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30 January 2012

How I Book Hotels

I hope this post is useful though I am afraid it might not fo those who are pretty used to book their hotels through Internet. Anyway, here it comes! :)

Usually I book a hotel once I have done a lot of research of the places I want to visit, so I know more or less where or in which area it is more interesting for me to stay, etc. At this point I usually take a look at some forum as Foro Los Viajeros and see what threads are open related to it. Many times this is the way I have learnt from hotels with a good price/quality relation. It also helps that I can hear from other people's experiences and know they were good, though that does not mean mine is also going to be so. It is also interesting in order to find links to local hotel search engines. There are many countries where these work so much better than the international ones and give many more results.

I have to make it clear that htere is one very important thing to me: I look for hotel reservation that I don't have to pay for in advance. I think having to the whole amount of my stay before arriving is pretty unfair. Some webs make you do it if you want to book through them. There is also something very interesting: some hotel chains  offer a discount if you pay in advance, in their websites and/or hotel search engines. I have also found in hotel search engines which have the payment in advance as the only option, some huge differences in price comparing to others where you  pay when you get to the hotel -much cheaper in the former ones. Of course, your choice will depend on how sure you are that going to make it somewhere for a specific night. I would advise not to forget that there are, unfortunately, quite a few factors out of our control that can prevent us from sleeping where we had planned to. From something as usual as a delayed or even cancelled flight to something we had never thought of like having to cancel the whole holidays due to health problems. Anyway, as I said, that is for each of us to consider and evaluate the risk, also taking into account he cancellation policy of every hotel.

So I usually book through search engines that allow me to just reserve, though it also happens that the hotel does not admit this and they charge the whole price on your card -of course, that is something the search engine usually warns you about.

These are the tags I usually keep open when I am searching:

-two or three hotel search engines that allow me to make reservations without paying in advance, like Booking, Hotels, etc.

-a local hotel search engine if possible

- a hotel search engine that compares prices for each hotel in different hotel search engines -Oh, my God, this is a bit of a tongue twister...- for instance, Trivago. Just in case I decide that the price difference is worth my paying in advance :)

-as for me the situation of the hotel is the main feature, I also have Google maps open in order to check the Hotels. If am also renting a car I really look at the parking facilities of the hotel and if not then I also open a tag with a public transportation map of the place.

-Tripadvisor to see the latest opinions of the different hotels

And, if my computer does not explode after all this, I start from the cheap ones checking with these tools. I also usually take a look at the hotels' websites for a better description and to check for rates. Sometimes they have very good offers and they may have email subscription to get future offers.
The truth is that sometimes I feel like I am studying a Master on a place hotels :) but when your budget is limited the possibility of having a well located hotel at a reasonable price might mean being able to stay for more days or to pay more tickets to see more things, or, why not, to save money for four next trip!

Lastly, I have been spoken about hese two websites, which seem quite interesting, but which I don't know. Any of you have used them? What are they like?

-Hotwire: according to the webstie they offer very good deals but without revealing the actual hotel until you book and pay for it. You do know though the area where it is located and its characteristics.

-Wimdu: This is to rent apartments and rooms.

How do you reserve your hotels? Any piece of advice?

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