Hotel Warning Signs
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18 Warning Signs to Watch Out for When Booking a Hotel

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Hotel Warning Signs
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HOTEL BOOKER BEWARE

Securing a great hotel room for your vacation is a key part of the overall vacation experience. To truly enjoy your downtime, you should be bunking in accommodations that are clean, well-kept, within your budget and in an ideal location -- whether that's in the thick of the city or in the heart of the country. To help ensure you're not sorely disappointed with your next hotel stay, and that you also get the most for your money, here are important tips from travel industry insiders regarding what to look for and what to avoid when booking a room.

Unusually Low Rates
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THE HOTEL OFFERS UNUSUALLY LOW RATES

Who doesn't love a good bargain? But Ernest Shahbazian, the Los Angeles based founder of TripAstute, says one should be cautious of hotel rooms advertised at incredibly low rates. "I once booked a DoubleTree hotel in Virginia that had unusually low rates, especially when compared to other similar hotels in the area," he explained. "When I arrived, it was immediately evident why the rates were so low. The hotel was connected to a shopping mall and was undergoing major construction." Lesson learned -- there's a reason a hotel may be unusually cheap.

Negative Reviews on Sites
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NEGATIVE REVIEWS ON MULTIPLE WEBSITES

In our high-tech, social media obsessed world, this bit of advice should go without saying. There are plenty of platforms out there that provide reviews of hotels. Do your research. It doesn't take a long time to hunt down what travelers are saying about a property. Some of the top review sites include TripAdvisor and Oyster (which bills itself as the hotel tell-all).

Reviews Appear to Be Fake
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HOTEL REVIEWS APPEAR TO BE FAKE

It's also important to understand that there are some review scams out there, including fraudulent reviews posted on sites like TripAdvisor and others. Frauds come in the form of reviews written by hotel employees, ex-hotel employees and anyone with an agenda. "If the reviews praise everything from the staff to the parking, and if you notice something formulaic about them, such as no typos, uniformly perfect grammar, and just sheer flattery, then it's likely that you're either looking at paid reviews or reviews done by staff of the hotels themselves in order to counterbalance negative reviews," advises Marko Mihajlovic, tour director at TourMakers. "Move along, I'd say."

Negative Hotel Staff
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NEGATIVE RESPONSES TO REVIEWS FROM HOTEL STAFF

One other important point about reading reviews prior to booking a room. Check to see if any representatives from the hotel in question have taken the time to respond to reviews. (Responses are typically listed below the original review). Reading such responses provides a snapshot of the level of professionalism of the property. Did the hotel address negative concerns respectfully? Or did they lash out at the critic? All of this information helps you gauge what kind of hotel stay you may be in for.

Hotel is Inconveniently Located
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THE HOTEL IS IN AN INCONVENIENT LOCATION

Location, location, location. Its an adage that's not only true when buying a home. It also applies to your hotel stay, which could make or break a vacation idyll. Andre Arriaza, travel blogger for Barcelona Eat Local, suggests always researching the hotel's location on Google maps. "Think about how accessible it is vis-a-vis your itinerary," says Arriaza. You could even try Instant Street View to get a real sense of what the surrounding neighborhood is like.

Special Offers Are Too Good To Be True
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SPECIAL OFFERS APPEAR TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

Nothing beats a deal. This includes a special offer or package deal at a hotel or resort. But it's important to read the terms of such offers carefully, says Arriaza, of Barcelona Eat Local. And if you can't find answers to your questions about the special offer on a booking engine, call the hotel directly. "Look for straight answers about the offer they propose," he says. "Such as which services are included and not included. Saying that parking is available doesn't mean it is free. Stating that a child is allowed doesn't mean that child stays for free. Whenever you spot a generic description for an issue, you might want to try to get more information."

Staff is Unfriendly on Phone
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THE STAFF IS UNFRIENDLY OR RUDE WHEN YOU CALL

When you do call a hotel, take note of just how pleasant and responsive they are to your questions. It's often a good indicator of the level of service you can expect when staying at the property. And service is critical when something goes wrong. "Even the most expensive hotel can have something wrong," says Arriaza, of Barcelona Eat Local. "If the staff isn't supportive or friendly, it's very likely that if you find a problem with your accommodation such as it's too noisy or the toilet is broken, they won't be that helpful finding a solution."

The Hotel Has Bad WiFi
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THE HOTEL HAS LOUSY WIFI

If you're unable to disconnect from technology when traveling, then poor WiFi at a hotel could put a damper on your trip. Fortunately, Hotel WiFi Test can help determine just how good or bad a hotel's WiFi is, before booking a room. The site provides a directory of hundreds of hotels where the WiFi has been tested, listing properties in major cities such as Paris, London, New York, and more. You can also conduct a speed test of a property's WiFi ahead of time, which award-winning travel photographer Gary Arndt finds invaluable. "I always recommend checking the bandwidth of the hotel WiFi on Hotel Wifi Test," he says. "This way you can know ahead of time if the bandwidth is going to allow you to get work done. Simply saying that a hotel has WiFi doesn't really give you any information."

