The number of platforms dedicated to travels are increasing, especially the ones that offers the way to find and buy plane tickets, holidays and hotel reservations. I have to say that they are useful, but are the deals convenient? Generally there are good rates offered, but if you compare them with the proposals present on the hotel websites you can be surprised with better prices or with some extra benefits as the free minibar with soft drinks, the complimentary transfer and so on.
Many hotels complain about the platforms because they are useful to support the different structures helping them to occupy all the rooms, but they ask for an high commission. Also some hotels are not present on those websites. It is then easy to establish a cooperation between the companies that are managing the travel and booking sites, so they can find the way to have a deal and give less advantages to customers.
The same problem happens with flights, when you search for a ticket you just compare thousands websites and meanwhile your reserch become part of the site data, so if you go back to the same page, you will see an higher price. This tricks are common and well known, but in last period Google started to offer a new service. You can directly directly on Google Flights about the connnection you need and the prices. I noticed in the past months that generally there are always the higher prices.
Today I red an article on The Scottish Sun that describes how the improved Google Flight app reveals to readers if the flight and hotel fares are a good deal or not. The journalist underline the opportunity that you have receiving the alerts from Google when the price decrease. With some graphics you can check how the rate goes and the app helps to recognize the best offers using the colours about “cold” and the “hot” fares.
The application works for flights and hotels and I have to say that the service provided is really better than the past, but I have still few doubts. For instance I saw that they also propose the best deals on business class, but of course the cheapest fares are referred to the connections with the stopover, so you need to stay around the world more time before to arrive at your destination.
Meanwhile I was reading the article and checking the new app it cames to my mind the Austrian Airlines promotion, started few years ago and not only one among the airline companies. With your economy ticket you can bid an upgrade to business class. You make an offer and if it will be accepted, according to the amount and the different bids received, they can decide if accept and let you travel in business class with a bit more than what you spent for the economy ticket.
We all know that to find the best deals we need to check the dates, try to change them, to try to change airport, to make the reservation in a specific day of the week and so on. I agree with all tricks, but since the algorithms are changing so fast, I generally keep always in mind these advices, but I always prefer compare the official websites of the hotels and of the airline companies, deleting the computer chronology step by step to non influence the sites and their results, with the different bookingservices.
Is booking a five-star hotel a dream or an illusion? Before to reserve your room in the most fabulous hotel ever, you should know a few things. I want to explain to you how the rating works and give you some tips. There is a bit of history and quite a lot of experience and knowledge. I will make you aware of the five-star hotels so you will be completely conscious to choose.
Five stars indicate a high-level resort and it is also a term that defines luxury. Do you know how a hotel get the stars? I am going to explain this because if you want to sleep in a great hotel, you need to be aware of reality. I think you already know that in each country you can find a five-star hotel with totally different features and luxury level. Why? Let me go step by step into the topic.
Today to travel is an easy experience for many people, but in the past, it was generally more expensive and more difficult. The number of travelers increased in the last century and this gave a new idea to important companies. Think about the Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Guide or to the Michelin Guide. They wrote some books with information and tips about destinations, hotels, restaurants and about all what is needed by a tourist. In 1958 Forbes had a Travel Guide, at that time called Mobil Travel Guide, and the staff invented the term “five-star”
That was the origin fo the five-star rating system. Quickly and easily other guides started to use it and now it is common for all of us. But now we don’t have any international system yet. That is why you can see huge differences between European, American, African, Asian five-stars hotel. Each country makes an evaluation and the features are always different, also the level. Have you ever been to a five-star hotel in a country that it can be like a three-star hotel in your country? To me happened and that is why the raring is never the only criteria you should use.
How is the hotel rating?
You as a traveler go in an Italian five-star hotel and inside you find a gourmet restaurant. Then you go to Indonesia and there is no gourmet restaurant in your five-star hotel. This example shows how can be difficult to rate a hotel, especially without a common way of act. The problem is also to sizing the big and the small hotel or to measure the features of a family hotel and the ones of a big chain. How can you compare them and decide what are the main elements that give more or fewer stars? How can you give to tourists concrete help to choose the best accommodation?
