Monday, September 27, 2010

Vacation Planning-Hotel Deals, Beyond the norm

Hotel's are a necessity for many families on vacation. Beyond the chain hotels, where else should I look?

First things first. For me.....HOTELS ARE NOT THE DESTINATION. Hotels are nothing more then a bed, and if your lucky or I should say, if you are good, a free breakfast.

Starting with a search engine is a great place to start. Trip Advisor and Virtual Tourist are our favorite sites to search for hotels. We have also used to search for specifically hostil type hotels.

Trip Advisor
This is a great site for reviews of any hotels you are looking into. People that have stayed at that hotel rate location, cleanliness....etc. Some people list rates that they got at that hotel. When my husband and I backpacked through Europe,
all the name brand hotels were way out of our price range. My husband and I used Trip Advisor to find a cheap hotel every place we went. One that we found and settled on in London was The Wellington. The location was AMAZING. It was walking distance to Big Ben, Parliament and Victoria station and the Victoria train stop.
In Prague we chose the U Melounu hostel (translates to "The Watermelon"). We were able to pay for a private room at a fraction of the price we would have paid elsewhere. The location was a little out of the way, but for the price we paid, we gladly walked where we wanted to go and we also took the city bus.
Our most recent awesome deal was in Australia where we stayed at the Hides Hotel in Cairns (gateway to the Great Barrier Reef). This hotel was another one with AMAZING location. Right in the city center in the middle of a walking mall just West of the docks.

, all 3 of the above hotels were "shared bathrooms". (Very popular in Europe) Which means it's set up like a dorm would be here. Rooms which have sinks, a TV and a mini fridge (if you are lucky) and the bathroom and showers are located down the hall. When we first booked our "shared bathroom" room, I was a little nervous. Sharing a bathroom with the entire floor? ~I was not excited. But I soon realized that I usually had the bathroom to myself and would only occasionally see another person in the restroom at the same time. My room had a mirror and sink so I could get ready in the morning without using the community bathrooms.
**All 3 hotels also had a complimentary breakfast which means we didn't have to waste time in the morning looking for a place to eat, we woke up, ate and hit the city to see the sites.

Dorm rooms

I have also read that universities that are off season or on vacation often offer their dorms for rent for very reasonable prices. It would definitely be worth a phone call or email to the university housing department to ask if they do that.

Family and Friends
Think outside the box when looking for chain hotel deals. We are luck and have family that work in the hotel industry. If you have any friends that are in the hotel industry, they can often get a "friends"'s worth calling your contact and checking into it.
Next week we are staying in a hotel on the campus of our Alma Matter. When I booked the room I asked if they had an "alumni" discount. They did. Our rate went from $79 a night to $64 a night.........because I asked....too bad they don't offer discount Football tickets too! ☺

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