You are contemplating a vacation. You have the location selected and now you must decide where you want to stay. Ever realize how many options there is in our world today?
The choice used to be simple. Some folks went camping, some stayed at motels, and some at hotels. Today lodging has amplified into a conglomerate of multiple entities all vying for your vacation dollars.
The typical mainstays in the lodging business remain today. Those range from campgrounds, to hostels, motels, and hotels. This option is not as complicated as some think. Campgrounds are an easy choice if one is looking for an inexpensive close to nature experience. I for one am not a camper as I prefer to have a room with a view and minus the weather elements that camping requires. Motels are not so plentiful today as larger hotels have been built to accommodate corporate events and convention business. When choosing a hotel there are many features one needs to consider besides the price. Some choose a close proximity to city center or where the most sightseeing will take place. Others prefer a unique experience, such as an ice hotel. Some like luxury experiences, others just prefer a clean room with a bed.
Having been in the travel industry a long time, I have my own list of hotel requirements that suits my needs. When I began searching for Helsinki lodging, my main requirement was to use my American Express points. Further, I knew that I wanted to be city center and near transportation options as I prefer to get from the airport to town on my own accord utilizing public transportation. My search continued by checking out Tripadvisor ratings and reviews and what previous guests experiences were. I then narrowed down my choices and went to the membership page of each hotel to see how many points it would take to stay at each of the hotels. The hotel I was looking at was a luxury property, city center, and part of the Starwood group to which I have a membership. I looked at how many points it takes booking through AMEX and how many booking through Starwood. In the end, the Starwood (SPG) had a better rate than AMEX. I moved my points from AMEX to my Starwood account and booked directly with Starwood. Helsinki done!
One of my new favorite types of lodging is Airbnb (www.airbnb.com). I have used Airbnb on a couple of occasions last year. Airbnb is a very popular and less expensive alternative to hotels for the right person. For one thing, one has to be an independent traveler. By that I simply mean, one has to be willing to explore on one’s own. In addition, there is no daily maid service, and one has to be open to living in someone else’s space. My first experience in Copenhagen last year was a very good one. I chose a 2-bedroom flat in a nice neighborhood approximately 20 minutes from the airport. My biggest fear was arriving after dark and trying to find the place. That fear was soon conquered as my host gave very implicit directions. It was a breeze. What I like most was my ability to get to know this little neighborhood and talk to the people who live there. Further, I prefer to have a large space with a couple bedrooms, versus a small one-room hotel for a fraction of the cost. And, I enjoy having my own kitchen to make coffee as I watch the world go by below. Getting to know about the life of my host is very important to me. Learning about other cultures and being able to experience life as a local versus as a hotel guest makes a huge difference!
This year, I decided to look again at an Airbnb flat in Reykjavik. Having been there before, I knew approximately what area of town I wanted to be in. I searched on http://www.airbnb.com for available properties and added a few to my ‘wish list.’ Contacting the host and asking questions gave me a great deal of knowledge in making my decision. I prefer when the host is a good communicator. And my choice in Reykjavik was soon made when my host responded quickly to my questions. I will update you following my trip with all the details!
For my latter trip to Amsterdam, I chose similar lodging. I chose a hotel close to the central train station in Amsterdam (again using my AMEX points) avowing me to come and go by train for my day trip down to Delft and The Hague. I chose a 2-bedroom flat in central Amsterdam for 4 nights. I have a wonderful host, Brett, and he has been offering to help with my travel planning or anything else I need. His flat is on a canal and I look forward to living as a “Dutch” girl for a few nights!
Whatever type of lodging you choose, whether you are a conservative traveler and prefer to be on a tour, an independent traveler, or an adventurer, the choice is yours to make. My choice is to be an explorer/adventurer and learn about life around the world, departing feeling enriched and fulfilled in my journey.