Avoiding Accomodation Disasters: Finding Online Travel Reviews That Count

So many factors weigh in when you are planning a trip. After you have acquired plane or train travel plans, you have to chose where to stay, unless you are visiting relations. And maybe because you are visiting relations. There are so many online booking platforms for reservations, and granted there are massive amounts of hotels to choose from it’s very overwhelming. But how do you get the best bargain since most of us are not jet setter millionaires? How can you find accommodations that really meet your needs?

First you really need to know what is really important to you in your stay. Clean and safe are my priorities, especially since I end up traveling alone most of the time. Most hotel booking sites have reviews of their offerings for you to peruse. These are often skewed to the benefit of the establishment. And if you have not been to a location before, you will not know what the place is really like and if you really want to stay there. So how can you be better informed to make the decision that you hope won’t ruin your vacation, the place you set your head down for the night needs to not be a disaster. In other articles, I have written about checking out neighborhoods around where you stay, and this is always a good thing to do. But about the establishments themselves, it gets really complicated.

Really read some of the reviews for a hotel or service apartment service. The reviews on the booking platforms will be more favorable to the hotels and there is no guarantee that they have not picked which reviews to show you. So, if you are looking at a particular place to stay, open another browser window and search on reviews for the establishment. To me it’s the bed and the bath that have to be right.

What to look for in the sea of information that may or may not appear? Look for travel blogs like this one. Many bloggers review in depth a place they stay at. Check out Yelp for the city that you are going to. Search for a directory of reviews for Bed and Breakfast or vacation sublets.

Safety is a big feature for me. You want to save money but that can mean staying in dicey areas. If you are not used to a city, you know there will always be crime areas. Usually you think you can spot what a bad area is, but not always. Research articles before you travel for the cities you plan to visit, safest neighborhoods to live in. Then use the maps features to see what accommodations may be there. Of course if you know you are going to a region that is very rustic, you will have to get what accommodations you can or rent camper vans and camp. That can be it’s own set of issues.

Know what you want or really need in the place you want to stay. If you are there for more than two days, you may want to go the service apartment route. This allows you to actually live in the place and some even come with laundry facilities. Everyone hates to lose time on the vacay with menial tasks like laundry, but it has to be done. If you don’t have laundry facilities, you will have to hunt them down.

While larger booking sites will seem in favor of the hotels, some booking sites do seem to give real reviews, if you can get the feature to work. The system for reviewing is one where hotels solicit a review from guests after their stay, and should be verified that the guest actually stayed there. Some of these can be done in a bribing fashion, promised discounts and such. Smaller booking sites may have more real reviews. And if they all look alike, it’s because they are all working off of the same database for the properties. And then there is Yelp or other review apps for cities.

HotelGuides.Com
This site claims to take a different approach for you the consumer. They only take the most recent reviews and from people who have been verified as staying in the hotel/accommodation. They also group reviews for an area so you can check a part of a city for several reviews at one time. The top recent reviews are displayed. I checked one of the places I am staying in Glasgow, and most of it is very favorable. Full real report from me later.
http://hotelguides.com/hotel-reviews.html
Oyster.Com
Purports to be the be all at ferreting out the truth of hotel accommodations. Real people actually go in and inspect hotels is what they say. Give them a read, see if it seems legit to you. Plus: Really breaks down each hotel room and get better pictures and descriptions of the accommodation than in most other sites. Detailed photos of the rooms. Tried it on one of the hotels I will be in 3 times on trip and fairly good reviews.
https://www.oyster.com
So, overall I expect my stay on the Isle of Skye to not be as good as I had hoped. I had booked months back, but in finding that the reviews are not so good for the guest house I will be at tried for other booking. Sadly it is all taken up so I will have to eat it on this overpriced booking. So look forward to that review when I get there. Sigh.

More Review Sites
http://www.bookdirectrooms.com

Articles

http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/travel/2012/options-time-hotel-review-websites/
http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/find-cheap-hotel-room/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3647262/Commuters-avoid-crime-hotspots-Waze-app-route-drivers-high-risk-areas.html

Accommodations Glasgow: Fraser Suites and St. Enoch’s Apartment

Fraser Suites Glasgow

Ratings ♥ to ♥♥♥♥

My last 2 stays in Glasgow were two different types of accommodations. One was a standard small boutique affair, Fraser’s Suites, and the other was a service apartment off the Clyde in St. Enoch’s shopping area. Both were in the heart of the city. If you like to be in the thick of it, downtown is the place to be.

