Room-Finding Tricks: 2009
The town is packed, you don't have a reservation, and night is quickly approaching. What are your emergency room-finding tricks?
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last minute booking tricks
I always travel with internet, use booking.com, and then contact the hotel directly. If you use a Pingo calling card, it gives you a local 1800 number for almost every country, and you can ring them and make your reservation. Booking.com burned me a couple of times and while they are handy for travels that are well planned and orchestrated, when you're reserving on the go, the cancellations can really scr!@ you over.
Cadiz, Spain, HI spain Fri 01/01/2010
NY Times Hotels under $150
Check out the newest New York Times list of hotels under $150 in Europe.
Pacific Palisades, CA USA Sat 10/10/2009
hotels in Italy
Florence: Bellevue House was lovely and owner very helpful ( Antonio spoke English, too!).Highly recommended!! Venice: Casa Lagana ( Alberto) pulled a "bait and switch" and led us to a different location that was not even a hotel, just 2 shabby rooms...kind of scary and upsetting. Avoid Casa Lagana at all costs ( he was referred by hotel Corte in Rick Steves book that was not available. That hotel helped us to find an apartment and all ended well).
Hamburg, NY USA Thu 10/01/2009
Hotels + Visas for Minsk, Belarus, Part 2
If you still need a room in Belarus, I recommend using the Belintourist agency, www.belintourist.by. Their staff are very talented and speak reasonably good English, and myself I had a good experience with them. For about $ 150 including breakfast, they booked two nights at the Oktyabrskaya hotel and sent me a letter of invitation to Belarus as well as the voucher, all by email. Both are required to be printed and then sent along with the visa application, 2" x 2" photo of myself, and my passport (obviously). Subsequently the visa was sent to me as a sticker in my passport, just over a week from when I had sent it for processing.
The visa registration will occur in the hotel for about $ 20 in addition to any further night stays. So if I were to recommend an agency for a room in Belarus, please try Belintourist.
Spasibo i do-svidanya!
Plano, TX USA Sun 09/20/2009
Avoid using booking.com to book travel in England. I had to cancel a room because of transportation problems, and I made a point of doing so 1/2 hour before the deadline. They didn't post the cancellation until after the deadline, and the hotel won't refund the charge now. The whole thing is highly suspect. Don't be defrauded by booking.com!
Seattle, WA USA Sat 09/12/2009
Hotels + Visas for Minsk, Belarus, Part 1
If anyone is planning to stay in Belarus anytime soon, be careful with whom you plan your stay. In Belarus you have to book your accommodations through an authorized travel agency in Belarus. In my case it is Belintourist (www.belintourist.by). The accommodations are slightly cheaper than the rack rates you might find in travel websites like expedia, travelcity, priceline, etc., and such sites do not offer visa support for the invitation letter. Belintourist, for example will offer the invitation letter for $ 15 with hotel reservation, but others like www.sakub.by will ask for $ 20, plus the hotel reservation. So why is the invitation letter necessary? Belarus, Russia and a few other CIS nations have a similar visa scheme (though Georgia and Ukraine do not require this for US Citizens staying less than 90 days for leisure). The visas themselves can cost $ 135 each, and then there is the delivery, about $40 to $50. So your actual visa expense will total from $ 200 to $ 220, depending on what kind of entry visa you select, and how soon you need your visa (about $ 400.00 in total, if you need it within three business days). Russia charges about the same for its visas and visa support. I recommend the "Russia and Belarus" edition by Lonely Planet as they have good information on visa requirements. Anyhow I wanted to share with everyone my experience so far on booking a hotel room and a visa for Belarus.
Plano, TX USA Sun 08/02/2009
Brochure wavers at the train staion
After calling several places in Florence with no luck, I decided to go through the room-finding service at the train station. Rick's book had advised against it as they tack on additional charges etc. but I was getting desperate. But before I could get there I was approached by a man who asked if I was traveling alone. A little scary... but I admitted that I was. He showed me a pamphlet of his hotel, it wasn't bad, but I was still a little wary. Reading my expression, I guess, he asked if I knew of Rick Steves. Well, it turns out his hotel was suggested in the RS Guide. It was a nice little hotel - a great deal for the money - and the owner, though he seemed a little dodgy at first under the circumstances, was extremely gracious and charming. I had an almost identical experience in Prague. Be careful when approached by strangers waving brochures at the train station, but don't dismiss them all together. You might miss out on something good.
