Are hotels just to sleep at?

Monday, December 2, 2013 9:52 AM

So long story short, over the holiday weekend my family and I was discussing a WDW vacation next year and the age old debate came up as to where to stay. And of course some folks played the “you just sleep there” card arguing to stay in inexpensive accommodation.

We all know that Orlando has lodging options, both on and off Disney property to suit just about every budget. For me, I am a bit of a hotel snob and usually stay at properties that are more upscale. In Disney speak, that means minimum at a “moderate” level property, and often at a “deluxe” if I can get a somewhat decent deal. I feel your hotel is more than just a pillow to sleep on at night; rather it is your home away from home and as much part of the vacation experience as any other component. This line of thinking of course usually costs me more money.

I am curious to know your thoughts when you travel to other parks, or WDW. Are hotels just a place to sleep at?

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Monday, December 2, 2013 10:23 AM

Depends. Some are, some aren't; but here's the thing: even the ones that are just a place at which to sleep, I need them to be clean and at least moderately nice.

I've done the cheap dive motel thing when I was in my 20s and had little expendable income. They were "just a place to sleep at", yeah, but it was difficult to sleep comfortably (both physically and mentally) in such an environment. Never again.

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Monday, December 2, 2013 11:17 AM

IMO, there is absolutely nothing that will spoil a vacation faster than a bad hotel room. Even if it is "just a place to sleep" you will spend more than 1/3 of your time in the room.

Agree with Vater, I need as a minimum a clean room, comfortable beds, walls more than 1/2" thick, and safety. I would also like a refrigerator and microwave.

The ultimate "just a place to sleep" would be an overnight stopover on a 2-day driving trip. The last time I cut costs on an overnight room, the mold from the A/C made me so sick the remainder of our week long beach trip was ruined. Never again will I stay at a cheap hotel.

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Monday, December 2, 2013 11:36 AM

The Disney area is an exception to many rules just because there are so many rooms available. If you go in the off-season you can easily get a nice place for dirtbag prices. (Or a dirtbag place at roach motel prices, for that matter.)

About 15 years ago when my wife and I were just starting out and didn't have as much disposable income we went to Disney (they had some crazy deal with college ID back then). We stayed at a Best Western in Orlando for $29/night. The place wasn't that bad, but wasn't great by any means. There was a McDonald's next door which made for cheap breakfast, and they did free shuttles to all of the parks except Busch which saved us in parking fees. It was a great deal, but now that we're grown up with kids, I wouldn't stay there again.

The last couple times we went we had one kid and stayed on property and did the dining plan. The room was just a place to sleep, but I felt that the value resorts were more than adequate for that. The name "value" can throw you off... those properties are more along the lines of a Hampton Inn, and not at all Super-8-ish like the word 'value' implies to some.

We're going down again in the beginning of 2014, now with 2 kids and my mom, and I just don't think that the Disney resorts offer us enough space in one room to be comfortable. We're staying off-property at a Wyndham resort that gives us a full kitchen, jacuzzi tubs, and 3 separate bedrooms. It's the off-season and I got an online special so we're only paying $89/night, so even missing out on the free dining promotion that we were offered I think we're still better off.

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Monday, December 2, 2013 12:14 PM

The Great Adventure hotel will be more than just a place to sleep. It will be a miracle in modern physics, a realignment of what we now know about the space-time continuum. And that's WAY bigger than Kingda Ka.... ;~P

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Monday, December 2, 2013 12:56 PM

Your hotel room is your home away from home when you travel. I do a lot more than sleep in hotels. I do just about everything I do at home in the course of a normal day. I've always felt at a hotel, I should be as close to as comfortable as I am at home as possible.

If you think of your home as 'just a place to sleep' then doing the same for your hotel room will be fine. I suspect most people don't think of their home that way.

There a lots of ways to cut corners or be creative to save money on vacation. I can't imagine putting the hotel on that list.

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Monday, December 2, 2013 1:04 PM

From a guy who spends maybe 25% of his nights in a hotel room...

Absolutely do your research! As stated above, so much can go wrong in a bad hotel. Or even just the "wrong" hotel for your needs. Orlando in particular is just littered with cheap hotels all trying to lure in the budget conscious family, or worse, the highschool/church/tour busloads. Here more than anywhere you need to be careful.

