World Scenery

Poolside or sea view? New Thomas Cook tool lets guests choose their perfect hotel room

Should families be able to choose their rooms when they book at hotels? Of course, you typically select the price level you want, but is there a hotel equivalent of window or aisle?

Thomas Cook, the high street British operator, has announced a new feature which will allow holidaymakers to select specific rooms when they book, the first such feature in a major UK firm.

The tour operator, which sends six million Britons on holiday each year, said that the room selector option, like booking a seat on an aeroplane or in a theatre, will allow families to customise their experience.

This might include minimising distance to the pool, drifting off to sleep with the soothing sound of the sea – not the on-site disco – in the background, or orienting your stay close to a favoured restaurant.

At a time when so many things – food delivery, babysitters, films – are available on demand, and hotels express a desire to customise guests’ experiences, it may seem surprising that so few hotels offer the chance to pre-select a room.

Some boutique hotels already allow guests to choose which suite they want, and larger hotels will usually accommodate guests’ wishes – and for free – when they check in, if possible.

But plane seats aren’t the same as hotel rooms – for starters, they’re not vacated at the same rate. And hotels may have reasons (cleaning, for example) for wanting guests to stay in particular parts of a property.

The select-a-room feature (see for more information) is currently available at 50 hotels, and will be an option at 300 hotels by next summer.

Though, as with low-budget airlines, there’s a cost: customers will have to pay €30 to book their specific room, from those available in their room category, six days before departing for holiday.

Still, when travelling with children on an annual holiday, the security of knowing that you’ll have the room you want may be appealilng to parents.

“As a mother of two young children, I know that most families want to be close to the action with a hotel room that’s poolside,” said Amanda Lamb, the property location expert and television presenter.

“Having little ones in tow usually means multiple trips to the room to fetch those forgotten nappies or armbands.

“On the other hand, couples without kids may want a bit more peace and quiet, so prefer to be at the top of the hotel.

“Having a room that suits your needs makes things easier and more relaxed, so being able to choose before you arrive gives you greater control.”

And which room would a property-savvy presenter choose?

Follow Amanda Lamb’s advice, below.

For couples:

  • Instagram obsessed? Take the view into account when choosing your room and use the compass on the floor plan so you know where the sun sets – that way you won’t even need to #filter.
  • Go for the top floor so you won’t be disturbed with the patter of tiny feet.

For young families:

  • Choose a room that is close to the pool or kids’ activities, but not too close to the bar or evening entertainment.
  • If travelling with relatives or another family, make sure you book rooms near each other. That way, the kids can play while the adults enjoy wine together.

For families with teenagers:

  • You’re probably fairly certain which room you want, but have you asked your teenagers what they want? Choose together to ensure everyone is happy.
  • Your young adults are going to want some independence and you’re probably going to want a break too. Keep everyone happy by choosing a room near to the action. They can spend time on Snapchat while you’re safe in the knowledge that they’re not too far away.

For older couples:

  • Are you going away with the whole family – kids and grandkids? Come the evenings, you probably want a bit of quiet time. Make sure you speak to the rest of your group and choose room locations that are going to keep the whole party harmonious.
  • Are you an early riser? Make sure you take a look at the compass on the floor plan and choose a room where the sun will peek through the curtains every morning.