Staying at a good hotel when you travel really can make a big difference to your travel experience. I have stayed at countless hotels and Airbnbs over the years, ranging from the most basic places costing less than $10 per night to rooms going for well over $1000 per night. And the more time I spend traveling (or maybe just the older I get?), the pickier I get about the hotels I choose to book. did an interesting study about what really matters to travelers when it comes to finding that perfect hotel room. And the results might surprise you! It’s not the fast wi-fi or a delicious breakfast that matters most. Instead travelers care much more about cleanliness and friendliness.

So before you book your next trip, check out these five things travelers say make for a perfect hotel stay and a perfect hotel room.

5 Things to look for when booking a hotel room: what matters most to travelers

1. Cleanliness

What to look for when booking a hotel room - cleanliness

Gorgeous, clean and well maintained hotel rooms at W Maldives

Travelers find a clean hotel and a clean hotel room the most important thing by far. And could you disagree? Mold in the shower, urine stains on the toilet seat or a dead cockroach under the bed… I have seen it all and it definitely ruined my stay at those hotels! Nothing feels better than coming home to a beautiful, comfortable hotel room after a day out exploring.

2. Friendly hotel staff

what to look for when booking a hotel room: friendly staff

This was a surprise to me. Even though I really appreciate friendly and helpful staff in a hotel (or friendly home owners at an Airbnb), I didn’t expect this to rank number two. More so than any facilities the hotel offers, travelers care about how friendly the staff is.

“The fact that staff friendliness plays such an important role in guest satisfaction shows that, as intrinsically social creatures, we love to be greeted with a smile and a chat. It makes us feel welcome and part of the group.” says consumer psychologist Simon Moore, who led the study.

3. A comfortable bed

What to look for when booking a hotel room - a comfortable bed

Such a comfortable bed at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport hotel

Now this is actually one of the things I look forward to most when I check-in to my hotel room: testing out the bed. Nothing beats a large, comfortable bed that just makes you want to stay in your hotel room all day.

We’ve all stayed in places where the bed has been substandard and it’s amazing how a bad night’s sleep can make the next day a real struggle. And it’s not just the bed. The pillows and blankets can make a huge difference as well. I once stayed at a resort with a “pillow menu”: a list of pillows to choose from to make sure you get to sleep on your perfect pillow…

4. A good location

what to look for when booking a hotel room: a good location

Marina Bay Sands, a hotel with a perfect location in Singapore

Although maybe once or twice I have stayed at a hotel just because the hotel was an incredible experience, normally you book a hotel room because you want to (or have to) visit a certain place. Location being in the top 5 of things to look for when booking a hotel room therefore is obvious. But, don’t underestimate how difficult it can be to find out if a hotel’s location actually works for you. I have stayed at hotels that I thought were close to where I wanted to be but then turned out to be either farther away than I thought, next to public transportation that just didn’t run when I needed it to run or close to where I wanted to be but in an unsafe part of town… Read plenty of reviews from other travelers to prevent these mistakes. And, be careful when booking a hotel that has hardly any reviews (yet).

5. Good value for money

what to look for when booking a hotel room: value for money

One of the best hotels in Port de Soller, Mallorca

Of course, nobody likes to pay too much for their hotel room (or for anything really). So the fact that good value for money is an important factor when rating a hotel stay makes complete sense to me. I don’t mind splurging on a hotel room but it better be a great experience then!

Expensive hotels aren’t always better than budget hotels and a cheap hotel room isn’t always a bad hotel room. So check what others have to say about the hotel room you are about to book. They will most likely mention if it was worth the money or not.

Do your research before booking your next hotel room

So, next time you are going through hotel reviews to decide which hotel to book, pay some extra attention to these five features!

And of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also check if your hotel offers free wi-fi (I don’t understand why there are still hotels that don’t), a complimentary breakfast, quiet rooms with a great view and maybe even a gorgeous swimming pool. But just remember that for the average traveler these five most important things to look for when booking a hotel room really do make a difference.