Finding and booking the perfect hotels for your European trip should be an easy task, right? After all, isn’t the Internet easy to research and book with confidence?
Yes and no. It has never been easier to get information about hotels around the world, but you can fall prey to hotel marketers, difficult websites and other travelers.
Here are five tips that will make hotel research more efficient and cheaper to travel.
Tip 1: Be careful with online hotel reviews!
Many travel websites offer hotel reviews submitted by readers. While most reviews are probably legitimate, we always recommend approaching these reviews with a healthy dose of skepticism. You do not know who sent this review, or why they are sent.
For example, returning visitors are very concerned about writing an opinion on something M-A-D. They are often accused of a frustrating experience that is not the fault of a hotel.
Furthermore, a hotel owner may “run away” with a malicious anonymous reviewer and not be detected. Conversely, hotel owners can give bright opinions. You do not know where these opinions come from.
Tip 2: Don’t mix hotel “discounts” with good deals!
On some reserve websites, you will be excited to use great discounts; sometimes as high as 50%! Be skeptical.
When they join some hotel websites, they have to compete with other hotels to get their attention. One of the ways at the top of the list is to offer the biggest discount.
Guess what’s going on? Hotels first inflate their regular rates, then turn those prices down and “lower” them to offer a room at “50% !!!” But no one would ever pay that “normal” price! It is a hoax, however this hotel is at the top of the list.
When you see deep discount claims, shop around and see what kind of trend hotel you are looking for.
Tip 3: Chain yourself!
When looking for smaller, independent hotels, you will often find more interesting, better-located and cheaper hotels!
Large reserve websites often prefer to deal with, register and manage huge chains. If you search only on large sites, you won’t even know small hotels!
In many old European cities, strict zoning laws prohibit modern construction on their historic sites. This is why giant chain hotels (not luxury ones) are on the edge of town, while cheap small hotels are located in old buildings in the middle of the action.
Spend time hunting independent hotels away! Venere.com, Booking.com and EuroCheapo.com (the ones I edit) list smaller websites, European-based websites, smaller listings, non-chain stores, and family-friendly hotels.
Tip # 4: Check that double hotel rate!
Call the hotel to check prices before booking online, as you may find it cheaper.
Booking websites charge the hotel a commission for making reservations. To cover this, many hotels charge an extra charge for the price of an “online” room, thereby inflating the price.
Try searching for the hotel phone number and double check the prices! It can be very difficult because most websites do not provide you with the hotel phone number. After all, they want to book through them!
And don’t worry about not being able to speak the language! Almost all hosts in Europe can at least speak English to see the prices for you.
Tip 5: Be careful when booking.
When we are researching hotel prices, we often come across popular booking websites that show the price of the hotel, but reveal a much higher total price when you are ready to enter your credit card information.
How can they do this? Here are some of their favorite tricks:
They wait until the last minute to reveal local taxes (which can be very high in Europe and are always part of the price!).
Another tactic is to deal with the “service fee”, which is already charging 10% commission from the hotel!
More rigorously, they are inventing some business around a “security fee”. Win, anyone?
We recommend booking only through pre-booking websites.
Next step: Book with confidence.
As time has passed on some of the tricks of the trade, you are better equipped to research and book. And don’t forget to have fun! After all, you’re on a European adventure! Have a good trip!