The first thing you can do is enumerate your standards for a hotel. Where would you like to find the hotel? Do you prefer to be in the center of the city, close to shopping and restaurants or do you prefer to be in the center? If security is a problem as this is the first time in the country, do you feel safe in the area where the hotel is located? Will the location facilitate the access to transportation? You could investigate these on the Internet or better still consult on a map of the area. You can also join forums and request location information and you can easily request a comment about the hotel you are watching.
Do you own the hotel facilities and prefer to have a swimming pool, spa or gym? Or it's more of the room that worries you and prefers a private bathroom with a private bathroom. If you connect and want any of the functions of the room, it is better to contact the hotel directly to make sure all of your requests are guaranteed. Online reservations usually do not guarantee special requests and you will only know if any of these are available upon arrival at the hotel. Therefore, if you find that your request is not available, it may ruin your vacations.
The price may be higher if you book the hotel directly, but at least you will have the room you want. However, you can still get a discount for your reservation if you can use your frequent flyer points to redeem the discounts of the hotel. There are also hotels that offer discounts if they are part of an alliance with flights or car rental companies. The business of your credit card can also offer exclusive rates for special hotels. You can check them before surfing the web.
This question still remains if the hotel you have chosen is a good hotel or not. You have not been there and you do not know anyone who had been there before. One way to find out is to review the reviews about this hotel at your destination. You can also join forums as you've previously suggested to request your comments. The result does not have to be all positive since not all people have the same standards. However, 8 out of 10 comments will be enough.