Staying in an unfamiliar city, working on a budget, and trying to find a decent hotel… three factors that seem impossible to fit together. Yet, it is definitely possible to find a good hotel on a budget when you don’t know the area all that well.
The first option is obviously to stay somewhere you’ve been before. If it’s a city you haven’t visited before, try to talk to someone who has either visited or lived in this city and ask them about hotels they have stayed in or heard about. You could find a hidden gem this way!
If nobody you know has been to the city you are visiting, there are still ways of finding out which hotels are reputable and which to avoid at all costs… other than by trial and error.
You can use the internet to research hotel reviews ahead of time, or even when you arrive (though it’s best to do your research beforehand). Remember that one person’s experiences might be negative, ut the hotel has served most customers well and this person simply had a minor negative incident that he is blowing out of proportion. If all the reviews are negative, however, it’s a warning signal. Pay attention to the dates of reviews too, as sometimes hotels will switch management and suddenly improve or become worse. This is generally one of the best methods (apart from asking a friend or coworker about their experience) for finding a good hotel.
If possible, try talking with a travel agent about hotel bookings, particularly if you are already using one to book a plane ticket. They are often knowledgeable about the best and worst places to stay in a given city.
Call the hotels and browse their websites to see what services they offer and compare them ahead of time, so there won’t be any nasty surprises.
Once you’ve confirmed a hotel has the services you require, at the rate you want, and is well-known for good customer service, book a room with confidence and wait for your vacation!