Here are the most underrated and overrated hotels and accomodations for the year.
Particularly for families, apartment rentals make an ideal alternative to hotels, with more space to utilise, including separate bedrooms and kitchen and laundry facilities.
ASIAN BREAKFAST OPTIONS
Hotel breakfast buffets can be awful (you know the drill, hours-old scrambled eggs, stale pastries, instant coffee) but as long as they offer a few options to cater to the Asian tourist market – dumplings, congee, or even noodle soup –you're all set. Proceed directly to the section with the delicious, exotic aromas.
REASONABLY PRICED LAUNDRY SERVICE
Wash one shirt for $10? A pair of socks for $5? Outrageous. Hotels that don't gouge their clientele on laundry services deserve plenty of praise.
Australia's home-grown holiday parks operator offers accommodation at its most democratic and inclusive, mixing up camp sites, cabins and glamping at quintessential destinations like the Barossa Valley, Cradle Mountain and Rottnest Island. See discoveryholidayparks.com.au
Limited breakfasts, mediocre wines, limp canapes, rigidly deferential staff, gloomy computer corners, guests who shout into their mobile phones... Not worth the extra cost.
A good hotel concierge can be invaluable to a traveller, helping with restaurant reservations and theatre bookings and recommending places to dine, see and experience. Yet this isn't the experience for most ordinary travellers in mid-range hotels, where suited lobby-lurkers do little more than dole out maps and point you to the nearest tourist trap. Rarely do they deliver any local insight.
DARK, MOODY BATHROOMS
Incredibly fashionable but bloody infuriating when you try to put on make-up (and emerge looking like a clown) and downright dangerous when you shave.
The hotel minibar is a place of last resort – the only option for sustenance when you can't be bothered to leave the room. As such, we'd like familiar, reliable comfort food – Pringles, M&M's and a can of Heineken, please. What we don't want are paprika-dusted kale chips, goat milk chocolate (it exists) and a rhubarb infused IPA.
Does anyone spend the first night in a hotel sampling the 12 options on a pillow menu? Of course not. Most hotel pillows are fine. If you need something special, bring your own.
Floating above a tranquil lagoon of sapphire blue ocean, overwater bungalows practically scream tropical paradise. Wake up, throw on your bathing suit and dive into the bath-warm water. Take another dip after lunch. Hell, no one's looking – why not have a sneaky skinny dip at midnight? Unfortunately, the reality is often much less glamorous. Compared to a normal villa, overwater bungalows are smaller, more expensive and surprisingly noisy. The soothing sound of the water lapping against your terrace can quickly turn into a relentless, sleep-depriving din when the wind picks up.
The first time you're greeted by a towel elephant at the foot of your bed, it's cute. The second time, it's "meh". After that, it's kind of annoying.
Who in their right mind would want a toilet with a glass door, or even no door at all? And yet some hotels do. There's method to their madness, of course, as they try to make small rooms feel larger, or engender a sense of daring intimacy between couples, with bathtubs set beside glass walls. We'd like a toilet with a real door and real walls, thanks.
GREETINGS ON IN-ROOM TVs
Hell hath no fury like a jet-lagged traveller who can't turn the television's inane greeting off. Expect further room rage if the guest's name is spelled incorrectly.
Even in the most expensive hotels, the omelettes churned out by bored chefs at their little stations are almost uniformly terrible. Just do away with them.
CONTRIBUTORS: Ben Groundwater, Brian Johnston, Catherine Marshall, Rob McFarland, Kerry van der Jagt, Sue Williams