Some tips:

1) Do your research. Look on sites like Travelocity, etc, and read reviews. Even if you do not book through the site, the user reviews offer a world of insight into things like noise, thin walls, cleanliness, etc. Learn to decipher truly bad reviews vs someone who was pissed that they ran out of fruit loops at the free breakfast and gave them 1 star. And learn to spot a schill positive review as well.

2) Try to stay on the top floor. There will be a family of elephants above you if you don't.

3) Can you sleep with earplugs? I sleep with earplugs in a hotel room about 50% of the time nowadays. Between 2am drunks, the highschool group running from room to room, and the constant slamming of doors at all hours... If you can't sleep with earplugs, (it takes a while to get used to it) a white noise app on your smartphone is better than nothing.

(And as a related courtesy... when you close the door behind you, please try to prevent it from slamming. All hotel room doors slam by design. The rest of the hallway will thank you for it.)

4) Free breakfast can save a family a lot of money. It can also be a worse experience than black friday at Walmart.

5) The mold issue was addressed above. Open up the air unit and look at the filters. If you smell mold, chances are there's mold.

6) If you have a favorite pillow and can bring it, do so. You never know what hotel pillows will be like, and some of them just plain suck. I know this isn't practical a lot of times, but on trips where I have to get up early and need a good nights sleep, I make room in my luggage.

7) For goodness sake, learn to pack light! Yes, you can live without it for a week! (with the exception of the pillow, of course.) $10.00 to do laundry at the hotel is better than carrying an extra bag of clothes around, especially with the bag fees airlines charge.

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Monday, December 2, 2013 1:23 PM

I think the rules are different when it comes to WDW. Agreed that "value" is not crappy. I'm a hotel snob as well, and I've stayed at Pop Century many times. The difference in cost, especially if you need a car, is negligible and not worth it.

There are other variables, too. For example, if you want to stay close to Epcot, you can't stay off property, but stay at Beach Club and you're a thousand feet away. At that point, where you sleep is just one of several considerations.

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Monday, December 2, 2013 1:56 PM

We are definitely *NOT* in the "just to sleep at" camp. I'm with Gonch, in that I want it to be as comfortable and functional as my home. So much so, that I almost never stay in a "hotel" on vacation, and instead am much more likely to be staying in a condo, apartment, or home. I also want my place to be as convenient as possible to what I'm doing, because I go back and forth a lot. But, I have also found ways to make that affordable, so we've been able to take some pretty wonderful vacations without spending a ton on lodging.

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Monday, December 2, 2013 4:35 PM

We actually fall on the two semi-extremes oddly. We're cool with doing campsites for $15/night for 8 people (we did 9 people, 5 of which were kids in a tent site this summer) and cooking our own food over a propane stove or grill. This is especially when we're road tripping and won't be staying in any 1 place for more than a night or 2 at most. If I'm going to be living out of a suitcase and only spending 8 hours at my place for the night, I might as well be doing it on the cheap. On the flip side, if we're going to be staying 3 or 4 nights, especially now that we have kids, there's no way I'm going for cheapo-motel. If I'm going to take the time to unpack and set up the crib, the kids' beds and toys and all that stuff and I'm going to actually spend a reasonable amount of waking time in the room, I want it to feel cozy. Super bonus if there's a separate room-ish thing (suite) that my wife and I can watch TV in after the kids go to bed.

We are long past the days of Super 8, both because of bad experiences and because they really don't meet our needs on either end of the specturm. I actually prefer sleeping in a tent (as long as it's not leaking rain) and it's cheaper to do so (not to mention the steady increase in disposable income we experienced as young adults).

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Monday, December 2, 2013 10:26 PM
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Monday, December 2, 2013 4:49 PM

It depends.

When my pal Mark and I drove to and from ACE's CoasterCon in New England, from Chicago, we hit Red Roof Inns near Toledo (going there) and near Buffalo (coming back). We were literally checking in, going to sleep, waking up and hitting the road.

In between, though, a comfortable room was very important. As Gonch noted, those hotels were our homes away from home.