Tulsa, USA Wed 07/29/2009
finding last minute accomodations
Just call the town tourist office and they have always recommended comfortable, clean, and reasonablly priced places to stay. Just tell them your price range and requirements.
newport beach, california USA Tue 07/07/2009
Pitcairn B&B, Keswick England
I just returned from England; we stayed at a lovely B&B in Keswick, the Lake Country. Pitcairn B&B on Blencathra St. is a gem. It came under new mgt 2 years ago; the new host couple clearly enjoys its role and has created a welcoming atmosphere. Our room was small but clean & nicely decorated; its location is convenient to city center. This was one of the nicest B&Bs of our trip. It isn't in RS' England book - all of Rick's choices were full. I recommend it without reservation :)
Winston-Salem, NC USA Sun 06/28/2009
We just returned from Germany and thoroughly enjoyed out stay at Pension Winzerhaus in Bacharach. The hosts, Sybille and Stefan, were very friendly and helpful. I borrowed one of their bikes for a pleasant and scenic ride along the Rhine bike path. The rooms, while basic, were clean and comfortable and they supplied a hair dryer which was a plus. One hint: book a room on the back side of the pension, facing the vineyards, and your stay will be very quiet.
Calgary, AB Canada Sun 06/14/2009
Family Lodgings: Try apartments
I found it difficult to find room accomodations for a family of 4 in Paris. The idea of family rooms seems to be more common in other areas, particularly Germany, than in Paris. In Paris, we could find only 2 rooms with 2 beds each, or 2 adjoining rooms, or in some a family room for 3 people and a small baby cot (too small for a child). There may be family rooms in other hotels but I couldn't find any.
I then went through Vacation Rentals by Owners www.vrbo.com, and looked through the MANY apartments that they have all over Paris. There was info about where the apartment was, and thanks to google maps you can see what the building looks like, vrbo.com has photos, what appliances are available in which apartment(washer & dryer, wi-fi, etc), how many beds, etc. (tip: remember to check out what floor the apartment is on, no elevators). It was the same amount of money as 2 hotel rooms, although we could have gone cheaper, but with two 9 year olds, the space of an apartment vs 2 typically small Parisian hotel rooms.....ah, the space was heaven. Plus we had the convenience of breakfast at home and dinners at home. Pasta was $18/plate when we were there....so eating pasta in our apartment was actually a money saver.
We've also rented via www.vrbo.com in the US and have always had a great experience---I know they are in areas other than Paris, so if you are a family looking for a place to stay, give it a try.
San Diego, CA USA Tue 06/02/2009
Hotel Julia Roma
Hotel Julia in Rome is a basic but comfortable hotel with a very nice staff. I had stayed there in 2001 and then again in March of this year. Their prices are very reasonable given its location.
For 35 euros, I had a room with shower down the hall (there was a toilet and sink in the room). Not very fancy but clean and comfortable and I never intend to spend a lot of time in the hotel room.
Breakfast was very good. The first two days they asked if I wanted coffee and I ask for an capaccino. The third day, they just brought me one.
The hotel is five minutes from the Trevi fountain and close to everything. There is a metro stop very close and buses.
Rome is very expensive so finding a deal like this on accommodations allowed me to spend eight days in Rome. After a while, I felt like a native, going to a museum or a few churches in the morning then just hanging out in the afternoon.
Most of the time I would end up at Capidomonte for the sunset.
There is so much great art work in little churches that I want to spend a month in Rome next year just checking this out. One church (sorry forgot the name) on the street leading to the Colessum had amazing mosaics, astounding and on a par with the mosaics in Ravenna.
Don't miss Sant'Andrea al Quirinale, a church designed by Bernini. Walk up hill from the hotel, turn right at the first major street and it is on the left side about 150 meters down. Looks like nothing on the outside but absolutely beautiful and elegant on the inside. It was Bernini's labor of love and he would not accept any money for his work.
New York, NY USA Sun 05/31/2009
Great Accomodation in Florence
Florence great accomodation!! The best accomodation we had on our seven stop italian vacation was "Panella's" in Florence. Host Gratziella was warm, welcoming and very accomodating. She booked several reservations for us, suggested itineraries, and even offerred to open for breakfast 1/2 hour early the day we left. She welcomed us with a formal Buongiorno, and two days later said goodbye with kisses and hugs.