These questions need an answer from the World Hotel Rating Project. After a lot of work made by experts on the international level, there isn’t yet a solution. Somehow the failed and now we still have the same problem. What we can affirm now is that the stars, how it happens for restaurants, came from opinions.
Of course, there are procedures and experts with the task to make the evaluation, but mostly it depends on their opinion. In some countries, Italy especially, the number of stars depends also on the fiscal system. Now everything is related to rank properties, or at least it is what the travel industry does.
What about lobbies, restaurants, comfortable beds and customer services? If you want to book a five-star hotel now, you need to know that the criteria are different region by region. Each country has specific rules, but we can sometimes consider a bigger area as it happens in Europe. As an example, I post here the table with the rating established by Hotrec, the umbrella organization that groups 39 associations from 24 countries. This is the biggest association in all Europe and they evaluate hotels, restaurants, and cafes.
Catalogue of criteria
- 100% of the rooms with shower/WC or bath tub/WC - Daily room cleaning - 100% of the rooms with colour-TV together with remote control - Table and chair - Soap or body wash - Reception service - Facsimile at the reception - Publicly available telephone for guests - Extended breakfast - Beverage offer in the hotel - Deposit possibility
The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The bathroom facilities are usually at the same level as for two stars hotels but built from cheaper materials. The cost for regular inspection by independent associations is waived as well.
In addition to the single star (*) hotels: - Breakfast buffet - Reading light next to the bed - Bath essence or shower gel - Bath towels - Linen shelves - Offer of sanitary products (e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving kit) - Credit Cards
The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The Standard-Superior does usually offer the same service level as three-star hotels but the interiors of the hotel are smaller and cheaper so that the three stars were not to be awarded by the inspection body. A two-star superior does not require mystery guesting.
In addition to the standard star (**) hotels: - Reception opened 14 hours, accessible by phone 24 hours from inside and outside, bilingual staff (e.g. German/English) - Three piece suite at the reception, luggageservice - Beverage offer in the room - Telephone in the room - Internet access in the room or in the public area - Heating facility in the bathroom, hair-dryer, cleansing tissue - Dressing mirror, place to put the luggage/suitcase - Sewing kit, shoe polish utensils, laundry and ironing service - Additional pillow and additional blanket on demand - Systematic complaint management system
The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The accommodation facilities for a superior hotel need to be on a modern level and fully renovated which is checked regularly.
In addition to the comfort star (***) hotels: - Reception opened 18 hours, accessible by phone 24 hours from inside and outside - Lobby with seats and beverage service - Breakfast buffet or breakfast menu card via room service - Minibar or 24 hours beverages via room service - Upholstered chair/couch with side table - Bath robe and slippers on demand - Cosmetic products (e.g. shower cap, nail file, cotton swabs), vanity mirror, tray of a large scale in the bathroom - Internet access and internet terminal - "À la carte"-restaurant
First Class Superior
The Superior flag is provided when the first class hotel has a proven high quality not only in the rooms. The superior hotels provide for additional facilities in the hotel like a sauna or a workout room. The quality is checked regularly by mystery guesting of an external inspection service.
In addition to the first class (****) hotels: - Reception opened 24 hours, multilingual staff - Doorman-service or valet parking - Concierge, page boy - Spacious reception hall with several seats and beverage service - Personalized greeting for each guest with fresh flowers or a present in the room - Minibar and food and beverage offer via room service during 24 hours - Personal care products in flacons - Internet-PC in the room - Safe in the room - Ironing service (return within 1 hour), shoe polish service - Turndown service in the evening - Mystery guesting
The Luxury star hotels need to attain high expectations of an international guest service. The Superior Luxury star is only awarded with a system of intensive guest care.
