We are signed up for the RS Heart of Belgium & Holland tour starting April 27, a Wednesday. We like to come in a couple of days early, but we do not automatically choose the starting hotel (as they can sometimes be very pricey compared to nearby hotels.)
I started to explore possibilities in both Ghent (the starting city) and Brussels (where we will fly in to) possibly Sunday 4/24 or Monday 4/25. Particularly for a city like Brussels, I look for hotels around the central train station which is also usually near many tourist sites. In both cities the majority of hotels in the vicinity of the train station are listed as "no rooms available for those dates" on search sites such as booking.com and hotels.com. I even looked at a chain hotel web site (Best Western) out of curiosity and had the same result, but rooms were available at hotels far from the city center.
My question---is this usual for Brussels and Ghent? Is it because I am looking too early, 8 months ahead, and they simply do not book this early? Is there something extra special about that time of the year in Belgium that I do not know about?
I had not planned to commit to one city or the other this far out as we were not sure how we wanted to use our free time before the tour starts or even exactly when we will arrive. I do not want to book airlines this far out anyway. But now I am wondering if I need to grab one of the few hotels that indicate availability and develop free day plans from there. This is our 7th RS tour and I have not encountered this issue before (especially for hotel rooms on a Monday and Tuesday.) Thoughts and advice from those of you familiar with Belgium would be appreciated.
By the way, this is also an issue for staying afterwards in Amsterdam. Since we are only planning 1 extra day, I decided to contact the ending hotel and try to arrange it with them. However I am still very surprised at how many surrounding hotels had "no rooms available for those dates."