Choose quiet hotels. Painfully obvious, I know — but the hard part is how. Once I’ve narrowed down my options, I scour online reviews. Most big booking sites (TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Airbnb) let you search their reviews for keywords such as “noise” and “quiet.”
So once you book, ask for a quiet room — early, often, and as insistently as possible while still being polite. For this reason, I prefer to book direct — even if I’ve done my research on a booking site — so I can be clear and specific about my need for a quiet room.
Make sure you are specific, there could be language barriers. Make sure you are clear that you would like the quietest room away from the elevators. A word on earplugs: Use them. They are your single most effective weapon against hotel noise. If you find them uncomfortable, maybe you’re using the hard, scratchy Styrofoam cheapies that some hotels hand out to assuage their guilt for skimping on decent windows. Try several varieties and find one that works for you. I like Mack’s, which go in soft but expand robustly. If you’re bothered by the sensation of something in your ear, give it a couple of nights; you’ll be surprised how quickly you adjust. If you just can’t get over the feeling of something inside your ear, try over-ear silicone putty earplugs, which can be very nearly as effective.