good way to access hotel finder websites.
- Don’t book anything until you have finished your research.
- Check out review sites, such as TripAdvisor to see what these hotels are really like.
- Compare prices before you book anything.
- Make sure you are comparing like with like. For example, check that you are looking at the same standard of rooms and whether breakfast is included or not.
- Make sure you are not going to hit with extra charges. Some of the larger hotel finder websites show basic room prices and then add on booking fees and local taxes and so on. Avoid these websites like the plague!
- Look for local hotel finder websites and use them. For example, ones ending in .co.uk for Great Britain, .ca for Canada and so on. They will often have better choices and better information than big global comparison websites we will not name (you know who they are!).
- Check the hotel’s own website before you book anything. Even if you can’t speak the language. You will often find better deals to be had booking direct (no nasty affiliate fees to pay) and the information will be better. But always remember: they are trying to sell you on their hotel, so don’t expect any degree of even-handedness whatsoever. I repeat: they are trying to sell you their hotel, so they will not be totally honest about how bad or good they are. At least hotel finder websites don’t care which hotel you book at – but they do want you to book your bargain hotel with them.
Nothing (at least when it comes to booking hotels and accommodation) is worse than booking into somewhere that doesn’t match your expectations. It’s happened to me many times, though more in the past than recently. My mistakes propelled me forward to book the best rooms I could find at the best prices. Now I think I’m getting pretty good at it.
By all means use online bargain hotel finder websites to find the best deals for you – remembering the three areas to concentrate on: location, comfort and price – but make sure you filter the information they give you to your advantage.