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Monday, December 2, 2013 5:33 PM

I will seek out places with free breakfast, I need breakfast in the morning to function, and not having to go somewhere else to get it is a huge time saver for me. Thats why I mainly stick to the Hilton brands (Hampton, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites, Embassy Suites) where I have Gold Status which means I get free breakfast at any of those hotels. The two exceptions to that rule are Disney and Universal Parks because of location and benefits (EMH/Universal Express.)

No matter what any hotel I stay in has to be clean (no Super 8/Best Western/Red Roof for me, way too many horror stories Ive heard from those brands,) have comfortable beds, and relatively new furniture. Also as always location, location, location Ill pay more (to a certain extent) to be closer, but if we are talking 2-3x more the cost (like Sandusky in the summer) I will drive an hour to save some money, and mainly due to the principal of the thing. If/when Sandusky gets something more high scale that is not a indoor waterpark (like a Hilton Garden Inn, Embassy Suites) I will be much more willing to plop down $120-130 a night to stay there.

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Monday, December 2, 2013 6:13 PM

I'm generally in the same boat as Touchdown, although I'm only Silver with Hilton (and Platinum with Hyatt, which is their equivalent). The consistent exception is Orlando, as Disney is pretty much guaranteed my money there. I have to say that overall, I've found the best bang-for-my-buck brand to be Hyatt Place as the breakfast is free and the rooms are incredible. I'm probably a bit of a hotel snob, but I just feel a bit unpleasant when I stay in real dumpy locations.

Now, I don't universally stay in hotels belonging to those brands, but I don't ever have issues with quality at either Hilton or Hyatt hotels of any sort, so I generally check them first. Honestly, I've found that on a bang-for-my-buck basis, they tend to be even better than some of the cheaper brands out there given the high quality and consistently good experiences.

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Monday, December 2, 2013 6:58 PM

I think rooms are important. I use Hotwire and never go below a 4 star.

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Monday, December 2, 2013 7:24 PM

When we went to Disney last year we chose a nice resort with nice rooms. We didn't do park every day and had resort days. It was nice and relaxing to have time away from the parks with out leaving the resort.

However, on a short over night stay a decent hotel room will do. Like Knobels, last year. We stayed at Red Roof in which was as basic as you could get for $49. We were there from 10pm to 8am. It was clean and $40 cheaper then some other hotels in the area.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013 12:09 AM

I usually get a comfortable room at a reasonable rate by researching online and finding the highest rated hotels in the area I want to stay. Maybe I am lucky, but when I do it this way, I rarely have any trouble. I also probably a little less picky than most. It has to be clean, and have Wi-fi. I prefer a hot tub and pool. Free breakfast is not a deal breaker, but I like it.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013 1:38 AM

The hotel you choose is your home base for the time you are there. It is not home. However, it is the place you go to allow yourself to become unconscious for 8 or more hours. You also will likely have sex there with your spouse or significant other. Therefore, the most important thing for a hotel room is that it is comfortable, sanitary, and private. As long as these things are assured, you may determine your choice based on pricing.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013 1:40 AM

LostKause said:

Free breakfast is not a deal breaker, but I like it.

Free breakfast (like serious breakfast: eggs pancakes waffles bacon toast omelettes bagels whatever) is a huge plus for me. I like my buffets.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013 2:29 AM

The 'free' breakfast at hotels works just like the 'free' drinks at parks like HW.

Just sayin' :)

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013 2:59 AM

I really have no dog in this race. I typically trend towards the cheap to mid range hotels as they're almost always "just a place to sleep" for me, but I make occasional exceptions if there's something particular I need or want. Most of the time the extra cash is more important to me than nice fixtures or whatever.

However, I will say that when it comes to "gross-out, haunt your memories forever" type of stains that are sometimes found in hotel rooms, every single time I've happened upon them has been at the more upscale places. Probably just a weird coincidence, but it's enough to make me believe that the upscale places really don't put that much more effort into cleaning than the cheap places do.

Of course, you could just stay here and have the best of both worlds.

Last edited by CP Chris, Tuesday, December 3, 2013 3:08 AM
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