This is the best way that I know of to find a hotel on the internet. I used this method for every place we stayed at for our entire six week holiday in Europe/UK/Singapore and it worked very well. The basic steps are:
- Decide how much you want to pay each night. We budgeted an average of $200 a night for our whole six week Europe/UK/Singapore trip to get quite nice 4 or sometimes 5 star hotels. FYI: Our hotel in Venice was the most expensive (from supply and demand I guess) but the worst condition (old, no lifts, but clean) and Berlin was one the cheapest but best (5 star, middle of city and even had a giant aquarium in the middle!).
- Decide on your location. I usually choose the closest hotel to a major transport hub (like a train station) within my budget.
- Decide on check-in and check-out dates. Most hotels in Europe/UK seem to have a check-out time of midday and check-in at 2pm. When travelling between cities on a train (like in Europe) I usually booked the train that departs around midday and arrives around 2pm so I check straight in and know my luggage is safely in my room and not have to come back for the rest of the day. It gets dark around 10pm in June so there is plenty of sightseeing time left in the day.
- Find a hotel with high ratings and good reviews from people who have actually stayed there.
- Book it preferably at least a few months in advance to get cheap prices.
How to actually do it:
I wasn't too sure if my bookings were really passed through to the hotels or not with some strange booking websites I had never heard of before, so I was a bit skeptical. But sure enough, every single one of the 14 hotels I booked on our 6 week holiday through Europe/UK/Singapore had no problems at all and acknowledged my reservation every time.
- See the currently available hotels in Florence. This searches 100+ hotel booking websites at once to find the best price which is why I think it's the best.
- Refine your search using as much detail as you can. For example, make up some check in and out dates for a couple of days in a few months time and select 4 stars.
- Now click the Show Map link in the top right. I really like this feature because I can instantly see where the closest hotels are to where I want to be. Hover your mouse over the icon to see the hotel name, star rating and price.
- Just above the map link in the top right, change the drop down box to your local currency if it didn't do that automatically.
- Click on "Sort by: Guest Rating". Scroll down the list of hotels looking at their average rating given by people who actually stayed there and compare that to the price. Naturally the more expensive places usually have higher ratings so the trick is to find a high rating place with a low price.
- My priority is actually location so I sort it by Distance, then look for the highest rating, then see if it's in my price range.
- Now click on a hotel to see the details about it such as photos, features and most importantly the reviews. Sometimes you come across some amazing features such as the "DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - Tower of London" actually had a big screen Apple computer with free internet that also works as a TV. We ended up booking this place because this feature made it stand out from the crowd and the room was great.
- I like to read people's reviews for their very honest opinions, especially the negative ones because you can find out if the problems are really important or not and if everyone keeps complaining about the same thing. To do this, scroll down to the bottom of the web page and click on a link that says something like "Read all reviews from Hotels.com" then when that website appears, click on the Reviews tab.
- After looking through a few hotels and their reviews you can try clicking on the Book Now button but don't worry, you don't actually book anything yet. This shows you a list of all the websites that are selling rooms for this hotel ordered from lowest to highest price so you know you can get the lowest price possible which is why I said in step 1 that this is the best way to find and book hotels on the internet.
- Click the Go button to transfer to that website to actually make the booking. I personally don't necessarily select the website with the lowest price. I prefer to book on websites that I am more familiar with such as booking.com so I have more confidence in knowing it will actually work properly and can group all my bookings together more easily, especially if the price is only an extra few dollars per night. My ultimate preference is to book with the hotel's own website which is what I did with the DoubleTree hotel (the Hilton website) only because their price matched the best price of booking.com and it was a low price too.