There are various opinions on what level of importance a hotel has when you are traveling. For some, it is just a place to park your luggage, take a shower and get some sleep. For the rest of us, a hotel is way more than that. I am a succer for great design, but the most important things for me, when choosing a hotel, is atmosphere and service. It doesn´t have to be a five star luxury hotel, but unfortunately, you usually get what you pay for. Still, finding the less expensive places with the best ambience and service is a number one priority.
Whether I am traveling with my man, friends or family, I still like to use the hotel as a base to relax and chill. A home away from home, if you like. If the weather permits it, I want to be able to swim in a pool (unless the hotel is at the beach), I´d like to have access to great wine. A good restaurant is not necessary if you are close to many others, but if not, a great restaurant is a must. Also, location is key. If I am on a big-city trip to eat and shop, I want the hotel to be central. If I am on a beach-break, I don´t want to spend too much time driving or walking to and from the beach.
But, it is also important to consider where the hotel is when determining what type of standard you want. If you are on the countryside in Italy, modern and minimalistic design is close to absent, while in Thailand; you can get a lot of design for your money. Like with anything else, when you are traveling, reflect on where you are and respect their traditions, ways of living and sense of style. That is when you get the Grade A experiences and find the finest hotels.