Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And ... London hotel obtained too

It's a good thing that this vacation is in about two months, as it's probably going to take me that long to get it together. Today I managed to pin down my flights (yes! only two stops on the way back from Istanbul!) and the London hotel.

The latter was extremely annoying, as my usual sources were letting me down.

Don't get me wrong, given the relatively favorable exchange rate, pretty much every hotel in London was reasonably priced. Hell, hotwire would've put me in a 5-star hotel in the West End for $200/night. Which, in the overall scheme of things, is pretty good. (I remember the last time I went to New York, I couldn't get a room in the theatre district for under $250. If I wanted to actually have a bathroom in it.) So, yeah, $200/night for a five-star hotel exactly where I wanted it would be, y'know, good.

Excepting going to London for five days is just the start of this rather massive vacation, and tossing out $1000 on the hotel in London for the, y'know, pre-vacation part of this vacation seems a bit wasteful. So, I see what Hotwire has in a four-star hotel; maybe even 3 1/2.

Here's an interesting tidbit about Hotwire -- they now tell you the TripAdvisor rating for your hotel. It'll say something like "TripAdvisor rating 4 out of 5, based on over 240 ratings."

You know what this means? It means that, with unlimited time, you can actually figure out the hotel that Hotwire is offering. "Unlimited time" being the key part of this sentence. I mean, I'm trying to find out which 4 star hotel in Regent's Park, Baker Street, or Camden Lock has a 4 out of 5 rating based on over 240 ratings. And when there happens to be more than one of them (which there does), I have to cross-check amenities (ok... the hotwire hotel has a pool... does this one on TripAdvisor have a pool?) It took hours. And the bottom line was: none of the hotels they offered me was awesome enough to be worth their price.

Off to Priceline -- to bid, basically, what I thought those hotels would be worth. (The problem, indeed, with Priceline, is that when you're bidding on, say, a four-star hotel in the Marble Arch area, you want to offer the price you'd be willing to pay for the crappiest four-star hotel in that area -- otherwise, if that's the one they happen to give you, you'll be screwed.)

Seeing as it's now after 1:00 in the morning, I'll spare you the blow-by-blow on this. Four more hours of research later (including nearly booking a room through lastminutetravel.com, until I googled for reviews of lastminutetravel.com), and four priceline offers later (during which time they repeatedly offered me worse deals than hotwire), I ended up with a decent room in a four-star hotel in a nice location for $120/night.

Next up: Booking one night in Istanbul.

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