Lifestyle & Parenting

Hotelling Demystified

August 29, 2017

Seeing as we’re currently in the process of manifesting a two-week kid-free trip to Italy in summer 2018 (the more people we tell, the more likely it is to happen, right?), we jumped at the chance to sit down with top gun Josh Belkin (who, as dad to a toddler himself, fully understands the woes—er, we mean joys—of travelling with child. Check out our Q&A below for Josh’s top booking, holidaying and hacking tips. —Noa Nichol

When’s the best time to book a hotel?

No surprise here—earlier is always better, and being flexible with your dates is a huge boon in getting the best room at the best rate. It’s also helpful to get acquainted with supply and demand in different markets. If you’re, say, heading to Toronto for TIFF, you’re going to be looking at a landscape that’s likely been saturated well in advance. Same goes for Florida in winter. If you’re thinking about Vegas, though, that city is very accommodating to visitors and has a huge supply of amazing hotels—and deals!—to choose from, all year round.

How can we get the most out of our hotel stay?

My top tip here would be to try and get out of the star-rating mindset, if possible. Star ratings are usually based on amenities—for example, if there’s a pool on the property, rather than how "nice" the hotel is. If an indoor pool is not a priority for you, you can save a lot of money and not miss out on much by staying at a three-star property.

What do we base our search on then, if not on star ratings?

This is a great little tip, and one that I use myself—you can filter your search on by guest review scores, rather than star ratings. Not only that, you can filter these scores according to guests that most resemble you—for instance, people travelling with children, honeymooners or business travellers. I’ve stayed at some absolute gems based on things that previous guests loved.

Top destinations for Canadian travellers at the moment?

Domestically Toronto and Montreal are in the top spots, with Victoria a close third. Internationally, New York remains a perennial top destination, with Vegas and London following. Despite the recent tragedies and challenges in Europe, that continent is still attracting plenty of Canadians—travellers are very resilient.

Beyond the standard hotel offerings, what trends are you seeing in travel accommodations?

Our name may be, but we offer so much more than that. From vacation rentals to, if you can believe it, tree houses, there’s so much more to book on our website beyond the big-box hotels. We’ve even recently partnered with the U.S. National Park Service to offer, for the first time, lodge-type properties right in the country’s most spectacular parks!

What are your top three hotel hacks?

The first would be around booking your room on a mobile device—the free app includes secret prices only available to users. Following that would be to take advantage of loyalty programs—there’s rewards, discounts and secret pricing opportunities available there, too. Finally, don’t be afraid to be in direct conversation with your hotel. If you need something, or something is wrong with your room or your stay, speak up. The last thing hotels want is a negative online guest review, and most—if not all—will do everything they can to correct the issue and ensure your stay is enjoyable.

What’s been your best-ever hotel experience?

That’s a tough question, but I’d have to say my honeymoon on the British Virgin Islands. The hotel we stayed at sat on its own private island and included every luxury imaginable—you really can’t beat that for a romantic getaway!


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