Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weekend Word to the Wise (Lodging)


This weekend's word to the wise is related to my recent blog post about local hotels vs. chain hotels.

Even though I advocate booking local hotels during your travels, whether domestic or international, there is a great way to incorporate your chain hotels into your travels.

On my last trip to Europe, I initially flew to Madrid to spend several days with family and then flew to Rome for a couple of weeks. I had rented a room in downtown Rome but had to be out of there the day before my flight back to Madrid and my final flight from Madrid, back home to the U.S.

I did a little research and found that the points I could accumulate on my Hilton Rewards program would be quite a bit more with an international hotel, so I made the decision to stay at a Hilton by the airports in Rome and in Madrid. My logic was that since my both flights out were very early and I was using public transportation, a chain hotel would work better for me than booking a room in the city and waking up super early to catch a cab or take a train to the airport.

The positives of using a chain hotel for me were as follows:
  1. I would be staying in very comfortable rooms with free wi-fi access.
  2. I would have a nice restaurant, a spa & indoor swimming pool within very easy reach.
  3. I would be close to the airport and could utilize the hotel's free shuttle to the airport instead of taking a train or subway in from the city. I would be dropped off directly in front of my terminal.
  4. I could take the day to relax, read, swim, eat and generally, rest up before my flights' and the impending jet-lag.
  5. I would be accumulating extra reward points.
It might not sound like much but I think it's the perfect combination of lodging when traveling, especially when flying.

Yes, you will probably be giving up that last day of potential sight-seeing or souvenir shopping, but for me, the time to rest and relax before having to deal with airports and overcrowded flights is worth the trade.

Believe it or not, my room in Madrid was only $100.00 and the room, as well as the hotel, were wonderful! In Rome, my room was about $110.00 but the hotel spa and pool more than made up for the extra expense. I spent both days swimming, munching, reading, internet surfing, photo organizing and blogging. Those days also ended up being the coldest of my visit so I was more than happy to stay inbound, warm & cozy. I also saved the money I would have used for a taxi or train ride to the airport.

Review your budget and check out the rates before you leave for your trip. If you're flying, that last day of your travels could be the perfect day to get some rest and prepare yourself for the hectic pace of traveling set before you. I prefer to book these types of stays in advance. It is possible that the exchange rate for international destinations will change but I prefer the peace of mind knowing that my room is reserved and ready for me when I arrive. If you prefer not to do your own research or booking, or you don't have time to do the research yourself, contact a travel planner/travel agent (LIKE ME!) to do it for you.

In my humble opinion, this is the best way to incorporate local hotels with chain hotels in your travels.



2 comments:

darngooddigs said...

Monica,

We run a website devoted to locally owned small hotels, b&b's, and hostels for budget-minded travelers, and yet even we aren't dogmatic when it comes to chain hotels. In our minds there is a time and place for chain hotels - we stayed at the chain Hotel Maydrit near the Madrid airport this summer before our flight home, and it was perfect for us. Not only was it relatively cheap (57 Euros), but we actually randomly ran into old friends of ours from back home. Most of the time, though, we look for the best independently owned accommodations - places that are original and welcoming. And those are the places we include on darngooddigs.com

GlobeDiva said...

Hi Guys,

I completely agree. The nice thing about traveling is that we don't have to stick with one mindset and that we're free to adjust as we move about the places we visit.

Thanks for the comment and your insight.

Monica