Our room was large and attractive, the bathroom , big and clean, the bed the best the best of the trip. (Judging from her brochure the other 5 rooms are even nicer).
Oh yes and a discount bigger than suggested in Ricks book.
Gary and Sylvia
Victoria, Canada Sun 05/24/2009
Worst hotel -Venice, May 2009
Hotel La Residenza...worst hotel experience of 7 during trip. Sewage smell in entry, tiny room (single), cheap breakfast, no AC...all for 90 euro. I had far better in Bologna for 40 euro. Should not be in Rick's book!
Boulder, CO USA Thu 05/21/2009
Best hotel - Venice, May 2009
Best hotel for the money in Venice. Casa Rezzonico. Beautiful large room with 2 windows facing quiet garden with a patio. Great respite from the tourist crush around St. Marks. Only 120 euro a night. Worth much more.
Boulder, CO USA Thu 05/21/2009
If you can stomach some uncertainty in your travel plans, Craigslist (/vacation rentals) is a good way to go. We got a really nice apartment in Amsterdam for an incredibly cheap rate and truly felt like locals b/c we were staying in an apartment outside of a touristy area. The owner of the first apartment I booked backed out at the last minute, but there are always more listings online.
Philadelphia, PA USA Mon 05/18/2009
I would like to warn everybody about the horrible service and accomodation offered by Mrs Brigitte Lenglachner in Salzburg. I had read about her in the R. Steves' 2007 guide to Austria and Germany, so I booked a room (zimmer)for 5 days with her. However I could only stay there for 3 days, as the place is horrendous. First the room smelled very badly, it was awfully dirty. The breakfast is minimal and it is served and left at the door outside the room. On one occasion, it came without sugar, the next day no orange juice. The bread was old and coffee was horrible and cold. The mattress must have been a relic of WWII, old, worn out and dirty. The shower another relic of pre-war days works on coins. Only one coin was given to me a day and that supposedly meant the right to a 3 minute shower. However it didnīt work most of the time and I had to do without a shower the last two days!! I could have no more of Mrs Lenglachner and her stinginess so I left two days before schedule. Besides it is far to get to Town from her place if you are on foot as it was my case and taking buses to and from can be very confusing! Please avoid Brigitte Lenglachner at all costs!!
Sao Paulo, USA Sun 04/19/2009
Warning for Palio in Siena
Warning, If you are going to Siena Italy. We had to cancel due to hospital stay for cancer. Only got a 10% refund on $1919.00. Gira Italian Vacation Rentals will not budge. Sour taste over it all.
Hillsboro , Oregon USA Mon 04/13/2009
Hotel Maximilian, Reutte, Austria
We found Hotel Maximilian in one of Rick's books and what a gem it is! I first stayed at the hotel, run by the Koch family, in 2006 while on a trip with my sister. Our experience was so nice that I went back in 2008 with my husband. It was our honeymoon and Gabi set us up in a very special room with a wonderful view of the ruins. The rooms are large, the location is fabulous and the Koch family are very sweet. I recently sent Gabi a thank you letter for making our honeymoon stay in Reutte so wonderful and to my surprise she wrote me a letter in return. You always feel at home when you stay at Hotel Maximilian. We loved it!
Tacoma, WA USA Mon 04/13/2009
Who needs a trick when you've got Rick !
Ricks books don't cost money...they make money !
I am on my way to Paris at the end of this April and I got Rick's Paris 2009 book. Just booked my hotel in the Rue Cler at Hotel Beaugency.
Here's the trick. Rick's book says 105 Euro for a single, the website says 115 Euro. No problem. When booking online, the hotel offers Rick's readers 20% off (based on availability). and.. they also had an 'internet special' for 95 Euro.
so... after a little confusion finding the place to input the rate code 'RICK', i figured out that when you see the 'modify search' link on the page where you select your room, click it to get to the place to input the rate code RICK.
In summary, some people pay the rack rate of 115, and then there are the rest of us. The hotel took 20% off the internet special price and I got my room for 76 Euro per night. Net Gain = 39 Euro X 2 = 78 Euro's saved with Rick's book.
Cha-Ching !! Thanks Rick !
*your results may vary in the absence of an 'internet special'.
and thanks to Christelle at the hotel for her patience with me as i figured out the rate code situation.
