o. Transportation is out of the way. But where do you lay your lovely head?
For mum and I, hotels are usually the cheapest and most convenient we can find because we cannot stand camping another night in a row, or because if we skip camping and drive well after dark, we can position ourselves to launch to our next cool thing to do.
We decided to really make the hotels a part of the experience this time. This meant spending much more than usual, but we wanted the hotels to be a) close to what we wanted and/or b) a real part of the memory. So we stayed over a pub one night in Whitby. In a Georgian block near the Circus in Bath another. In a lodge on Loch Lomond. In a castle near Stirling. In a charming bed and breakfast in Edinburgh. There were other awesome stays, and they are all part of the memory. (One thing that was funny – we stayed in The Mitre, which was built in 1665 and had a HUGE room with a HUGE bed – and the next, we spent three nights in The Huttons in London, which was really nice, but it was so very tiny. So very, very tiny. (I liked it – and I think it was a Victorian Block) but it was a fun contrast.)
This might not be your cuppa. But no worries – the info I am giving you is pretty general. I decided to lean heavily on Hotels.com for my planning (I usually use a combo of things – Google, etc) because I could pay for the rooms up front, and they were in USD so I didn’t have to think about numbers too much. I also felt like I had some protection…so I guess for this step, choosing a service like Hotels.com where you can pay up front is essential.
If you know for certain when you are going to be at a particular place, that is a night you can book.
We knew we wanted to stay at Warwick Castle – so I booked that for my first night through their website, and grabbed a pass and reserved their medieval feast while I was at it.
I knew I had to be in London on July 2nd, because the next day, fairly early, we had to catch the plane. I also knew we wanted to spend a few days, so I booked those days – I did the non-refundable because it was much cheaper. (Booking sooner will also net you deals hotel wise – later I checked the hotel for June 29th because I thought about just going to the Huttons instead of the Mitre and it was much, much more expensive.)
I booked the first 5 days of my vacation and the last three well before I ever set foot in England and Scotland, and was able to pay for them ahead of time (even when I chose the refundable option) and therefore was able to get them paid for over a couple of paychecks. (I booked my hotels over several weeks.)
What should you look for in a hotel?
Price lowers the further from the cool stuff you are. So weigh where you can afford to stay against how much it will cost you to get from your hotel to what you want to see. For Edinburgh I stayed in a hotel that was a two miles from the Castle. Half of that was ALL UPHILL. So I ended up paying about 8 bucks per time to use the cab, because I chose a place that was a bit out of the way. So I probably blew about 32 bucks in cab fare. BUT, the Antlers Guest House was right next to a bus line, so I could have done that, and the land lady was a jewel, the room was amazing, and I was in a safe, quiet neighborhood.
I chose The Huttons because it was near Victoria Station, which my research told me was a main tube/rail station, so I figured I could get everywhere easy, and I was right. Pimlico was actually .3 miles closer, so I ended up walking to Pimlico and using it to get to Victoria and then launching to all the awesome places I wanted to go. (Also, it was not so expensive that I felt like I’d have to sell organs. I like my organs.)
Read reviews. What do other people think of it? I learn to throw out reviews that are just people wanting to say something unkind, or things I don’t worry too much about. “Needs updated” isn’t super important to me, as long as it’s clean.
Also, while my general theory is that I just want a clean place that I can sleep without worrying that I will be robbed and murdered that also has free Wi-Fi, for this trip I really did think about what would make my mum or myself happy. What would make a really good memory? So think of that, too. I will always be able to say I slept in a castle. I will always remember sitting in our room staring at Loch Lomond, marveling at the rainbow that seemed to last forever. That is not without value, too.