When planning a trip yourself, one of the big pieces of planning is finding accommodations. Some people do not like to reserve their accommodations in advance to allow themselves to adapt their trip according to their desires of the moment but know that it is always possible to find accommodation with free cancellation, which leaves you the opportunity to change your route on a shot of head heart during your trip. I will, therefore, in what follows, give you my advice to find the best accommodation according to your criteria, your tastes and, of course, your budget!
There are 3 main ways to make an accommodation reservation:
1. Knowing a particular hotel chain (for example Holiday Inn), you will find a hotel of this banner in the city you will visit and book by phone directly with the hotel.
2. Through a travel agent.
3. By using the different websites search for accommodation and make your reservation directly on the website.
If you’ve read my previous articles, you may be starting to understand how I plan my trips, and you probably know that options # 3 is the one I favor. It is also the latter that I will elaborate in this article. Personally, I see only advantages to do my own research on the various specialized websites and reserving myself via these same sites. I do not consider it more stressful to do the research and booking on your own. On the contrary, I feel that I have more control over my final choice. With the simplicity of websites, it is now very easy to find a shoe to his feet in terms of accommodation and make reservations.
The different benefits of managing everything yourself are:
1. See all available choices. Yes, it is true that with a travel agency they certainly listen to your needs and requirements, but you will not necessarily see all the possibilities that would be offered to you if you ever decide not to have breakfast included. With a travel agency, they will make some proposals according to pre-established criteria (example: free parking, breakfast included, etc.), but you will not see all the offers available (paid parking, no breakfast understood, etc.).
2. Target his research fairly precisely according to his tastes and budget. Some sites have tons of filters available to get the very best options according to their criteria. And we can easily adjust certain conditions (budget or another element) to find the ideal accommodation.
3. Some booking sites offer you benefits when you become a regular user of the site. For example, with Booking.com, if you book a minimum of 10 nights per year on their website, you become a “Genius” customer and you have additional discounts, privilege offers (for Genius customers only) and others advantages.
4. You can rely on other travelers’ opinions to make your choice. The opinions of other travelers are, in my experience, an important criterion to consider. Many accommodation search sites have a filter allowing you to find homes with a minimum average rating (the one you want). In this way, the lowest-rated accommodations are automatically removed from the result of your search.
Here are some examples of websites to do your accommodation research:
During the planning of my past trips, I mainly used Booking Booking sites and sometimes Expedia. I recently used the site Airbnb, but I have not yet made my stay in the booked accommodation. When it’s done, I’ll give you an account of my experience.
To date, Booking.com remains my favorite search tool. First, the website is easy to use. What I prefer is the panoply of filters available to do very targeted searches. I can thus find more easily what corresponds to my conditions. Another advantage of booking is that it is possible to create an account and receive notifications when prices have fallen for the destination and dates.
As mentioned earlier in the article, when you book 10 nights or more per year on you become a “Genius” customer and you have several additional benefits. Also, the prices displayed are clear and there is no surprise at the final payment. There is often a tourist tax per person per night to pay and sometimes a cleaning fee (during an apartment stay). These additional amounts are clearly indicated under the room description.
The Booking site has more than 15 different types of filters, including the price, the number of stars for a hotel, the district/district (location), the equipment (kitchenette, parking, swimming pool, WiFi, etc.). free cancellation or not, and much more!
To help you focus your searches, here are the main filters that I use on the site of Booking and which are very useful to find the ideal accommodation. Of course, these filters are the ones I use, so some may not apply to you or other filters may be better suited to your needs.
• The price/night.
• The note of the comments: I always select note of 8/10 or more. So, I am rarely disappointed.
• The free cancellation (sometimes there is no extra charge for the free cancellation, so often I select it and if the price of the proposed accommodation is not in my budget, I remove this filter and relaunch the research). The free cancellation offers the luxury of changing the itinerary of your trip at the last minute.
• The type of establishment (in my case I like apart-hotels and apartments or otherwise hotels).
• The breakfast included (if I needed a hotel).
• The free parking (if necessary). If there is no choice available with free parking according to my budget, I select Parking tout court.
• The free WiFi (although today almost all accommodations in North America and Europe offer WiFi for free).
When all my filters are selected, I start the search. I can then click on the map to see the location of each accommodation that came out in the search results. I can thus see the geographical location of the accommodations and target even more precisely my choices, according to the districts of the city. For example, if in Paris I want to stay close to Notre Dame Cathedral, I will select the accommodations located around Île de la Cité.
One important thing is that I read carefully all the guest reviews for the accommodations that seem to be the most interesting. The reason is that the feedbacks of other travelers give me a better idea of the quality of the accommodation contrary to the number of stars which, in my opinion, do not give enough information on the cleanliness of the room, the quality of the service, geographical location, etc.