Central

Fraser Suites Glasgow $$$ ♥♥♥
Albion at Trongate, Glasgow, Scotland 44+ 141 553 4288

The pictures are quite charming, a rambling set of rooms in the Trongate area. Well, what I stayed in was not a suite. I came off the plane and dropped my cases. The very small and cramped room was as far away as i could get from the very busy pub down below, and next to a car park. No need for an alarm, because you have seagulls waking you at 05:00 am. It was basically a place to get over jet lag and get a footing in Scotland before I continued with my journey. For the most part it was clean, and there was a small gym where no one seemed to bother me at the weird hours I went in. I said jet lag, right?

This is where I first experienced Glasgow’s expansive nightlife. The noise of it can be going till the wee hours of 03:00 easy. Massive groups of people clamped on for dear life and the love of their city. So, just remember to try to get the rooms a floor more above the busy restaurant.

The apartment was a serviced apartment in a one room style with kitchenette. The room was small, and a bit tired. I could see this was set up to be a more business staying affair with desk and small living area. The lecky plugs monitored very heavily. The bed was hard. For the most part it was clean, which a clean place and monitored hotel is sometimes what you need when you just get to a country. You are not your best on jet lag. There was a hotel safe which was convenient. I did not use the breakfast services, what I could see was very limited. The staff though was very friendly and as helpful as they could be.

Plus: Location for first time in Glasgow with transit and access to George Square where many of the tour buses depart from. You are walking distance from the train stations and the Clockwork Orange (tube). The prices are manageable and there is a full staff and it’s accessible most hours. The kitchens are fairly well equipped.

Minus: Bed is hard, the rooms a bit warn. There were recent remodels but still a bit sterile. Great to just crash, and the room was actually larger than some I stayed in in Glasgow previously.

Clyde Side

St. Enoch’s Apartments $$$$ ♥♥♥♥
101 Maxwell Street, Central Glasgow , Scotland
Sweeney Service Apartments 00 44 (0) 141 423 2001

This is where I fell in love with the rented apartment concept. The serviced apartments I had stayed at before had been very sterile, this had more of a home feeling about it. I thought as my last splurge on the way out of my trip, I would have a furnished apartment by the Clyde. I live by two rivers and enjoy them, walking the bank side parks are always a great treat. So I booked 3 days in a service apartment and lived among Glaswegians in the St. Enoch’s area.

St. Enoch’s is by the Clyde river, north side across from Laurieston. It’s in the heart of the shopping district and plenty of music and pub venues are in the area for your entertainment. Access to parks are a plus, and public transport hubs make it easy to get around if you are not walking. Noise is a bit of an issue, music venue around the corner, but the apartment was an interior one and buffered a bit. Also the view was narrow, you could see the Clyde, but a bit squished. The apartment had two rooms and could sleep up to 4 comfortably. Facilities were working, but the at the source water heater was a bit tricky, with the fuse switch chain having to be a bit of a twiddle.

Plus: Location was great for the second time in Glasgow. My first had been very close to George Square that was even more busy. If you like vibrant and somewhat busy, this is a good place. You have a tranquil side facing the Clyde that allows for a good morning jog or hike. The kitchen was well equipped. You are close to some of the downtown marts like Tesco which means you can get by, get things in a pinch. But if you want whole foods you will need to travel into the West End or outskirts to a super. Visit a wine merchant.

Minus: Price. The apartment was really too large for me, but when booking was the best I could find for the dates price wise. You are stuck with downtown restaurants. The heart of good food in Glasgow is usually in the West End and Northern parts, around the with some East End food areas getting to be rather tasty. But one of the pluses is to use the kitchen and supplement your eating. Inner city markets are very pricey and limited. Noise level is high on Friday and Saturdays. Check for weekend events as this is a transit hub area.

My first few visits to Glasgow were amazing, and I am heading back. However I will be staying in the West End this season as I found I was spending a great deal of time there each day and found that area around the university more to my type of neighborhood feel. I had one service apartment cancel on me due to building sale, so we will see how this trip goes in the West End as I check out other lodgings.