Finding and booking the perfect hotels for your upcoming Europe trip should be an easy task, right? After all, hasn’t the internet made it easier to research and book with confidence?
Yes and no. It’s never been easier to get information about hotels around the world, but it can be easy to fall into the traps set by hotel marketers, tough websites, and even other travelers.
Here are five tips that will make your hotel search more efficient and your travel more affordable.
Tip 1: Be wary of online hotel reviews!
Many travel sites offer hotel reviews submitted by readers. While most of these reviews are probably legitimate, we recommend that you always approach them with a healthy dose of skepticism. You never know who posted this review or why.
For example, many returning visitors bother to write a review only when they are MAD about something. They usually blame a hotel for a frustrating experience that isn’t the hotel’s fault.
Also, a hotel owner can “fire” a competing hotel with a bad anonymous review and run unnoticed. Conversely, hotel owners can give themselves brilliant reviews. You never know who these reviews are coming from.
Tip 2: Don’t confuse hotel “discounts” with good deals!
On certain booking websites, you may be excited to find available hotels with heavily discounted rates – sometimes up to 50%! be skeptical.
When hotels partner with certain websites, they have to compete with other hotels for your attention. One way to top the list is to offer the biggest discount.
Guess what? Hotels first inflate their regular prices, then “50% off!!!” returns to offer a room, and that “reduces” the prices. But no one could afford to pay this “normal” price! It’s a scam, but that hotel is at the top of the list.
When you see great discount claims, shop around and see and compare what’s reasonable for the type of hotel you’re looking for.
Tip #3: Unchain your chain!
When you search for smaller independent hotels you will often find more interesting, better located and cheaper hotels!
Large booking websites often prefer to deal with large chains as they are easier to sign up and manage. If you only search the big sites, you won’t even know that smaller hotels exist!
In many old European cities, strict zoning laws prohibit modern construction in their historic centres. This is why large chain hotels (non-luxury) tend to be on the fringes of the city, while many cheaper smaller hotels are located in old buildings right in the middle of the action.
Spend your time researching the independent hotels out there! Smaller, European-focused websites like Venere.com, Booking.com, and EuroCheapo.com (which I edit) list smaller, non-chain and family-run hotels.
Tip #4: Double check this hotel price!
Call the hotel to confirm prices before booking online as you may find a cheaper rate.
Reservation websites charge a commission from the hotel for reservations. To compensate for this, many hotels place an additional charge on their “online” room rate, thereby inflating the price.
Try to find the phone number of the hotel and double check the prices! This can be quite difficult as most websites do not give you the hotel phone number. After all, they want you to book through them!
And don’t worry about not being able to speak the language! Almost all hotel receptionists in Europe can speak at least enough English to check prices for you.
Tip #5: Beware of extra charges when booking.
When researching hotel rates, we often come across well-known booking websites that show a hotel price at first, but then a much higher total price when you’re ready to enter your full credit card details.
How can they do this? Here are some of their favorite tricks:
They wait until the last minute to explain local taxes (which can be very high in Europe and are always part of the price!).
Another tactic is to charge a “service fee” even though they charge up to 10% commission from the hotel!
Even more shamelessly, they invent something about a “security fee”. Take advantage, anyone?
We recommend making reservations only through reservation websites that show all costs in advance.
Next step: Book with confidence.
Now that we’ve taken the time to review some of the tricks of the trade, you’re better equipped to research and book with confidence. And don’t forget to have fun! After all, you’re going on a European adventure! Have a good journey!