There is definitely a strategy to booking hotels and lodging when traveling abroad, specifically in Europe. I am sure that there are tons of tips and tricks, but this is what I do and it has seemed to work out really well. I have only travelled in groups of two and three, once with my sisters and twice with my fiancé. Typically, I prefer to stay in hotels, just for ease, but I have also used Airbnb and enjoyed my experience.
Before using any cite I always look into the best places in the city to stay. Whether that is in the city center or on the outskirts in a more residential area. Then, whichever site I use to book, I check the specific hotel to ensure that it is near a transit stop if this is something that is needed in the city. Having an entrance to metro right outside of your hotel is invaluable as it provides easy access to anywhere you want to go. I think it is important to read reviews on location, and the sites I use offer this.
I always begin with Booking.com. I find it easy to use and I like the available features. I search for the city with my tentative dates and number of guests. Once this populates I use filters to narrow down exactly what I want in terms of location, price, property, and review score. I always select options with free cancellation – this is the true beauty of booking.com. Because of this, I am able to book a residence that looks good while continuing to search. If something better pops up I can cancel my original reservation. I cannot count how many times I have done this. It is nice to have something booked ahead of time but I always want to have the option to change my mind if our dates change, or if a gem appears. Speaking of gems, I can say when it comes to hotels I am definitely not a hostel girl. I want my own room and my own bathroom, which is surprisingly a luxury in many places. The majority of places I have stayed in Europe have been above a review score of an 8 (very good) and under $100! Lodging has proven to be an easy way to save some money while staying somewhere nice.
While filtering on booking.com, I always cross reference with Trip Advisor as they have the most comprehensive reviews I have seen. With this I choose the city and dates as well, then I sort by “traveler ranked.” This will tell me the best hotels according to customer reviews. Trip Advisor is one of the most used sites for hotel reviews which creates a large base to pull information from. I like to check the top ten to see if any have great deals and if so I typically end up booking that. Trip Advisor also compares the rates from several hotel booking sites making it easy to see see where the best deal is. So far I have found Booking.com to be the cheapest or a competitively priced with other sites. Even if it is slightly more expensive I like to have everything in one place so I go with Booking.com over any other.
Booking hotels is actually one of my favorite parts of planning a trip; I find it so exciting to find a really nice hotel for a great place. I have been shocked at how amazing the places I have stayed are for under $100! My trips have been off season (fall and winter) so I don’t think prices are as high (except New Years, which has always needed a bigger budget). If I am going to a smaller city, or if the prices are not right, I will check Airbnb as well to see the available offerings– this is also useful with a larger party.
If anyone needs any help booking hotels let me know – I love it!