When your shortlist is OK, hit TripAdvisor to see if you want to stay here at all. 

You may be surprised how inexpensive a larger monitor can be; and you’ve always wanted a reason …

Open four browser windows, for:

  • your planning map in My Maps
  • a regular Google map, because some mapping tools that you’ll need aren’t in My Maps.
  • Trip Advisor, one tab for each hotel in the current batch
  • hotel websites, one tab for each hotel in the current batch

You can do hotels one at a time, but I like to do a few at once in case I want to compare or go back for details

  • Look for a rating of at least 4 stars out of 5. You will find enough options in anything larger than a small town.
  • Look on the left to see the distribution of ratings. 
  • If they are all Excellent or Very Good, you have a winner.  
  • If there are too many Poor or Terrible, move on; but if there are some-but-not-too-many, read a few to see why they gave that rating. You may find that these people had issues that you don’t care about.  Also, check a few of the negative posters – do they have only a few reviews, or a lot but they are all negative? Conversely, are they expert travellers with many reviews?
  • Now read a few remarks from each category. Don’t dig too deep, just try to get a feel for why people liked the place.  Read the *** reviews for “I liked it except” comments.  Look for comments about noise, elevators and breakfast.  MAKE NOTES in your planning document. 
  • If you like the place, look for a “Room Tips” link at the end of some reviews. This stuff like “great except avoid Room 6” or “south side is quieter.

Still a contender? Good. Back to the hotel site. 

  • Look for things that are often at the bottom of the home page, such as Location or Getting Here. This will often reveal neat stuff like “steps from the Picpus Metro on line 6” or “free airport transfers” – or perhaps less wonderful details. 
  • Nail down your preferred room choice, get the price, and document it.
  • Be patient – look for the seniors discount or the 3-night-stay deals. 

Think about what you expect.

  • SIZE: If you think in square feet but the sites are in square meters, find a conversion webpage. Surprises suck. Note that older hotels and older cities will often have smaller rooms. In Europe, for example, many hotel visitors don’t have three weeks’ worth of luggage, and they don’t have North American expectations for huge rooms. YOU are the exception. After having a 34-square-metre room in Kyoto, we were looking at 16-18 square metres in Paris!
  • AIR CONDITIONING: It’s increasingly common, but if it matters to you and you’re travelling in summer, check the listings. Not every hotel has AC, and some that do have strange and/or underpowered systems by North American standards.

One winner

Here’s the shortlist entry for the hotel we finally chose in Paris. We needed one room with a queen bed and one with two singles.

Hotel du Printemps  Picpus  TA 4.5       Marais area     AC       3 nights near Picpus Metro line 6     not far from Nation Metro lines 1,2,6,9
pleasant, mid-busy street with trees, shops etc not far

superior 13-14 sq m  but we could get 
2x triple, 20 sq m;  each flex €489  nonref €456 / + breakfast €9.50     
€978 for the rooms plus €118.80 for breakfasts 4 people    TOTAL  €1096.80  plus tax, final total  €1110.36 payable at checkin

from CDG Airport: 56 min (hotel claims 45) :  RER B dir Robinson/ Saint- Rémy-lès-Chevreuse TO Châtelet, then across platform to RER A dir Marne la Vallée TO Nation, exit 1 Ave du Trône or 6 Ave du Bel-Air (lift)
Bus 351 to Place de la Nation 2, av. du Trône  VERY CLOSE     €24/4  

TA strong reviews: Stairs at the entrance    First-class coffee machine    Many said “good beds”

Another winner

In Rome, this is the final planning entry after we had chosen and booked our hotel. We needed a room for three, for three nights, so don’t gasp at the price.

Hotel Napoleon booking page TA 4.5*   Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II n. 105 
right AT Vittorio Emanuele Metro station, across from a park

Triple Classic 24 sq m (most other options 20 sq m or less!) 
looks nice  €627 so avge €209 with breakfast     (€315Cdn but it’s Rome and we are 3)  See photos in Trip Advisor – select Rooms & Suites then Standard Triple Room

Reservation number: [removed]     free cancel/change till Sep 26       
Check-in 2pm, out noon
Mar 2 email: we are pleased to confirm we will arrange for you a transfer to the airport on your departure at the cost of 30 €. We ask you to set the departure time directly with our concierge desk after your arrival.  

Reviews recommend bar & resto.  Lunch in bar from noon-midnight
Resto 10 tables so reserve, from 7 p.m.  10% discount bar & resto exclusively for reservations made on official website.

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