Hotel Rooms VS Cozy Inns Bookmark and Share

When traveling to an unfamiliar location it can be a difficult decision about where to stay. Just what are the pros and cons to be considered when trying to decide if you should book with a chain hotel or an independently owned establishment.

As you know, chain hotels tend to be the larger, “cookie cutter” type of accommodations. Although, even if you choose a chain hotel, they are not necessarily company-run. There are many “chains” that are actually individual franchises. Franchise-type hotels will be required to meet some minimum standards established by the company representing the chain. The key concept here being “minimum standards”. That can mean that not all the locations associated with the chain are equally clean and well maintained.) as others.

Often travelers will pick a chain hotel in an unfamiliar city so they feel like they’ll know what to expect – no surprises. That’s exactly what we did on our first trip to Belize. We reserved accommodations at a well-known chain hotel for our first two nights in Belize City. It was an incorrect assumption. We checked out after the first night for various reasons (not very clean, air conditioning didn’t work, etc.) and found, with the help of a guide book, the most wonderful B&B – the Fort Street Guesthouse. It was like something out of a movie – four poster beds, mosquito netting, wonderful ambience, great owners (they sent us Christmas cards for years after our visit) and terrific guests. It made visiting Belize City more memorable.

So, let’s lay out the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.

Chain Hotel Accommodations
You know what you’re getting (this is often true, but there are exceptions)
Web-enabled reservations system (frequently)
Takes most credit cards
Generous cancellation policies (often)

Tends to be a more commonplace experience
Often a sterile type atmosphere
More expensive (not always true, but remember the adage “You get what you pay for.”)

Independently Owned Accommodations
Unique types of accommodations (even things like treehouses or caves)
More of a cultural flavor
More economical (not always the case)
A more personal experience with well-informed local advice
Can be part of the adventure

Not always sure what you’re getting
Language barriers
Booking difficulties (often don’t have an online reservations system)
Upfront deposits (smaller places need to charge some, or all, of the costs upfront)
Don’t take credit cards (smaller establishments often don’t accept credit cards)
Cancellation Fees & Policies (frequently there are no refunds, unless they can re-book the accommodations, if you cancel less than a certain amount of time in advance.)

In a lot of countries there are agencies that rate independently owned accommodations, particularly Bed and Breakfast establishments. It’s a good idea to see if the property you’re looking at belongs to an association or has been rated by a tourism agency.

With advanced planning you can make your vacation a memorable experience. If things aren’t as you expect, hey, chalk it up to experience!


One Response to “Hotel Rooms VS Cozy Inns”

  1. Eleanor Brown on November 26th, 2009 4:24 pm have a feature on this topic:
    We’ve had a good response from it – seems a lot of people have things to say, mainly in favour of B&Bs/inns.

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