What about six-star hotels? They do not exist in the European ranking and if you take a look in the various countries, you can get the same result.
If you want to know more about the catalog of criteria, you can have your copy here.
The doubts of a traveler
When you search for a five-star hotel you generally do it online. All the review websites use the five-star system and this means that also the reviewer gives stars to the structure. From one to five. This makes again the confusion, especially because you see stars everywhere on the website and you don’t know about the real ranking. There are always opinions. Some done by experts, some others by guests, with their criteria and knowledge, and also some wrote by competitors.
Take into consideration that the review represents only how much a person liked the hotel. It has no relation to the level of luxury of the hotel. You have any way to move into the world of luxuryhotels and the travel industries. It includes tourists. So let me give you some advice. From the research to the reservation.
Use Booking.com to reserve a five-star hotel
Many people are going to check TripAdvisor. It is good to read a lot of opinions, but not all of them are real. Why? It is open to everyone, you can insert a review after some months and the system does not verify them deeply. Booking.com or similar platforms are asking and accepting reviews only from who booked a room and stayed at the hotel. Plus there is a limited period to write the opinion. So they are more real.
Of course, keep in mind that anyway, the evaluation is very personal. Your criteria can be different. You can also compare pictures and read comments left by business travelers, group, families and so on. With filters, it is easier to focus on the most relevant reviews for you. Also, travel blogs can help you, but be careful, because some posts are sponsored, so the advice is paid.
Check the rating
The most important thing is the rating. If you want to book a five-star hotel now, focus on the source. Check the country rating system. I know that it is bad, but also not all the countries have a very well organized procedure. So Hotrec in Europe or AAA’s in the USA, for example, are more reliable than the organizations of certain regions. In Italy, Spain, and Belgium the hotel stars are regulated by the law. This is safer for you.
Be in touch with the hotel
After the research online you can have some doubts, so the best way to clarify them is to talk to the hotel. Call the staff, ask your questions about offers, amenities, and facilities. An alternative writes an email to them. You will obtain two results: the information you want and the service quality. Their way to answer, their speed, the details give you a precise idea on how they work. This helps you to understand the level. Believe me, the real five-star hotel is recognizable.
Take care of the details
Do you want to stay in a five-star hotel? Pay attention to the details. Luxury doesn’t reside in the overly fancy, like a big flat screen or a big bottle of champagne and so on. Everything can be found in the tailor-made service and also in the personalized touch. A well-furnished room shows a particular artwork or the last design object, high-quality toiletries and so on. So check the setting of a room by pictures and description.
The hotel features
The reservation process is giving you a precise idea of the hotel. If you have difficulties and if they are not able to face and to solve problems, it is a bad sign. It will be the beginning of a nightmare that can continue during your stay. About breakfast, the point for a five-star hotel isn’t the cost. You have to check the quality and the variety of food. They have to provide sweet and salty food, freshly made and in enough quantity to serve the clients. If they have a restaurant and they bake directly it means that your hotel is ready to give you a five-star stay.
WiFi is not always provided for free, but if the price is so high, maybe you should consider another hotel. It is important also the spa and the quality of it is already visible from the hotel website. Pictures are not so important, except for some details, but the list of the amenities, of the treatments and the description of the service give you feedback. Of course, when you are there you can immediately notice if there are differences. That is why it is good to read carefully and ask directly to the structure. It is always hard to express high quality if you don’t have it. Because it is a matter of style.
In the end, I can confirm that there aren’t rules to evaluate a hotel. That is why public opinion becomes very important. You can also use social pages as Twitter to search for a review, just keep in mind the real value of them. The last tip is: don’t trust a too low price. Also, a five-star hotel needs the client to avoid an empty room, so it offersdiscounts.
But they can’t be so huge. If the rate is too much convenient there are different reasons. Among them: the quality of the hotel isn’t high, they give you the worst room (also in this case the hotel isn’t a luxury one) or there are some tricks. Be careful. Now you are anyway more aware of a five-star hotel and you can choose better.
