Negotiating the world of hotel ratings is complicated—so who better to turn to for clarity than the leader of one of the most recognized guidebooks for travelers, Fodor’s? Editor in Chief Arabella Bowen shared the publisher’s checklist for analyzing hotel properties with the Beyond Borders Summit audience. Now we’re sharing that insider’s look with you:

Lobby/Check-In
•Are you greeted upon entering the hotel? Do you have to wait to be noticed or are you immediately cosseted and made to feel like you are in a special place?
•Are there fresh flowers?
•Is there a long wait to check in?

Elevators
•Do the elevators take a long time?           
•Are they all working?
•Are they roomy enough to fit several people and their baggage?

Hallways
•Are the hallways nondescript or do they have a sense of design?
•Do you hear doors slamming?
•Can you hear people through the walls?
•Is it easy to find your room?

Restaurants/Bars
•Are there a variety of spaces for people to hang out in the hotel and do they offer a range of experiences?
•Does the hotel bar feel like an airport bar or does it have its own character? Is it a fun place for people to meet, including local people who aren’t staying in the hotel?

Public Spaces
•Are the hotel’s gathering places just big open spaces, or do they include more private areas for people to make phone calls or check e-mails?
•Are there more intimate spaces for private conversations?
•Are there enough outlets for people to charge phones and laptops?

Pool
•Is the swimming pool in a visible, public area, or more private?
•Is it landscaped?
•Are the towels plush?

Guest Rooms*
•Is the room spacious?
•Does it have a view?
•Will it be quiet at night, especially if the hotel has a pool bar?
•Are the windows triple-glazed so it’s quiet?
•Is there a proper duvet on the bed? Is it comfortable or scratchy? Is there a top sheet?
•What is the thread count of the sheets (200 to 300—the higher, the better)?
•Are pillows plentiful?
•Is there a bathrobe? Slippers?
•Are there plenty of outlets? Are they in a smart location?
•Is the room clean?
•Will you be able to offer all the people in your group the same room quality and experience?
*Fodor’s reviewers look at three types of rooms: the lowest-priced room, another room that’s one step up, and a suite.

Bathrooms
•Is there enough space for your things?
•Are the toiletries created especially for the hotel, or do they carry a recognizable name?
•Is there a shower or bathtub?
•Is the hardware stylish?
•Is the room just filling your basic needs or is it somewhere you want to hang out?

Amenities
•Is there room service?
•Laundry?
•Housekeeping?

Location
•Is the hotel easy to get to from the airport?
•Is there a major attraction within walking distance?
•Is there shopping nearby?
•What can attendees do if they step outside during a 20-minute break? (Bowen suggests creating a guide to the area with the host’s favorite things to do.)

Service
•Is it efficient and unobtrusive?
•Do they know what you want and give it to you without you having to ask for it or wait for it?
•Are people throughout the hotel friendly and polite?