Alex Polizzi’s guide to booking a hotel (and what to do if it disappoints)

The Hotel Inspector shares her golden rules for guests


Tonight Alex Polizzi hits the road again in The Hotel Inspector (Channel 5, 9pm).


When she goes on holiday, you’d expect hoteliers to roll out the red carpet, but even she’s not immune to disappointments.

“I went to this island in the Caribbean and the hotel pool was being refurbished. They had not said that on my confirmation so I was absolutely livid. My kids were quite little and definitely weren’t sea-swimmers at the time. I thought they’d really pulled a sneaky one.”

Nor was she impressed when she stayed in a place with polyester bedsheets. “Every time I moved my legs in the night there would be a little blue flame!”

She insists she’s not a demanding guest, though. “I’m not interested in having a pillow or linen menu: do you want cotton or silk or flannel? I’m not that interested in any of that marlarky. If I’m paying a certain amount, I expect decent bed linen. And if I’m not, I’ll get slightly less nice linen.”

“I do care about the service side of things – like getting a turndown when I want to. If I’ve asked for the turndown to happen at six o’clock because my children go to bed at seven, and nobody knocks on my door until eight and so they wake the children up, I get very cross.”

Whether your budget is three or five-star, Polizzi has a few golden rules for guests…

1. Decide what’s important to you

When you’re choosing a hotel, you’ve got to be clear about what’s important to you. Does a two-metre bed matter to you? If it does, make sure you ask whether you’re getting a two-metre bed. If you hate showers and want a bath, make sure you ask for a room with one and don’t book it if you can’t. Normally if I’m travelling for pleasure, I’m travelling with my children, so I don’t want to be somewhere where kids aren’t allowed in the dining room for dinner. 

2. You get what you pay for

I’m quite demanding of good service, but I’m very cognisant of the fact that you tend to get what you pay for. So I’m not expecting to get the same service in a Premier Inn as I am in a five-star luxury resort. 

3. Read the TripAdvisor reviews… with a pinch of salt

I do use internet review sites to give me a flavour of the place, but I don’t trust them. Discount the very worst reviews and very best reviews because the hotel is probably somewhere in the middle. If every single review was about how disappointing it was, I probably would believe it, but most times it’s a mixed bag.

4. Check who else is staying

I would always find out if there’s a function of any kind happening, especially if it’s a weekend in the summer – you don’t want a massive wedding with dancing going until midnight happening underneath your room.

5. Keep calm when you complain

I always make my case very calmly and I think less is more – silence is quite useful. Ask to speak to the manager on duty and simply say: “I booked this, you didn’t tell me that – what are you going to do about it?” Getting cross is not particularly helpful because it puts everybody’s back up and they just want you to go away.

6. Be persistent

If you don’t get the answer you want from the duty manager, ask to speak to the general manager. Unless your complaint is specious, they’re going to want to sort it out or you’ll post a bad review.

The Hotel Inspector is on Channel 5 on Tuesdays at 9pm

Radio Times Travel short breaks

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