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In last year Booking.com improve its activity offering new experiences to its customers. I am exploring the various services provided by the platform and I discovered that Booking Experiences are not only in the U.S., but also in other countries, as mine: Italy. In Milan, Venice and Florence using the app of the hotel search engine I can buy tickets, use fast track in the museums and get some other discounts in the city. This is reserved to all clients of the company who reserve a room.
Tours and activities can be personalized. The functionalities are developed by the Booking Holdings-owned brand and they were firstly developed in certain destinations as Amsterda, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore. Now it is possible to enjoy the experiences in USA and in Italy also. To use the opportunity you need to book an hotel in one of the cities where the “experiences” are active and download the app. It is not finished. Continue to read and I will explain all the details to use it.
How it works
When you complete the reservation of your accomodation on Booking.com, you get an e-mail with a link post-booking that directs to a personalized landing page. You find the different option concerning the tours, the activities and the local attractions. There is a QR code that you can use to obtain discounts for museums and tours tickets. You don’t need to do anything special, just use the code when you buy the experience. Of course the conditiones and the type of activity are different in each city. In USA you can try the service in many places, included New York, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Make unique your stay
You can surely join the classical and traditional activities proposed generally by all agencies, like museums entrance and so on. But you can expect something more. Booking.com offers more, because a traveller is not only a tourist. The reason to go somewhere is not only to see monuments, but also to attend to a special events. Through the app with your QR code you can benefit of unique experiences.
For example you will be part of a special show of an important artist. As it happened with the Grammy-nominated DJ Khaled, few months ago. Some lucky people, thanks to Booking.com, have been to one stage of the tour with also the meet and greet session. The service is available in more than 60 cities around the world and you can easily find your unique experience.
Meanwhile I write this post to share with you this special think that I discovered on Booking.com, they are working to create new experiences and also to increase the number of the cities participating. So try it and check what are the best offers of the moment. Christmas is coming, maybe it can be the proper way to give a unique trip with a special experience to the people you love.
Booking.com is one of the most known hotel search engines of the world. It is not the only one, but one of the most complete that you can find. Most of the people, me too, don’t use it to reserve a room, but tho get inspiration. How? Thanks to the filters and to many options regarding the amenities to choose, it is possible to have a list of the best hotels. “Best” according to our own criterias. Infact in the website it is possible to search selecting a lot of options.
As I wrote a couple of days ago in a post about hotels search, this is a time-consuming activity. You have to list the structures, then select the ones that offer you the best conditions. It is not only a matter of price, but you want a good location, close to the main attractions or at least near the public transportation stations. You need included breakfast, free WiFi in the room and so on. Each of us has different wish and paying the bill we have some expectations.
The reasons to use booking
Why is Booking.com, if you want the best deals online, your starting point? Because it helps you to save money and support you in the fast research. With few steps you can find the ideal hotel. I think that you really want to save time and money. That is why I am going to explain you how you can use efficiently the website and get exactly what you are searching for. If these aspects are essential for you, this engine is the solution. Because it is trustworthy than others and it easy to navigate, more than others. The intuitive steps in the menu requires few minutes to insert all your choice and have the list of the structers that answers to your criterias.
Surely you already tried the platform, but are you sure to know very well about the different types of accomodation available? I want to give you some tips. So you will be aware about the opportunity that Booking.com gives to all of us. As a traveller I really need to optimie my time in organizeing my trips and as well to find the best service that can support me. To be more clear I am going to make some examples, trying to be concrete and practical.
Hotel or apartment?
As you know reading my posts I love luxury, so I generally search for high level hotels. This means to be available to spend a certain amount of money, but not more than enough. I can have good services for a reasonable price. Anyway not in all countries is is possible to find the same condition and also the same rating with stars. So I nedd to compare the hotels and to see what they offer. So I can mix the results and catch the best deal. Booking.com shows hotels and also other types of accomodation. For example you can rent a luxury apartment for a cheap price and have some hotel services offered by the owners.
