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How to find a hotel - Go to a bar.

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When arriving almost anywhere that gets some tourists one way to find a place to stay is to go to a bar for a drink. Sound strange? Don't you believe me? OK, some explanation is required I guess.

Suppose you arrive in a village in Greece or somewhere in France or in a small desert town in California, or in the southeast of England, it really doesn't matter where, but those are places I can give you actual examples of quite easily.

Instead of looking for a hotel, go to a bar and sit down at the bar and order a drink. After 10 or 15 minutes ask the bartender if he can suggest a decent place to stay. Tell him/her what you are looking for. Clean, cheap or 5 star, for a night or a week, etc. You will be surprised what might happen.

On a road trip through France one time a bartender suggested a place a few blocks away. We finished our drinks, drove over and found the place locked up. A hotel, obviously in business but the front door was locked! A very nice looking and probably 3 star hotel. We drove back to the bar.

When I told the bartender he said, 'oh, I forgot it is Sunday, George will be at home. Just a minute I will call him.' He went and called, came back and told me George would drive over to the bar and meet us. He'd be there in about 15 minutes. I ordered drinks and we sat back looking at the river outside the bar's window until George duly arrived.

George came in, introduced himself and I ordered him a glass of wine. He explained that he too had a life outside of work and on weekends he liked to spend his time with his family like everyone else. So the hotel was closed although there were guests in the hotel. They had a code to open the door.

He told me there were rooms available, we should just go to the hotel use the code which he then told me, and pick a room. The vacant rooms 12, 14 and 8 (or some such) had the key in their door and we should just pick one. He finished his wine while we chatted a little and then left. No money, no credit card number, nothing, just go and let yourself in. We will settle the bill when you leave.

In a seaside village on a Greek island, I arrived (travellling alone) in mid-afternoon. The village had a seaside promenade (no cars allowed) and lots of little 'hotels' with 6-10 rooms each along the promenade. I went into a bar and ordered a drink. Eventually after a bite to eat as well, I asked the bartender/owner about a room. Where would he suggest? He called his wife over and after finding out what I wanted, Maria called her cousin Maria who owned the little mini-market a few doors away. Shortly after, Maria's son Georgos showed up and asked me if I would like to come and see the two rooms they rented out over the mini-market. He showed me a spacious room with 3 single beds and a small kitchen area as well as a large balcony with a table and four chairs on it that overlooked the sea. For 25 Euros per night if I stayed a week.

In England enroute to the ferry at Dover I needed a place to sleep before catching the ferry in the morning. So I drove into the town of Faversham just northwest of Canterbury. I found a pub and went in for a drink. When I asked the landlord about a room he told me they had rooms upstairs and I was all set. Didn't even have to move. That night, they had a 'lock-in'. For those who don't know, that's when the landlord locks the pub doors as per the law but the local regulars continue on in the pub having another drink or two. I felt quite included.

I returned to that same pub a few years later, again on the way to Dover. When I asked about a room the landlord told me they were full and he though everywhere would be full as there were some weddings etc. going on. Sure enough, after his good wife had phoned around for me no room was to be had in any inn in the area. Not to worry the landlord told me. If you are willing we will let you sleep in the pub for the night. So at closing when everyone had left, his wife gave me a pillow and blanket and I slept peacefully on one fo the padded benches. No charge.

In Southern California I drove into a small town in the middle of a state park (the town was there before the park existed and so has been able to remain even though surrounded by park). Doing my usual I headed for a bar and eventually asked the bartender for suggestions. He said, 'just a minute' and walked away. He had a conversation with a guy at the other end of the bar and came back. 'If you want to go with Jack over there, he is the manager of a golf resort and they have rental accommodation available that are condos and casitas that members own.'

So off I went with Jack to see this place. It was a 5 star gated golf course resort community. As we were driving over, Jack asked me about budget and how long I wanted a place for. I said 5 or 6 nights and under $100 a night. He said, 'can you stretch to 7 nights and pay $600 for the week? Normally this place I am going to show you goes for $1200 a week but it's the slow season and I know the owner wants to try and at least make enough to pay their costs.'

It was a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom house with everything new and modern. Along with the place to stay I got pool access, (never saw another person there all week) and access to the Club House as well as a free round of golf every day including the golf cart! That was a bargain.

Finding a room can be a chore sometimes, but I've yet to have this method not end up well. So next time instead of checking your guidebook or asking a taxi driver (always a bad idea actually), try going for a drink.

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