Choose a Hotel Room with a Great View on Your Next Trip

What Not to Overlook When You Book

Susan Breslow Sardone.

One of the best things about staying in a hotel or resort on vacation can be inhabiting a room with a great view. Choosing one such unit can make all the difference between staying in a serviceable room and one with the "wow" factor that nearly takes your breath away the first time you open the door. 

It's balm for the spirit to get up in the morning, throw open the curtains, and take in a view of the ocean with no obstructions between your line of sight and the blue horizon. 

Similarly, the view from city hotels from New York to Tokyo — especially when your room is on a high floor — can mesmerize and make you feel as if you're on top of the world when you observe the sweep of a new city beneath your window.

Alas, not all room views are created equally. Having been the recipient of dumpster views, a bank-of-air-conditioners view, even a moss-covered-crypt view, I bring to your attention some of the options hoteliers do advertise below.

It should come as no surprise that the better the view from your room, the more it will cost. Yet if you're traveling on your honeymoon or a romantic getaway, this is no time to scrimp.

What's on View

These are among the most common room-view descriptions that you are likely to encounter. Note that they are presented in order of desirability, so choose from top to bottom:

  • Ocean front - An ocean front room connotes not just an unobstructed view of the ocean but also indicates a room that has direct access to the beach. One of the nicest ocean front properties we've been to is the Fairmont Royal Pavilion resort in Barbados. Its beachfront junior suites with big terraces are the most desirable units. 
  • Ocean view - An ocean view room has a water view, but a walk may be required to reach the beach. Tower hotels often provide a beach view. One of the best ocean view suites we experienced was at Sandals Grenada. Our balcony overlooked the water... but it also held a private plunge pool. Needless to say, we rarely ventured to the beach.
  • City view - A city view room means a skyline view. Ironically, in many cities the hotels in districts that face the city afford better views than hotels within them. City view rooms that incorporate sight of a park or body of water are also preferred.
  • Garden view - A step down from an ocean view, a garden view normally overlooks a landscaped area. The advantage of this at a beach resort is that rooms overlooking the garden are often quieter than those overlooking the pool and the beach.
  • Pool view - The least desirable view — especially on a lower floor — a pool view can mean a noisy room, especially at a resort that permits children.
  • Atrium view - Hotel towers built around a central atrium may have windows looking into the core. Alternately, you may only be able to see the atrium and the rooms across from yours via the walkway outside your room. Some travelers enjoy the view from on high at hotels such as the Hyatt Regency San Francisco or Luxor Las Vegas; others find them dizzying. 

Now See Here

The next time you reserve a hotel room, don't just ask "What's the rate?" — ask "What's the view?" too. It's perfectly reasonable to ask if you can inspect the view before agreeing to occupy a room. Note that rooms with the best views are often located in a corner of a hotel or resort, so the walk from the elevator may be long.

Tip: Assess the view as soon as you check in to the hotel and enter your room. If it's not what you paid for, or you see cranes or other evidence of construction, or you simply find the view unappealing, ask to switch to another room. If I had done that in the room-with-the-crypt view, I wouldn't have stayed up all night, biting my nails....

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