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"fly by the seat of your pants" accommodation?

"fly by the seat of your pants" accommodation?

May 31st, 2000, 10:52 AM
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"fly by the seat of your pants" accommodation?

We're travelling to Italy and France this September. We've booked accommodation in Paris and Rome but nothing in between, as we don't want to be tied down by a rigid schedule. How easy is it to find lodging when you arrive in a town/city by car? Any suggestions/experiences out there? thanx.
May 31st, 2000, 11:10 AM
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Hi, DeAnn,
Generally I don't think it's terribly hard to find accommodation on arrival, but it can certainly be time consuming, because vacancies and your tastes might not mesh right away with the first place you see. Going from place to place can get pretty frustrating after a while, especially when you're with car and need to look for parking.

We've gotten in the habit of trying to plan one to two days ahead and book rooms accordingly, using the best guides or other resources available. If you know your next stop, many hotel keepers or travel offices will have recommendations for good accommodation, and will often place the call.

Failing that, it's best to settle on what class of accommodation you want (2 star hotels, etc.) and limit your searches to that class. Saves lots of steps. If you're willing to put up with chains, there are a number of hotel chains in Europe (like the Accor group of Mercure, Novotel, Ibis and others) who have properties in lots of places and offer central booking services, but often with cheaper rates and a little more character than the mega-multinationals.
Jun 1st, 2000, 01:43 PM
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If travelling by car you will have no problems finding rooms in all price ranges along the way in September, with the probable exception of Venice. Have no experience with Florence, but suspect may be like Venice.
If travelling by train your choices will be reduced to proximity to the station as you will not want to be lugging luggage too far looking for a room. There are usually plenty of hotels near stations, not 5 star, but adequate.
Depending on your tastes for night life (or lack of it) you will always find better and less expensive accomodations in the smaller towns, often with lake/river/mountain views too.
Resist the temptation to book ahead as much as you can, the flexibility is much more fun - you can also change directions/plans to avoid rainy weather which can occur occasionally in September.
I've just re-read your post and note you are driving, so ignore my section on trains to save me re-jigging this.
As I said the car will make it easier to find and select hotels except in large city centres where parking will be a potential problem. so check the suburbs first.
Jun 1st, 2000, 02:00 PM
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We are with the "seat of your pants" school. We tour by bike and we never know how far we will ride on any particular day. We have never, in 7 trips to Europe, failed to find lodging, although we have sweated it out a couple of times. Our taste runs to 2 star hotels, usually the B&Bs are too far out of town for biking purposes.
Jun 1st, 2000, 02:27 PM
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Having done it both ways I prefer to prebook my hotels. I just enjoy getting off a train and knowing where I am going, dropping off my bags and going out to explore. If certain things are important to you (I like to be near a garden or park so that I can take a morning walk, for example) then book ahead. It also is very helpful if you are on a tight budget. However I have never had any problems finding lodgings the by just entering a town, finding tourist information and booking. Expecially in September, and this is kind of nice to know if you get a crazy idea to visit a tiny village in the South of France. As a previous poster recommended Venice definately you should book ahead, and Florence if you want to be near city center. Also be sure to find out if there are any conventions/gatherings/festivals in a particular town before you arrive.... I spent a night on a park bench in Munich during a computer convention.
Jun 1st, 2000, 05:54 PM
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To some large extent it's a personal decision. For us, we almost always book ahead for a number of reasons, based on past experience.

If you're traveling off-season and you know for sure the area has no convention, opera opening week or major festival you'll be okay.

The best buys, though (value-for-money) tend to be small properties so you may not get into a first or second choice place. Rarely though, will you find only a park bench. Rarely.

We've outlined what our experience tells us at www.twenj.com/tipshotel.htm

Jun 2nd, 2000, 06:36 AM
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We do a little bit of each - pre book and by the seat of our pants. Depends on the time of year and availability. In the off season, I have run into more problems due to places being closed in rural areas. What I do though, is make a list of potential locations before we leave and take them with me and call and book a day before.

I have found both ways of finding accomacations, and have at times, spent a bit of time finding a place.

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