View of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala from El Casa del Mundo in Jaibalito
View of Lake Atitlan from my room at El Casa del Mundo in Jaibalito, Guatemala

The beauty of Tripadvisor is the combination of guest reviews and photos – and information/photos provided by the hotel. The user supplied reviews are helpful, if read correctly. Thanks to Tripadvisor, I have found the best hotels in most of the destinations I visit, for my budget.

The best rated Tripadvisor hotels for most destinations are not always the 5-6 star $1000 night places – usually they are rated for value as well – and you’re very likely to find moderate hotels highly rated. You have to know how to read the reviews, however. Read the reviews for facts. Repeated current comments that a hotel is near a loud nightclub or an active construction site should be strongly considered. Isolated reports of rudeness at the front desk are more likely to be related to the demeanor of the reviewer.

The other benefit of looking for hotels on Tripadvisor is the search function. When you enter your travel dates, you can click to search for rates on all the major travel discount sites.

But, don’t book yet! Often you will find that when you book through an online discounter like Expedia or Travelocity, the lower rate will require prepayment. Why don’t you want to prepay? Well, for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the longer the money is in your account, the better. And, plans change. Why be locked in when you can just cancel the hotel 24-48 hours in advance? Also, once you prepay and the hotel has your money – you don’t have the power someone who hasn’t yet paid. They have to keep you happy, or you can go to a nicer hotel. They are compelled to give you a nicer room and are more likely to accommodate room change requests.

If the best rate you are finding has to be prepaid through an online travel agent, the next step is to check for special offers on the hotel’s own web site. If you don’t see anything close to the lowest rate you found online, email or call the hotel’s reservation department to ask if they will match the rate. They pay travel agents commission, even online ones – and it’s in the hotel’s interest for you to book direct. It’s always better to call the individual property than the 800# reservation line, since many chain hotels are individually owned and operated. Often there are specials offered that you only discover by calling.

As long as you make sure to cancel in time to avoid charges, there is nothing wrong with holding one cancellable hotel room while you continue to search or wait for your first choice to become available, or drop in price. But be considerate and don’t hold rooms too long, especially at smaller hotels.

Once you’ve selected and booked your desired hotel, keep copies of confirmations and any written rate/room assignment discussions you’ve had with them. Print and bring these confirmations on your trip and keep copies on file until the bills arrive.

Be clear about the cancellation policy and set reminders on your Smartphone or paper calendar for the date/s hotels must be canceled without penalty.

You can avoid all this searching by hiring a good travel agent to plan and book you trips. You don’t pay more and usually a good agent can find the best hotel for your budget, needs and in your desired location. If you’re overwhelmed by the choices online, or just want to make sure you’re getting the best deal, contact me to research, plan and book your trip. Please email me at eva @ or reach me with the Contact Form here.

Click here for a list of some of my favorite hotels.


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