Tag Archives: Florence

Being your own travel agent

Isn’t it wierd – there’s all these sites on the internet now that gives us the power to investigate and book flights, trips, accomodation.   I guess it suits the type of people who like to control all of this themselves instead of leaving it to a travel agent…  like me 🙂  But then again, we’ve spent HOURS investigating, reading reviews, looking at maps, looking up guide books trying to decide on what hotel to book!   Sometimes I wonder if it is worth the time?

With our trip starting next week, I had to play travel agent again – we hadn’t organised accomodation for Florence or Venice yet!   Initially I was keen on booking Hotel Davanzati for Florence.   I did the usual thing and went to Tripadvisor.com, looked up the hotel’s page there and clicked on their links to get the best prices at the various sites.   For this hotel, only www.venere.com was checked.  Their list price was 500 Euros.

I decided to go to the hotel’s website itself at www.hoteldavanzati.it and after plugging in the dates we wanted to stay, it spat out a total of 364 Euros!   What a difference – tip for the day is to always check the hotel website itself when comparing prices.

Anyway, this was above our budget and the room type we wanted wasn’t available for our dates, so we ended up booking Hotel Alessandra instead.  Going through its website, it seemed to have a special on and so we upgraded ourselves to a Junior Suite for less than half the price!

Then next on the list was to book Venice accomodation.  Again we had budgetary constraints but wanted something rated well on Trip Advisor, with a good location and service.   After a few hours of searching, we’ve ended up booking Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo.  Hopefully it’s as good as the reviews say it is!

The one thing that we haven’t found time to fit into our schedule there is a trip to Cremona to visit the violin workshops there and the Stradivarius Museum.  Hmm..  might have to leave that for next time 🙂

Florence accomodation

So we’re less than 2 weeks away from our quick Italian trip!  We’ve got the flights booked, the internal train tickets booked.   We’ve finally booked the Rome hotel, but we haven’t got hotels booked for Florence or Venice yet.

What to choose?  As my wifey will testify – I luurrrvveee doing research.  Too much research really.  When we went on our Summer holiday adventure around the globe, we did massive amounts of research on www.tripadvisor.com and it was well worth it.   There are so many reviews on there!

But you have to be a little careful – here’s what I usually do:

  • I usually read a few pages worth of reviews to see what the general feel is like.
  • When listing all the hotels, I also look at how many reviews each got – it may be that a hotel is “ranked” higher because there were less reviews for it.
  • I also make an effort to check reviews on other sites, or especially dedicated commercial travel sites.
  • Checking the user submitted photos is also worthwhile, just to get a feel for the decor – but that’s not too important for us for this trip as we’re not planning to spend huge amounts of time in the room.
  • Lastly, tripadvisor has an excellent Google maps mashup – you can view all the hotels ordered by rating on a Google map and be able to filter by price and availability!    This is extremely useful!

So for our Italy getaway, we checked tripadvisor (much to the dismay of our travel agent!).   Since our trip is so short, we really wanted to stay where all the action was.   So for Rome, we eventually decided on Albergo del Senato – located right next to the Pantheon.

For Florence, we haven’t decided yet, but it looks like Hotel Davanzati is a go-er.  And for Venice?   That’s research for tomorrow night.