Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hotel Reviews in Europe

Our trip to London and Italy was one of the few times we have ever reserved accommodations ahead of time on our travels. Usually we fly by the seat of our pants and rely pretty heavily on guide books, but there is so much information out there on the internet it seemed like a shame not to use it. As everyone knows, you do have to read online reviews with a grain of salt. We certainly stay on the budget side of things, so you do sometimes have to be careful not to end up in a place that has pay by the hour rates or is just plain old crappy. For many of the budget hotels we looked at in Italy, some of the negative reviews really cracked me up. There were three recurring complaints, which based on the language, were mostly written by Europeans:

  1. The room was small. I can't believe this is something budget travelers complain about.
  2. Did not have a lift (or lift was broken). Buildings in Europe are OLD (to Americans). This should not surprise anyone.
  3. Breakfast did not have: eggs, ham, fresh fruit, yogurt, you name it, European budget travelers are apparently quite picky about their complimentary breakfast. My FAVORITE breakfast complaint review was "The breakfast was not very good, although not as bad as American hotel."
The reviews just cracked me up because I wanted to say to every single one of them "WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FOR $37/NIGHT??" Obviously, none of these things bother us. We travel with backpacks, it hardly matters if the room is larger than a double bed or that we have to carry our bags up a few flights of stairs. Breakfast? Total bonus. Also, breakfast is a cheap meal if you do have to eat out.

The things that I do take note of in reviews are things like: the toilet/window/lock was broken and the hotel staff couldn't/wouldn't fix it or things about terrible customer service. Those are deal breakers for me.

The hotel we stayed at in London had worn out carpet and furnishings, but you know what? It was completely perfect for the price we paid, given that it was two blocks away from the South Kensington Tube Station (it didn't hurt that they upgraded us to a nicer room for free - it gets 5 stars for customer service from me).

In Venice I found a heck of a deal on Kayak.com. I ended up on some booking website that I was only 50% convinced was legit. But, turned out it was and we got a pretty nice room, a Jacuzzi tub, and breakfast (eggs, ham, yogurt, and fresh fruit included!) for what we paid for okay places in other cities.

I'm not sure if we'll book ahead again in the future or go back to flying by the seat of our pants, but it turned out well for Italy (some places we only booked a day or two ahead).

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