Thanks to the variety of accomodation types you can consider a different way to spend your holiday. You can easily book a room in a B&B, a villa or a boat. Yes, Booking has also that option. It is really easy and immediate to reserve your stay online in very few steps. There are also the main hotel chains and you can choose the best deals regarding a huge variety of rooms and suites.
Before to go deep into the tips, I think it is good to list the reasons why you should start to use Booking.com. These must be added to the main elements mentioned before.
Thanks to the hotel search engine you have at your service:
Over one million properties world-wide to guarantee you the chance to compare and to find the best deals on your next accomodation
You can book immediately and then pay at the hotel
The staff is going to ask and accept reviews only from who booked and stayed at the property. This means that you can’t find the fake opinions made on other websites. I suggest always to read them carefully because each of us has different standards, but surely those are real opinions by real customers. The process for the evaluation of the property is strict and checked in all the stages.
Now it is time to make the examples I want to specify that I decided to become an affiliate of Booking.com. So if you book a room through my links, I will get a small commission, meanwhile you will have the best deals without any other cost. Why? Firstly I chosen it, so I did by my own because I had the chance to try it personally and to notice what I am writing here. With very few exceptions I reserved my hotels and apartments through this platform. My advice comes from other experience. In the other side, as you already know, I am just using some ads to revover the costs of the domain.
Closed to the main attractions, in the heart of the city and with many amenities available, like airport shuttle, free cable TV, laundry facilities, 24-hour reception, a minibar, and coffee machine. I ticked the different options starting from “Luxury hotels“, five stars, breakfast included, free Wifi. You can easily choose the type of hotel ( family, business, romantic, beach…) and then select the amenities that you want.
In Italy there aren’t some many motels, meanwhile they are present everywhere in USA. It happens time to time to use them, especially the ones close to the airport or to the main roads. You can sleep there and start again to continue your journey. These type of accomodation is not the best deal only for the location, but also because it is budget friendly. This means that you can have a clean room with good amenities without spending a huge amount of money.
Mostly depends on the management, because some of them apply highers rate giving more facilities and services. Anyway on Booking.com you can select the best ones ticking from the menu the amenities that you are searching for. It can be WiFi, breakfast, air conditioned, car parking. It depends on you. You can easily check the location and compare the different motels.
The vacation houses
This type of rental involve private owners who wants to monetize their property hosting tourists and travellers. It is possible to rent on a short or long-term basis. They are on Booking.com to get more visibility and to easily get reservations. The vacation houses can be homes, condos, lodges or cabins. The common element is made by the comforts of home proposed by these accomodations.
If you like to explore the local culture and to stay in touch with inhabitants, you should consider the option of homestay. It means to choose an accomodation that gives you a real example on the local life. You become for a while a citizen of the destination where you go. This is a similar service to the one offered by Airbnb. You find an apartment or an house for few days or for a long period and have your private home. You are directly in touch with the owners and you meet easily the neighbours.
Booking.com propose a great list of homestay properties. You select the various options and then you decide which one is the best for you. When you book it you start to be connected with the owner who will welcome you at your arrival. You can exchange messages and prepare your stay and maybe the details of your arrival to let them be ready for you.
The farm stay
The farm includes different types of structures: cabins, cottages, converted barns, tents, yurts and so on. It is also a great experience for kids, under the entertainment and educational aspects. They are able to host families and also couples. In some cases there are spa services included. You can enjoy specific activities for wellnes, with unique and well prepared pathways.
Now it is your turn, you have to start to search for your favourite accomodation and to book it.
Hotels are the type of accommodation most chosen by travelers. In these years B&B and apartments dedicated to tourists increased their number all around the world, but people still search for a hotel. There are rooms for all need and it is easy to manage them, especially for the services offered by the structures. How to find the best one? Are the reviews reliable? Some of them, yes, but not all of them. So what to do?
