Obsessed with Lodgings in Italy

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I don’t know why I get this way, but now that I know we are going to Italy, I am obsessed with finding just the right places to stay at just the right prices. I know. We have five months! Maybe I am a little crazy when it comes to travel, especially with my niece or nephew, but I want to make sure everything is perfect, I don’t break the bank, and we don’t miss out on a great place to stay because I was disorganized.

As I have mentioned, I prefer Airbnb because we can get two bedrooms (teens need their privacy and alone time), a lounging space, and a kitchen for about the same price I would pay for a single hotel room.

Here’s how I search:

  1. Just as in buying real estate, I go for location, location, location. The first thing I do is research neighborhoods. I am not that picky since every area as something to offer and it will all be exciting and new to me. I prefer to be a bit off the beaten track in a neighborhood where real people live. That’s another benefit of Airbnb. It does mean that it takes a little longer to get to the top tourist sites, but that is a trade I gladly make.
  2. Price. To trick myself into not getting big eyes, I put this filter on immediately. I don’t want to know what I can have for $300 a night, because I am not going to be able to have it. Make sure you look at the total and not the per night price. People set all kinds of cleaning and service fees that can make one place look cheaper up front, but really be more expensive.
  3. Amenities. We need WiFi. Sorry, but this is the modern world, we don’t speak the language, and we are leaving loved ones home. Plus, how would I post the blog? We also want a well-equipped kitchen. I don’t need to eat three meals a day in restaurants. Sometimes you just want to bring a sandwich with you. Then, I think about specifics. I want air conditioning in case of an Italian heat wave. Convenience of public transport is also key since I am almost certain I will not rent a car no matter how enticing driving the narrow, winding roads of Italy seems. Check the list of amenities! I saw one where a visitor said the oven wasn’t working. The owner replied that he should have checked the listing more carefully because the oven was not included in the price although it was pictured. What? Also, make sure the price includes linens and towels, unless you are bringing your own.
  4. Reviews. Yes I read them, using Steven’s rules. Throw out the gushiest and the worst and see what’s left. There’s always one complainer, but if many people mention that the bed was lumpy, it probably is.
  5. Check the specifics. What are the check-in and check-out times? Are they flexible if you have flights that don’t coincide? What is the
  6. Agonize, search a dozen times, make a decision and forget about all the other places you looked at. Let’s face it: We’re going to have a great time whether we stay a few blocks to the east or west, or even 20 minutes by bus. Everything is an adventure when I travel.

 

How to Choose a Lodging

So many places to stay. How to choose? Steven and I have a very scientific method: a complicated algorithm that combines price, location, intuition, and search fatigue. We like to stay in off-beat or unique places (Mt. Peale Animal Sanctuary or Monument Valley Tipi Village). Sometimes we get a little practical. Here’s how we think about it:

We understand there’s a quality difference between the Baymont Inn and the Four Seasons, or even the Holiday Inn Express, but if we are arriving in North Platte, Neb., at 8:30 p.m. and leaving at 6 a.m., all we need is a clean place to sleep. So what if the shower fixture is pulling away from the wall as long as the water is hot? Do we care if we get a $3.50 breakfast credit to the diner across the parking lot? No! North Platte is a place that makes Starbucks look fabulous. We’d rather save the $60 or so. No frills, no worries.

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The pond at Red Moon Lodge

If we’re planning a trip of longer than a week, we try to find a place with laundry and some privacy in the middle of the tour. That usually means AirB&B. If you’re staying at least a week, you can find many owners who give a discount. Plus, the cleaning fees are spread out over a longer time and you can do a bit of your own cooking. We like to have the whole place to ourselves and getting to do laundry mid-trip without spending time in a laundromat makes packing so much easier. Another benefit is that many are in neighborhoods, so you’re away from the most touristy areas and get a more realistic vision of the places you’re visiting. We’re not looking for new friends, but if you are, you may find some this way. Unless you find one that’s considerably cheaper than a motel, I wouldn’t stay in one for one night. The fees end up making it less than economical.

I am not a big fan of staying in motels on the main drag. I try to look for one or two unique features or experiences I can’t have at home. That’s how we ended up at Mt. Peale and Red Moon Lodge. Neither is within walking distance to the strip in Moab, but both were beautiful, contemplative, and full of friendly people. Monument Valley Tipi Village just seemed like someplace silly to stop for a night. I don’t know that I’d recommend it, mostly because the owners are very disorganized, but we got a strenuous and informative hike on Navajo land and got to talk to the young man (our guide) whose family owns the land plus several of the other folks staying there. I like to have at least a few lodging experiences that offer the opportunity to meet people I wouldn’t encounter in my daily life.

There’s nothing wrong with a regular motel or hotel room; I just find them confining. I would much rather relax on the beautiful grounds of a bed and breakfast, or have a two-bedroom home on a hill for just the two of us.

Most of the places we stayed, I found either through AirB&B or Googling it. George at Red Moon Lodge said that they are listed on AirB&B but also have their own website, where you can book without paying any extra fees. That’s a helpful hint: If you find a place that seems more lodging than true AirB&B (which I think of as more of a single space as opposed to a space with multiple rooms), find its website and look for a price differential.

We do our homework and haven’t had a bad experience, but some of that is our attitude about it all. It’s an adventure!