Skip to main content

Featured

Walking Over Haddon in The Peak District

I confess I'm a fair weather walker, which means I often want to walk on our holidays, but whether we go is always dependent on the weather. I have a Goretex jacket but it's like a talisman. I own it, but I don't want to wear it and I hope vainly that just by having spent so much on it an schlepping it with me that it's going to ward off the rain! As you can see my travel planning involves a good deal of "magical thinking!" In California our cultural exuberance (paired with low standards) means we shamelessly call anything a "hike"  - as if we've scaled Everest in an afternoon. Here in England I'm not sure I even qualify as a "walker" because that denotes a level of seriousness I've failed at previously. Minimally it means you're wearing boots  and have an Ordnance Survey map (and possibly a compass) in your back pocket. I guess I'm more of stroller to be honest and I've blogged about my strolls all over the world; m…

Three Hotel Booking Suggestions from My Travel Toolbox

This summer I've been reviewing my travel toolbox  to ensure I'm using the right resources to get the best hotel rates. I'm pleased to say I've  found a few new favorites. 

If you read the blog, you'll know I'm a big fan of Orbitz.  Over the years I've found outstanding rates by combining their promotional  coupons with credits from their Orbucks program, here's a post on what to do.  Orbitz still a good option, in  July  they had a very competitive price at the Klaus K where we stayed in Helsinki. But it isn't always the best pick,  and this summer I had to use a variety of sites to secure great rates in  Berlin, New York  and Scottsdale. So here are the three additional booking resources I've used recently, it's important to remember that you have to be flexible and persistent to get the best rate. It's good to have a toolbox of tips and ideas to go to, but you also have to be open to reviewing your "bag of tricks" once in a while.
1) Getaroom.com
In Berlin I ended up using an outfit called Getaroom.com  whose best rates were only available by phone. It was like a flash back to calling airline consolidators in the 1990s. Getaroom has limited offer promotional rates that cannot be advertised and they are a great option at the last minute. We were heading to Berlin for eight nights and  unfortunately for us, the first four nights coincided with Fashion Week. No surprise, but it turned out the Fashion Week types like the same trendy, smaller boutique hotel I prefer and so everything  interesting was either very expensive or fully booked :(.

I was trying all sorts of sites I'd never explored before and so I decided to call Getaroom. I immediately asked if they had any promotional rates in Berlin and she was able to offer me an excellent rate  ($222) for a Junior Suite at the Sofitel Gendarmenmarkt.  This was a room overlooking the Gendarmenmarkt so I was sold. It was $100  cheaper than the same room elsewhere AND breakfast was included. It was a great deal and well worth phoning in to check.
2) Kiwi Collection.com - It's all about the perks 
We were   in New York this August and I was looking for a hotel close to the Essex House on Central Park South where  our family were staying. Rates are highly competitive in August because of the ghastly weather and Getaroom offered me a great deal at the Upper Eastside boutique hotel The Surrey ($268) which I've wanted to visited for ages. The only problem was, it isn't near the Essex House where everyone else was staying. 

I looked around and The Quin looked like a good option. Getaroom couldn't offer me a deal and Orbitz wasn't giving me any love, so I needed to widen my search. A quick look at TripAdvisor gave me a good idea of rates but I decided to check out KiwiCollection.com where I got an incredible "private sale" rate at the Banyan Tree in Bangkok a few years ago. Kiwi Advantage supports the  Visa Signature hotel program which offers a range of added amenities at the Quin for those paying with a Visa Signature card. A quick rustle through my wallet and the reservation was made. I'm happy to say we got  a double upgrade, late checkout, a daily $25 room credit and breakfast along with a  favorable rate.  Booking the rate through Kiwiadvantage.com also secured me a $50 Bergdorf gift card. Again, I'm wa shappy camper!
3) Whatahotel.com
As the Kiwi Advantage post shows, booking through the right portal can provide lots of added amenities and I've written about why you should book through a Virtuoso agent or a Four Seasons Preferred Partner before. Booking  even a standard rates through the right channels ensures all sorts of free perks, particularly at high-end properties; breakfast,  upgrades, late checkout, a welcome amenity and often a $100 food and beverage or spa credit. Essentially it's free stuff and you'd be crazy not to take it. Unusually, Whatahotel.com makes these private rates transparent as you can book them right on their website.

We were heading back to the Four Seasons Troon North for our wedding anniversary and there's no way Orbitz, Getaroom, Kiwi Collection, or TripAdvisor can complete with a Four Seasons Preffered Partner like Whatahotel.com. When you're looking at upmarket hotels or resorts you always have to weigh in the value of the free perks. For our August dates you can book a room for $139 on Whatahotel.com and still get all the free stuff detailed above, hard to believe really?
The point is there isn't one place you are always guaranteed the best deal anymore. You need to be flexible and to use a variety of different approaches to ensure you get a favorable rate wherever you are traveling. Once you've picked the hotel I highly recommend going to TripAdvisor to get a general idea of costs, then check the coupons at Orbitz, call Getaroom to see if they have any unadvertised rates and if you're looking at a higher end property try Whatahotel.com, Kiwi Collection  and Chase Fine Hotels and Resorts to see if you can combine a great rate with the added values they offer. It's a lot of trouble, but it's the way we end up in the best places at the cheapest prices, plus those fee upgrades, breakfasts and credits reduce the size of your bill at check out.

Tip: Email the hotel before you arrive and request the kind of room you prefer directly, high floor away from the elevator, King bed, that kind of thing. Getting the right room can make a great deal of difference and it's easier for them to block it out ahead of time. Always let them know if you are celebrating a special occasion, birthday, anniversary etc. 

Comments

EXPLORE POPULAR POSTS BELOW...