The Worst Mistakes You Can Make When Booking a Hotel in 2024

Mistakes People Make When Booking Hotels

Oh man, have I screwed up some hotel bookings in my time. Like, screaming-into-a-pillow embarrassing blunders! I’ve overpaid by hundreds, endured nightmarish room surprises, skipped important policies, burned thousands on unchangeable deposits, booked the opposite of stunning views…the painfully cringeworthy list goes on.

How, you ask, could anyone with half a brain mess up something as easy as where you lay your head at night? Well over my many (mis)adventures as a frequent jet-setting husband, dad and now cool uncle type, I’ve made just about every face-palming booking mistake imaginable. Multiple times over in some cases.

But with great humiliation comes hard-won wisdom my friends. After too many years and too many dollars lost to bonehead hotel moves, I’m now a blackbelt in booking travel stays like a total pro.

My transformation from sometimes lucky but often foolish flounderer to vacation accommodation master inspired me to outline the biggest trip-ruining goofs any would-be traveler could make. Top things to avoid when securing hotels based on my trials and massive errors!

Hopefully, my cautionary tales of woe will keep your future bookings blissfree. Learn from my endless blunders so your hard earned vacations don’t also turn into total disasters. Here are my top 10 all-time face-palms when it comes to the biggest mistakes us overeager but still foolish travelers make again and again…

The Worst Mistakes You Can Make When Booking a Hotel in 2024 1


One time when planning a trip to Hawaii, I got so caught up in finding the perfect room with an ocean view that I completely neglected to comparison shop.

$500 a night seemed reasonable at the moment – but then I discovered the same room for $350 just down the beach!

What a rookie mistake. From now on, I always compare rates across multiple sites like Expedia, and the hotel’s direct site before locking anything in. The last thing you want is to overpay by hundreds of dollars for an identical room.

Not Reading Reviews

Reviews are everything these days. But early in my traveling adventures, I didn’t understand their importance. I once booked a 4-star hotel in Paris that had amazing photos but barely any recent reviews. When my wife and I showed up, we realized why – the place was stuck in the 1970s! Shag carpet, hideous wallpaper, suspicious stains.

And don’t even get me started on the temperamental plumbing. Shivers. Now I never book anywhere without vetting recent reviews on Google, TripAdvisor and beyond. A few horror stories would have saved us from that nasty surprise.

Not Confirming Details

This slip-up caused me so much unnecessary stress. I was planning a big milestone anniversary trip for my wife and booked what I thought was a gorgeous suite with a view of the Eiffel Tower. But when checking in, that “view of the Eiffel Tower” ended up being a tiny sliver visible between other buildings if you craned your neck!

Turns out I hadn’t called ahead to confirm the exact details of the room. Big mistake that could have ruined the entire surprise. Thankfully, the hotel was able to change us to a better room at the last minute.

But don’t be like me – always call and confirm beds, views, sizes etc no matter what the website describes.

Assuming Photos are Accurate

Far too often, hotels’ photos are strategically framed to make rooms look as spacious and luxurious as possible. It’s like the real estate equivalent of dating app photo tricks! I once booked a place where the bedroom looked massive with floor to ceiling windows. In reality, it was the size of a shoebox with a tiny basement level window.

All because I didn’t read between the (photo editing) lines.

Now, I scrutinize images much more closely, looking for telltale signs of wide-angle lenses and clever cropping. And I always try to find candid traveler photos that show a more accurate perspective. Don’t let yourself get visualized by deceptive hotel pics.

Not Considering Location

Location mistakes have led to some of my biggest booking blunders. Like when my wife and I chose our honeymoon resort based primarily on amenities and style without considering what surrounded it. Turns out it was right next to a pumping gas station that literally tremored our walls half the night.

Or another time when I prioritized price first while traveling solo in Australia. Ended up in the middle of nowhere miles from any public transportation or must-sees. Total isolation nightmare!

So now, I carefully vet area safety, convenience, attractions, and need-to-haves no matter what. Occasional sirens or a few extra subway stops are worth avoiding vacation-ruining locations.

Ignoring Extra Fees

I hate sneaky resort fees, mandatory valet charges and WiFi surcharges as much as anyone. But my anger blinded me from accounting for them too many times over the years. Like when I booked a Vegas hotel for a guys trip that touted rock bottom rates. Ended up tacking on almost double per night after all the “fees”.

Should have read the fine print! Ditto on a Miami vacation when I got slammed with multiple daily pool access and beach chair charges I wasn’t expecting. It is better to click “more fees” and talk to reps to expose the true nightly cost first. Beware blinding yourself to extra charges – they add up lightning fast.

Overlooking Cancellation Policy

“Life comes at you fast” took on new meaning after I botched this. For my parents’ 35th anniversary, I spared no expense booking a lavish and pricey couples retreat many months in advance. Two weeks before the trip, my dad had a bad fall and broke his leg. Obviously no exercise activities for him.

Cancelling seemed sensible with mom wanting to care for him at home. Except I’d gloss over the ultra strict, unchangeable cancellation policy. We were on the hook for every outrageous penny no matter what. Still makes me cringe!

Now I highlight and triple confirm cancellation leniency no matter how unlikely rescheduling seems at booking time. You just never know.

Booking the Wrong Room

My most face-palm inducing mess up happened when surprising my wife with a San Diego weekend getaway at a trendy new boutique hotel. I was so dazzled by the beautiful rooftop infinity pool during research that I booked their cheapest room option without realizing it was a tiny interior room facing the dumpsters out back. The online photos conveniently only showed the amazing common areas.

She tried pretending she was thrilled after the 12 hour drive when we arrived to our dark, dingy corner tuckaway. But her disappointment said it all. We ended up hardly spending any time there. Double check every aspect of the actual room before booking, don’t just drool over the property highlights online like me.

Skipping Travel Insurance

Early on in my redeem myself husband quest post booking blunders, I tried surprising my wife with a Costa Rica zip-lining adventure. Seemed like an easy, breezy trip that didn’t require travel insurance. Wrong! The day before our flights, She fractured her ankle during a run. Trip cancelled with all payments lost. That was $2500 we’ll never get back – about the cost of good travel insurance.

Now, we ALWAYS purchase full coverage no matter the destination or likelihood of incident. Weather delays, injuries, work conflicts – you name it – seem to sneak up at the worst possible moments. Don’t get burned like me – protect your investment no matter what.

Blindly Assuming Fast Wi-Fi

As a business traveler trying to stay connected and available 24/7, having constant, lightning fast internet is non-negotiable whenever I travel. But somehow I still made some wildly naive assumptions that got me into trouble multiple times.

Like hastily booking a dreamy Italian villa for one of our all-important investor trips without confirming connectivity capabilities first. The photos evoked such charm and inspiration – I figured their WiFi capacity would match, no confirmation necessary.

Except it barely worked at all. And what dripped through moved at dial-up era speeds. Cue entire vital work presentations unable to load and video conference calls full of frozen screens. The whole “working vacation” turned into a connectivity nightmare real fast.

Wish I had asked ahead to confirm strong speeds before ever committing. From that day onwards,  stable internet is the FIRST detail I vet when considering properties abroad. Don’t be the reason your whole team suddenly goes offline.

In Summary

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Hopefully sharing my biggest hotel booking blunders over the years gives you a good laugh while helping you avoid making them yourself.

Triple-check policies, read the reviews, confirm every detail, compare prices across the board, consider locations carefully, account for all fees, and don’t get too dazzled by marketing buzzwords or slick photography without deeper digging.

Protect your dream vacation and your wallet by learning from my over-eager mistakes above. With the right prep work, your hotel booking should be smooth sailing.

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