TIPS: Finding Accommodation
Links for FINDING ACCOMMODATION
Nevermind American Express – I won’t leave home without Trip Advisor. I don’t think I’ve travelled anywhere in the last 5 years without consulting this site. You should too.
TIP #1: I like to go through the ‘bad’ reviews of hotels, because it’s easy to see who the chronic complainers and whiners are, versus the postings that reflect a real problem. Another good sign is if the management of the property (however large or small) responds to the negative posts. If they sound grumpy and resentful, I’d say steer clear!
TIP #2: Search for reviews from likeminded travellers. After all, what a 22 year-old backpacker considers ‘awesome accommodations’ or an ‘easy hike’ may not be what you’re looking for.
BOOK-AHEAD OR LAST MINUTE
This site has everything from treehouses to 5-star hotel chains, and everything in between. The rankings are all based on user reviews (no hotels are permitted to contribute here), and the really interesting thing is that they also have a search filter that drills down into user experiences and rankings for everything from hotels with great beer to proximity to monuments. I’ve used it for same night, late night bookings at motels and B&Bs and I love the stay-now-pay-later policy. Plus I hear they have great customer service, although I never had to find out – which is a good thing!
TIP: It’s often cheaper to book online vs walking into a hotel to book at the desk, as we were advised by one hotel in Moncton, who directed us to booking.com for a better rate. The reservation took about 45 minutes to process through to their front desk, but it was well worth the wait.
PRIVATELY-OWNED HOMES & APARTMENTS
I’ve used this for booking studio apartments in Amsterdam and Italy and although it requires a lot of eyeballing online, (and knowing your way around the city will certainly help narrow the options), I’ve had a lot of success with this.
Probably the most popular site for this sort of thing, with thousands of properties pretty much everywhere.
TIP: Be aware that these are individuals offering up their properties, not companies, and you use this site at your own risk. If you’re not comfortable with the terms that the owners want for payment, for example, move on. There are lots of other places out there.
If you love Italy, this is a site that caters only to rental properties in Italy. We’ve used them for finding apartments in Rome, and love the search filters by price and neighbourhood.
This is owned by Trip Advisor (so you know there’s some credibility here) starting with a staff member who verifies the owners and the reviews.
Part of Booking.com (so again, some reassurance here), this is all about villas, large or small. Don’t think you need to have a group of 8 or more to make this work.
LOOKING FOR APARTMENTS IN COLOMBIA?
If you are planning a visit to Medellin, Cartagena, Bogotà or Cali and are looking for an apartment to rent, this company offers properties to suit every taste or budget. And since the founder is American, the process is easy thanks to their bilingual staff. (If you’re thinking of buying a property of your own, they can help with that, too!)
AGGREGATE SITES (search multi-sites at once)
Compare regular and private home rental sites all in one place.
I haven’t used this site yet, but I’m dying to! If you are like me and like quirky and interesting places to stay, this might just be the site for you. At the very least, it’s fun to look.
UNIQUE AND BOUTIQUE (not necessarily cheap)
This site won’t even post places that are multi-property chains. It’s all about the one-offs, the unique and truly boutique. But while there are some relative ‘bargains’ to be found here, this is not one for the frugalistas.
A favourite with travellers visiting countries in Asia and Southeast Asia, agoda is the go-to site for bookings in that part of the world. But they also offer properties around the globe.
If you are a control freak like I am, this may not be the perfect site for you, since it’s a blind auction and you won’t know exactly where you’re staying or what the accommodations are really like until you’ve paid. And if you don’t like it, it’s too late to change your mind. That being said, I’ve had some pretty successful experiences when I’ve used this to book into NYC and Boston on several occasions.
TIP: Booking weekend stays in the financial districts of these cities seemed to be a good plan and netted us Hiltons for a fraction of the cost. I guess the bankers all decamp when the weekend arrives!
FOR WHEN YOU NEED A ROOM TONIGHT
When there’s no time to waste, and you need to lay your head down NOW, try this app. But you’ll probably get the best deals on higher-end hotels, and these prices are usually for a single night. But in a pinch, this gives you real-time solutions when you are too tired to waste a lot of time.
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