My friend and I are going to Italy in September. I emailed 9 of Rick's suggested lodgings in Venice and Florence asking for a room with 2 beds, and received only one "sorry we'll full" message; the others did not respond. Does anyone have suggestions for our search? thanks
You can use a booking site -- I have used booking.com and venere.com -- and see a range of hotels beyond the ones suggested by RS. Sort by review scores or price or distance from center, whatever is most important to you. The listing should show which are "twin" rooms. Find a room you like that is "book now, pay later" and you have the assurance that you will have someplace to stay while you keep looking for the perfect hotel. Just keep the cancellation dates in mind.
September is a busy travel month in Italy, so some may be full and not bother to respond. If you requested a short stay, like 1 - 2 nights, hotels might not want to commit to you now, as they hope for longer-stay guests. Try a few more emails and make sure they are written in clear, simple bullet points with date of arrival, date of departure, and number of beds requested.
Look at airbnb. I am doing a prelim hunt for places as it will be my mom and me and hubby, and we need two separate rooms (or a room and a sofa bed). My first choice (where we have stayed the last 3 times in Venice) is already booked for the beginning of Sept (and that was 2 weeks ago - so even 6 mos ahead, they are being booked, which the owner was surprised by). Not sure what your price range is, but I've been checking airbnb, cross-pollinate, sleep in Italy, Flipkey, homeaway...a lot do prefer at least a 2 night stay. My budget is in the $150-170 range a night (usually it's $80-100, but with my mom, I know we need to up it), which really limits my choices, but even on airbnb, I have a few dozen.
My go-to method anymore is to go to Google maps, zoom in on the area in which I'd like to stay, write down the hotel names and then go over to Trip Advisor and run a search for those hotels/check reviews. TA and probably Venere have good filter mechanisms allowing you to sort by neighborhood in larger cities. So many hotels and even b&bs use online booking now, you can usually find out availability right away.
I love Rick's guidebooks for sights and transportation information but rarely use them for hotels or restaurants. There are plenty of charming places out there in the spirit of Rick that aren't in his books. I've found great little hotels in Paris and London, for example, that are not in a RS guidebook. Good luck in your search!