Before you book a hotel.

Old Feb 9th, 2003, 06:14 PM
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Before you book a hotel.

Do you have to see a website? With pictures? Of the rooms?

Do you go on word of mouth? Opinions from here? Reviews? Rex? Trip Advisor? IGOUGO etc.

No, I'm not a travel agent or anything. Just curious. I know this isn't Europe specific, but it applies to European hotel booking experiences.
Biscuit is offline  
Old Feb 9th, 2003, 06:25 PM
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I look at a websita and the rooms,read opinions from this site, read rants and raves,IGNORE Rex and take it from there.
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Old Feb 9th, 2003, 06:42 PM
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I have never read any useful advice from Armand, and don't know who s/he is.

I guess a few people have been satisfied with some of the places I have recommended over time: Bonvecchiati (Venice), del Senato and Cesari (Rome), GH Victoria (Menaggio), Albana (Weggis), Domaine de Chateauvieux (Satigny - - better as a restaurant than as a place to stay), Vilal Bligny (Etretat), l'Abbaye (Talloires), Erasmus (Ghent), Wasserburg-Anholt (in Germany, town? same name?), Ulmer Spatz (Ulm), Hanseatic (Hamburg), Pulitzer (Amsterdam), Goldenen Ente (Salzburg), Fairlight Lodge (Windsor). Plenty of other little good ones in other places, but I have not necessarily mentioned them before here.

I do like to see pictures. I like websites. I like brochures, and put some credibility in places that send them (fewer and fewer do, it seems, though).

I think that a strong number of positive reviews on Rants'n'Raves carries some weight.

I like to try on my own to figure out what i think of the location. But I rely on info from every possible source for cities that I do not know at all.

That's where I am on Prague and Vienna right now.

Best wishes,

[email protected]
rex is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 12:03 AM
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After looking at websites and pictures of hotels that I thought looked quite okay, I arrived at some to find they were real dogs. They can make the pictures look really flattering so unless it's a four star and unlikely to be in the dog category I wouldn't place too much emphasis on pictures. I think recommendations from people who have stayed at any hotel you are interested in is the best option.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 12:17 AM
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Rex, My favorite hotels in Vienna were the König Von Ungarn and the Kaiserin Elisabeth. In Prague, the U Krale Karla. Unsolicited opinion.....
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 04:09 AM
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Thank you, Bellarose, but we're looking a little lower on the price scale. The website does give a very good mention of U Krale (under Hotels, Luxury).
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 04:36 AM
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Hello Biscuit, I will usually start a search here for hotels where I plan to go and will read whatever has been said about them. I will also check out web sites for hotels with the understanding that they will show the best rooms, views, etc. I will also spend time in my favorite bookstores reading travel books about the area and the hotels I am interested in. My husband and I enjoy the search process - it is the start of our adventure. When we have come up with several possibilities, I will probably post on this board to get more opinions and suggestions.

And, yes, I do look forward to any of Rex's information (thank you, Rex) as well as help from other people on this forum. Odd that you would single him out as there are many others here who post often and with helpful experienced-based recommendations as Rex does.

Armand, I thought we were all trying to be more civil on this board. It didn't take long for the nastiness to return.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 04:38 AM
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I pretty much always want to see room pictures - I can only think of a couple of exceptions, and that's just because I really, really couldn't find any (a convent in Sienna, for example, and the Rossyia in Moscow).

I try as hard as I can to avoid hotel rooms with the "guess which country you're in" ambiance.

That said, I also rely heavily on reviews. Fodors is my first stop (obviously!!), then tripadvisor (I used to dislike them on principle since they're a bit scavenger like, just regurgitating other sites' information, but they're SO useful!!), then Igoyougo. Then I check Lastminute, laterooms, and google for deals.

Recent great finds (under $150 US for a double including tax & breakfast, centrally located, with buckets of the requisite charm) are the Cranley in London and the Hotel Paris in Florence.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 04:39 AM
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Here'e were I think guidebooks are best. Recommendations from this board have been just OK, recommendations from
recently updated guidebooks have been much more reliable.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 04:50 AM
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I couldn't disagree more regarding guidebooks vs message board recommendations. For me, guidebooks and magazine articles and such (and I usually consult several or many) help narrow down the choices. I know now which guidebooks have the sort of recommendations that appeal to me
(for example, Fodors does, "Great Sleeps..." does, but Rick Steves doesn't).

But guidebooks are written up to one year before they are on the bookstore shelves, and of course things about the hotels or restaurants or even museums for that matter can change the day after the book goes to print. Also, some guidebook series tend to feature the same hotels year after year without branching out much into new establishments.

I consider the 3 or 4 hotels in each place that have risen to the top of my list, and then I check message boards (mostly here, and Rants and Raves) for comments on hotel quirks or specific rooms that guidebooks don't mention.