Hotel Has a History of Bed Bugs
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THE HOTEL HAS A HISTORY OF BED BUGS

One way to set yourself up for a pleasant hotel stay is to make sure you won't be sleeping with bed bugs. Luckily there's a website to help with just that. Bed Bug Reports, allows users to enter the name of a hotel and find out whether any other fellow travelers have reported the pesky bugs at the particular property. While the website doesn't list every hotel on the planet, it can be helpful. Another way to research this issue before booking is to simply read traveler reviews on a variety of travel sites.

Hotel is Nowhere Near Transportation
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THE HOTEL IS NOWHERE NEAR CONVENIENT TRANSPORTATION

Vague location descriptions and stating that a property is accessible by public transportation can be somewhat of a scam when it comes to finding a centrally located hotel, says travel writer Anne Steinbach, who created the site AnneWhere.com. "Saying that a property is closely connected to the nearest public transport can sometimes mean you are in the middle of nowhere and that the only thing that connects you to other people is a one hour train ride into the city," says Steinbach. Again, double check the hotel's location before booking.

Paying More at Large Chains
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PAYING MORE AT LARGE CHAINS INSTEAD OF INDEPENDENT HOTELS

When conducting a search for a hotel room, don't assume that independent hotels offer a somehow inferior experience. Smaller hotels may provide a far better deal, often being open to more negotiation than a large chain. There are even hotel booking sites that specialize in boutique properties, which are worth perusing, among them MrandMrsSmith.com and ChicRetreats.com.

Getting Stuck in an Inferior Room
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GETTING STUCK IN AN INFERIOR ROOM

Here's a little known insider tip to test out the next time you're planning a hotel stay -- request a corner room. While this can't be done on a booking engine, it can be done by calling the hotel to book your room directly. (You can also make this request upon check-in.) Why is this a good idea? Because, just like the corner office, it will often land you in a much more spacious, desirable room, with more square footage for the same price.

1-800 Numbers that Block Deals
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1-800 NUMBERS BLOCK YOU FROM DEALS

If you're seeking to book a hotel room directly with the property (and perhaps score some deals or perks during the booking), the 1-800 numbers are typically not the best approach. In many cases, such numbers connect you with an off site customer service center, not a hotel employee at the property in question. And it's the employees working onsite at the property that are more likely to upgrade your room or provide other perks.

Higher Rates When Booking In Advance
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HIGHER RATES WHEN BOOKING OUTSIDE OF CANCELLATION PERIOD

For those who don't mind waiting until the last minute to reserve a room, you can often score substantial savings by booking anywhere from 24 to 48 hours in advance of a planned stay. Why do this? Because hotel cancellations often occur 24 to 48 hours ahead of arrival dates, at which point rooms become available at lower rates.

Reservations Can't Be Made with Apps
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RESERVATIONS CAN'T BE MADE WITH HOTEL APPS

There's been a proliferation of apps designed to help travelers score better, cheaper hotel rooms, many offering a variety of discounts and loyalty programs. Among the noteworthy apps to peruse the next time you're planning to book a hotel room is Hotel Tonight, which provides some pretty significant discounts and Hotels.com, which also has its own app that allows for searching for bargains and booking from your phone.

Missing Deals on New Properties
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MISSING DEALS ON BRAND NEW PROPERTIES

A property that has just come onto the market may be more willing to offer deals, according to the experts. Such properties are eager to increase business and spread the word about their existence. You may also be more likely to score upgrades at up and coming properties. When perusing search engines, look for properties that are advertising a grand opening or being relatively new.

Hotel Posts Misleading Photos
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THE HOTEL POSTS MISLEADING PHOTOS

Who doesn't jump right to the hotel photo gallery when scoping out a property? Pictures after all are worth far more than words. But when looking at such photos, be sure to do so with a skeptical eye. Photos are one of the top ways of misleading potential guests and also offer some of the biggest red flags. So what to look for exactly? Keep an eye out for pictures that look overly airbrushed or manipulated. In addition, if photos are blurry or appear out of date that should also be of concern.

Low Rates Don't Include Taxes
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LOW ROOM RATES DON'T INCLUDE TAXES

Because hotels want to appear at the top of hotel booking search engines some list rates that exclude taxes, says Ian Paterson, travel consultant and creator of Resfeber Travel Blog. Those taxes will still have to be paid upon arrival, even though they aren't included in the advertised price. "The hotels appear on search engines to have a lower rate than their competitors but the reality is they don't include the tax," explains Paterson. "All but the eagle eyed get caught by this ethically questionable technique." Paterson recommends always reading the fine print on hotel booking search engines, where taxes are required to be disclosed.