One of the beautiful things about traveling in Latin America is that travel expenses like accommodation can be very, very affordable. However, budget hotels can also be fraught with hidden disappointments from toilets that don’t flush to grungy, ill-fitting sheets to missing shower heads. Hotel bargains are certainly out there, but no matter where you’re traveling, it pays to run through this handy check in checklist to make sure you choose the best budget hotels before you settle in.
Our 17 point budget hotel checklist
Besides basic cleanliness and security issues, we mentally run through this checklist before we check in.
- Is there a seat on the toilet and does the toilet flush? If you’re a dude, or you’re traveling with a dude, also ensure that the toilet seats will stay up on its own and doesn’t just flop down.
- Do the faucets work?
- Is the bathroom light bright enough to shave by?
- Is there a shower head or just a bare pipe?
- Is the mattress really just an amateurishly-disguised torture device? Go ahead. Sit on it.
- Exactly how lumpy and stained are the pillows? Go ahead. Take off the pillow cases to see for yourself.
- Are the sheets clean and at least partly cotton? Ever since we moved into a room that turned out to have curly black hairs in the bed we are not above throwing back the covers to get a better look at the bedding.
- Does the fitted sheet or base sheet actually stay on or are you going to wake up with your body directly against that mystery mattress?
- If there’s a mosquito net, check it for holes. Are they patchable? PACKING TIP: We always travel with plenty of white thread and a sewing needle. Why white? Because most nets are white and if you darn them with colored thread each colored repair will look like an insect against the white net.
- Are the light bulbs bright enough to read by or just a tease?
- Does the fan work and is it quiet enough to sleep when it’s on? If the hotel runs on generator power, be sure to confirm that the generator runs all night or you’ll lose the fan just when you need it most.
- Are the ceiling fan blades above the light source? If the blades are below the light you’ll get a crazy-making mild-strobe effect when you turn them both on at the same time.
- Do the curtains close well enough to provide privacy? Do they blow open when the fan is on? PACKING TIP: We travel with a metal clamp like the sort used to keep papers together in an office and this works like a charm to secure unruly or ill-fitting curtains.
- Do the windows have screens on them and are they (relatively) free of holes?
- Is the TV (if there is one) in a position where it’s actually viewable from bed? We’ve been in a disturbing number of budget rooms in which the TV is placed in a corner behind any form of seating.
- Are there any electrical outlets and are they in locations that are actually accessible?
- Does the Wi-Fi signal (if there is one) reach the room? The pat answer you’ll get to this question is always “yes” so we find it’s also helpful to locate the actual router to make sure your room is within range.
Check out our tried and tested list of 10 Great Budget Hotels in Central America to make your travel budget go further.
A version of this story was originally published on the Travel+Escape website
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Thanks! An comprehensive list indeed!
Another factor I like to consider is how approachable/friendly are the people running the place, particularly considering that something or the other is bound to not work at budget hotels so it’s always handy to have helpful people around who could offer a quick fix. :)