Monday, August 09, 2010

Comparing Hotels Before You Book: I Need a Cup of Damn Coffee Before 7 a.m., Dammit!

I'm currently on a business trip in a hotel in downtown Houston that's certainly comfortable enough, an old urban hotel whose rooms have had a very nice modern upgrade.

I booked it because there's a convention in town, but the big hotels closest to the convention center -- you know, the ones with a pulse of life in them? -- were full.

Still, I wish I'd known that this hotel was located in the forlorn-at-night, evidently reluctant-to-greet-the-workday so-called theater district. I wish I had known that its restaurant was pricey, depressingly empty at night, and evidently disinclined to open before noon, and, as I write this at 6.51 a.m. Houston time, having been up for over an hour, that its room service doesn't open till 7 a.m.

(I mean, really -- people these days are up and about early, and I need a pot of coffee, and there is nothing in this post-apocalyptic, empty, hellish part of town but massive dark buildings that don't even have any lights on, dammit!)

So, to settle down now, a little coffee would be nice. And maybe some protein of some sort. And, oh, throw in the morning Times. Is that too much to ask? Before 7 a.m. -- or 7-damn-30 a.m., when they finally might get the coffee to my room?

Wish I'd known before I booked that the hotel was cemented into a world of empty.

Anyway, more and more of us know how valuable it is to cross-check hotels and have some idea of exactly where they might be before we decide to book them, and today has announced what looks to me to be a very useful set of features:

The new Orbitz features include:

--Side-by-side comparison of hotel details

--Expandable, interactive maps showing both hotel location and real-time room rate pricing

--Google Street View showing the hotel and its surrounding neighborhood

--Filters and sort options based on price, star-rating, review score and amenities

--Unfiltered reviews from verified customers, photos, videos and virtual tours


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