I want to share some experience about it. I already wrote a post on my evaluation criteria for the hotels and now I try to give you more advice. Sometimes it is difficult to book the best structure because they are so many and the search engines or the website underline, obviously, only the positive side. It happens to reserve a room and then to see something completely different. But this is not the only problem. You spend a lot of time to research it. Here there are the steps to follow to save time and go direct to the goal.
Filter the hotels
The first step is to use a booking website. You can start with Booking.com because it gives you a good variety and a lot of filters. Of course, there are many other hotels search engines. What you have to do is to insert the dates and the city. Then work on the filters in the menu. The price range, the number of stars, the location, the preferred services and so on. I generally focus on the four and five stars hotels, but this helps me to have an idea about offers and prices. Then I compare more websites, also the official ones. In this case, I suggest to browse in incognito, as I suggested in the post about airline tickets.
The filters for amenities are important because in one hand you are going to make a selection of the extras you need. In the other hand, you are going to reduce the number of hotels, so it will be easy to focus on them. The parking for the car, the pool, the WiFi… Some of them are essential for you, so why to lose time to check a hotel that doesn’t offer you what you want. Booking.com gives you also the chance to select the type of accommodation, as for example ”romantic”, “business” or “family”.
Be careful because more options you tick and fewer hotels will you have to choose. So try to pay attention to the main services and avoid the one not so important for you. The reviews together give a star rating, it is good the average number because it corresponds to the reality. Some websites anyway accept opinions only from people who booked through them and who stayed in the structure, so they are not fake. What I suggest is always to read them carefully, because you may not have the same standards to evaluate the hotel. What is good for you can be bad for another person and vice-versa.
Read the map for the location
Probably you are going to the chosen destination to see something specific, like a monument, a museum, a park or something like that. So you are searching for accommodation quite close to that place. Or do you prefer to stay at the airport or just to be connected by public transportation? You can find information about the location of the hotels in their description, but you need time to check all the text. So easily you can open the map and see exactly the point where the structures are located. Just try to see the distance from the main attractions and the presence of public transport lines.
The booking sites offer you a map of where to see the location of the hotels. It shows them also if they are excluded by your criteria. In fact, you can change the idea and prefer a good location instead of something else. The colors used by the system help you to find each structure on the map. You can read also the price checking the location, so you can consider easily what to choose.
Focus on the most important features
The filters give you the chance to pay attention to all the services provided by a hotel to its guests. What do you really want? Firstly you have your list of structures then comes the moment to decide. Maybe there is not the hotel of your dreams, so you need to set some priorities. Is it more important to have a free breakfast or WiFi without any additional costs?
Working on the determining factors your choice will be really easy. Don’t concentrate only on the price, especially because maybe you find low-cost accommodation far from the attractions, without any public transport. This means that you will save on the room rate and then you will spend the money on the taxi to move. Does it make sense? The answer is up to you, but my consideration/example can help you to decide.
People who go to the hotels want to have staff always present and ready to support them. That is why among the services and the amenities you can check better what you expect. For example, if you arrive late at night, will they be available to welcome you through a 24-hour reception? Will they have someone who can be there for you to show the room and give you the key? If you check the policy of the hotel you can find that the check-in is not available after a certain hour.
What will you find in the room? This is another important question. In fact, you have to find out the size of the bed, if there are a double one or two single beds. Is the room non-smoking? Imagine if you don’t smoke to enter in a place where usually people do it. Will you have the hair dryer and the toiletries? It looks obvious, but to prepare a checklist about the things that you need in a hotel will help you.
Search for hotels requires method and time. That is why with a few steps you can easily reach the objective and find the best hotel for you.
Feel free to ask something or just to add your opinion and contribution in the comments form.
Have a pleasant stay!
Traveler's blog: experiences, guides, tips, and deals.