off peak, seat of your pants hotels

Embryotic planning question. If traveling off peak (Pre-June, Post Sept) how hard is it to get a walk in hotel room? In other words, if I ma bopping around say Germany, Belgium, Switzerland or northern Italy, and want to just try a get a hotel room as a walk in, how likely is it I will get turned away? I drove back and forth across the US last summer, and always got a room. Note that I tend for the out of way, and not major tourist spots.
Thanks for any thoughts. Jon

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

There is one big huge difference between "finding a room" and finding a room with decent price-quality ratio. In US this is easier if you are sticking to big chains out of the Interstate. But in Europe things might work a little different. For a starter, you might well pay much more than if you had booked online on your smartphone couple hours earlier. Then, without the certainty created by major chains, you either stick with unknown offers (overpriced for their range) or you lose a lot of time scooping rooms. Of course almost any hotel will be happy to take your business if they are not fully booked. However, they have the upper hand and will likely charge you full price. I think it is a terrible idea because you can't assess the property before clinching to a deal (like checking what facilities and services are available, what are prices on the area etc).

Posted by Adam
Boston
2633 posts

No problem if your standards are flexible. Still a good idea to call ahead morning of and reserve.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2522 posts

Or you can spend a few minutes online the day of or the day before your arrival checking booking.com or some other site - sometimes you can find last-minute deals, but you can at least get an idea of location and cost for anything from hostels to five-star hotels.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

We travel this way, by the seat of your pants, once we are on the ground. Either we find the town's Tourist Information office and ask them if they can find us a hotel, or we find one ourselves. Only once, in Namur, did we have to get back on the train and go to the next city to find lodging. Namur was having a music festival at the time and all the hotels were filled.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

We are with Monte. Rooms generally are easy to find. If you can call ahead a day or two is often helpful but the local TI is a good source. And if the area is too small for a TI, then the first bar, restaurant, ticket seller in the train station, etc. is a sourced for info.

Posted by Betty
Missouri City
201 posts

We always book ahead. Where we stay is an important part of our vacation experience. We don't do many one nighters so we'll usually stay in a place for 2 to 3 days or more. And, even in September, many places in Europe are busy. But, if you aren't fussy about your accommodations, you can always find some place to stay but you may pay more for it than if you'd booked ahead.

Posted by Jeff
Bend, OR, United States
1145 posts

Even when I don't or can't book ahead I try to do some research in advance to make sure of the price range. You often can't tell from the outside and as others have noted there can be big differences.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

I've done it both ways. A few times I've ended up in a place that I was not happy with, but for the most part I was find and had some great places. I often would book in the morning or the night before. But, if I know I'm arriving mid-day then I might wait until I arrive. All that said it is a good idea to rough out your itinerary so you don't get caught by festivals. Pam

Posted by Jon
Moorpark, CA, USA
2 posts

Thanks to the many of you that responded. I always figure it's best to lay back for a bit a see the answers, even if I need to clarify. I would probably be traveling alone, but may with a freind. I tend to like to move each night, in other words, keep moving to see more. I am getting old, near 60 so am slowing down, and may try Ricks suggestion on trying for two night stays. Why i would prefer not to book in advance, except for some important spots; like maybe 1st and last night; is that it allows that flexibilty of not having to get to that next room. Again, many thanks on the comments, I may more questions.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
400 posts

We tend to travel in the manner - love the flexibility of it. We have found some neat little gems along the way.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

If you do this, be sure to check up on conventions. When I was in Milan in March 1989, one hotel said they were already booked for the whole month of March and the whole month of September (fashion shows). And in Frankfurt, I hit a meat-packers convention (for real - 220,000 people, according to the Frankfurt convention and visitor's bureau). Milan, Frankfurt, Paris, and Duesseldorf are just 4 of the cities that get lots of conventions, and if you hit one (especially a big one, like the Frankfurt Book Fair) without reservations, you can be toast.