**yeah.. i know i wrote Rick's name about 20 times here. but for 78 Euro savings, you would too !
Miami, FL USA Fri 04/03/2009
Katti House in Florence
My daughter and I just returned from Italy. Bt far our best hotel experience was in Florence at the Katti House. The owners, who speak little or no English, were warm and welcoming to us and did everything they could to make our stay comfortable. I would highly recommend this small, quaint, charming place to anyone going to Florence who does not want ectra frills. Just a clean, affordable place to stay in a great central location. I learned about this Hotel from Rick Steve's! By the way, don't leave home without your Rick Steve's books or podcasts - they are life savers!
Westminster, CO USA Mon 03/23/2009
Caution to book Bacharach YH
If you want to stay in the castle Youth Hostel in Bacharach (Burg Stahleck)in Germany, do not inquire directly, but use on-line service of YH hostel. I have to say that I am throughly unhappy with unintelligent human service in booking there. They insist to have a credit card to book, which is NOT mandatory to book, but for a guarantee of the booked room after 18:00 of the day. I wanted to book an additional night in busy Eastern time in 2009, and was told they had 2 bed rooms with 2 beds,which I can book for my family. They are good at quick response of e-mail, but very bad in giving proper information for a guest's requests, thus takes very long to find out simple things like 'if they have a family room instead'. I thought I booked it by e-mail, after back and force of e-mails for 3-4 days, and suddenly got an e-mail, 'In the meantime, we sold the rooms to others.'!! It turns out that they wasted my time for 4 days with insisting credit card, all these time I could have booked online without hassle, and they failed to inform me that, thus losing my rooms. Again, you do not need a credit card information to book a youth hostel in Germany, and it is wrong for them to insist, just for a booking. It seems to be very popular place, and maybe that is why they are not so friendly? Or are they simply badly managed? I am questioning if this is worthy place to spend night on, even if the place looks beautiful. It certainly spoiled my fun already. The lesson for others is that book on-line for German youth hostels, to be sure, and to get intelligent services. I am certainly booking other nearby Youth Hostel for the night.
Copenhagen, Denmark Wed 02/25/2009
Hello Travelers!!! Here's a great trick in booking a hotel room. I just did this last night. I used Orbitz to book my hotel room in Barcelona and found a great deal! I will be staying at the Ayre Hotel Caspe in Barcelona for 6 days for $89.77 per night, which is already a steal for this 4 star hotel! As I was booking the flight, there was a section asking for a discount code. So, I googled orbitz discount code and saw a listing of different discount codes from 15-20% off, $40-50 off and others that included expiration dates of each discount. I tried inputting a couple of these codes and didn't work until the third worked wonders! I was happy to get $40 off bringing the total price of $456.40 for 2 people!! This is my first time traveling in Barcelona. Is this a deal or what???!
Rancho Cucamonga, ca USA Tue 02/17/2009
Bad Hotel Experience in Barcelona
A tip for travellers headed to Barcelona - don't book with Apsis Hotel chains. I was having difficulty finding the Hotel Apsis Splendid which I had booked through their website. I went into the Hotel Apsis Gran Ronda and was told that the hotel was one in the same which is a reasonable enough explanation as hotels often change names around Spain. What I found out the next day when my credit card was charged for the night I didn't spend in the Hotel Splendid was that I had been duped and their hotel staff is not professional in the least. A word of warning from a hard lesson learned - if you misplace your reservation paperwork go to an internet cafe and pay the euros to print it out yourself with directions from Google, Michelin or their website.
Leavenworth, WA USA Thu 01/08/2009
Rome Hotel Target Inn
My wife and I stayed at the Target Inn in Rome based off of a review found in Andy Steves' recommendations. After a long hassle booking the room and being quoted higher rates then posted on the website, we arrived to find a large room with many problems. The advertised internet,satelite tv and telephone did not work, the shower head was broken and our towels were wet and we found a couple of used shampoo bottles in the bathroom,the walls were thin and we could hear everything going on in the lobby. On the third day there was no hot water. Check out time was posted as 12 p.m. and when that day came we were told that we needed to check out by 11 a.m. or earlier, if not we would be charged extra. After three nights of staying there, they informed us that the credit card machine was broken and that we needed to go to an ATM to pull out enough money to cover the room. Lastly, after looking at my credit card bill, I found that I was charged for the stay after we had already paid for it in cash. Be careful when booking a room at this hotel.
Chicago, IL USA Sat 01/03/2009