There will always be at least one person who has a bad experience at an otherwise-recommended place; I try to keep that in mind. But once in a while a piece of info pops up that gives me pause. For example, many people can keep recommending the same little Paris 2-star hotel, but then someone says
"our room and the rooms we saw were very tiny." If space is of a concern to me, that might give me pause.

I don't care that much about pictures; a good photographer can make one room even a dump look good imo.

elaine is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 04:52 AM
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I do basically all of the above. Usually, after checking a couple guidebooks (I always include Karen Brown), looking at websites and hotel locations,and reviewing posts, my husband and I can narrow our choices to one or two hotels per city...then price becomes the determining factor. I enjoy the search.
Judy is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 05:07 AM
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Biscuit: Good question. I try to do as much research as possible, I really kind of LOVE it! But the hardest part is narrowing the search down to 2 choices, and still have a devil of a time choosing(happening now in Stresa and Bellagio). Those geniuses at web development can take a dump and make it look quaint and charming, UNTIL you walk into the place! Decisions, decisions! Judy
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 05:42 AM
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I've stayed and liked the Hotel Atlantic in Praque. Good location and excellent breakfast.
You can look it up on the Orbis website.
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 05:46 AM
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Hi Rex,
For your Prague trip you might want to look at the Pension Dientzenhofer.
Stayed there a few years ago and loved it, especially the little terrace over the canal.
ira is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 10:34 AM
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First, I decide roughly where I want to stay in a city from guidebooks, what I want to do, etc. Then I peruse hotel web sites for that city in combination with several good guidebooks. I do want to see web sites nowadays for some idea of pictures, even the nice 2 star hotels have them, although I certainly review them with a cautious eye (ie, for what is omitted, I can tell they are the best room, etc).

I value the opinions of several guidebooks I know and trust and can just tell from the discussion that we are seeing eye-to-eye about some things and rate things similarly.

I do review some customer comments on web sites (for France in particular, also found a good one for Poland), and I will review this forum just to see what people say.

In contrast to others, I place least value upon personal comments rating hotels on message boards like this one, because I usually have no idea what the person values in comparison to me and how they rate things. If it's a very popular hotel and there are 10+ comments, then I can get a better feel for things, but one comment is almost meaningless to me unless it were someone I really trusted and knew from experience.

I think professional guidebooks that I use usually have better valuations of hotels than unknown individuals and evaluate things more fairly and in a broader sense, and they know what is important to their readers. Sandra Gustafson, for example, I use a lot and really trust; I also use Timeout, Gault-Millau for France, Frommers, and online I trust for editorial opinion. I do use Tripadvisor for convenience of information although they don't have their own opinion. I have viewed Fodors Rants and Raves a few times but don't find it very useful or trustworthy. One guidebook I think is worthless for hotels is Eyewitness. I will admit, unfortunately, I don't like Fodors guides that well for hotels, either--mainly they don't seem to have very good information (their choices aren't too bad, just limited), and I feel that Frommers is more simpatico with me in terms of outlook and opinion.
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Old Feb 13th, 2003, 09:32 AM
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I do as well Judy, to the extreme.

If I have months ahead, I spend probably 100's of hours on the internet looking at every bookmarked website I have for information on the hotel, only considering those with pictures of the rooms.

I also ask friends and check guidebooks. I compile a list as I go, scratching off the ones out of price range, with bad reviews, imperfect location and so on until I end up with two or three.

Then, I usually sit frustated over the last two or three for a week or so before I just go on impulse and pick the last one.

I tell you, I like being my own travel agent, but it's exhausting! One good thing is my hard work almost inevitably always pays off.

Worked really well for the Grand Canyon and New Orleans. Now the big European test!
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Old Feb 13th, 2003, 11:52 AM
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I like to see pictures of a hotel only as a weeding out process. As mentioned before, you can make a dump look good but I figure if the pictures are not inviting, this is a great sign to move on.
The problem with most guides is that they are too limiting. As good as guides like Fodors and Frommers are, they miss about 80% of the available choices. If a hotel is not mentioned in their guide, I don't know if they didn't find it worthy or if they never got around to rating it. That is what makes this board so valuable. If I find a good deal for a hotel on Expedia (for example), I can come here and ask if someone has stayed there and their thoughts about it.
pop is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2003, 11:57 AM
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I too spend a lot of time searching for just the right B&B.

I place equal weight on website/pictures and personal recommendations. ( The worst place ever, in London was suggested by my Aunt who loved it - the best - one I found in Killarney after searching the web).

I go with the rule of thumb - The pictures they post are the absolute best they can , so if it isn't fabulous, imagine what the lesser rooms look like. Also - I really prefer sites that post room pics from multiple rooms, not just the one that looks best.

Pictures also give you the feel of the place - is it cluttered? spartan? roomy?

After I narrow it down - then I go with rec's from different forums - Michele Erdvig (sp?) only recommends places she has actually toured & stayed. (

Then, because it is easier for me ( and it is all about being easy for me - if it comes down to 2 or 3 - I go with the one that uses email, so we can communicate at times that works for both of us.

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