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To reserve or not to reserve?

I'm in the very beginning stages of planning a trip to Scotland during the last 2 weeks of August 2017. I know it's way too early to reserve anything, but I was wondering if anyone had experience traveling during that time of the year without advance reservations. I will be traveling solo and would like to have some level of spontaneity in my plans. I will definitely make reservations for my first couple of nights in whatever city I end up flying into, as well as Edinburgh since it is festival time. Does anyone have any experience traveling sans reservations during that time of year? What are your thoughts on this? I will not have a car, so that will definitely determine the level of flexibility I have too. Thanks for any input on my plans!

Rosemary

Posted by
3551 posts

It will still be peak season so unless u will be at a hostel u will be spending a lot of time finding lodging.
Even at a hostel with limited registration can hours, it could be a hassle.
The only poss option could be at some train stations they have tourist info for avail lodging.
Me, I would not chance it.

Posted by
2627 posts

If you are coming to Edinburgh during festival time the make sure you have a reservation , it gets very scarce and very expensive at that time of year, this years festival hit new highs for visitor numbers and prices for even the cheapest room were getting to expensive for many.I would book as early as you can to try and get a reasonable price. even travelling outside the main cities you might be able to wing it but again your options will be limited. In the last 2 weeks of august the Scottish Schools are back so there is a few less Scots travelling in their own country but as it is still high season for visitors you may struggle in some places.
travelling in central Scotland is relatively easy using public transport but best deals for trains are best bought in advance.

Posted by
1306 posts

A compromise would be to book 2 - 3 days ahead. Using one of the hotel reservation apps.

But if you want to be sure to be somewhere with limited capacity then book early.

We missed a trip to the Outer Hebrides in June because we thought we could book two days before.

Posted by
260 posts

There was an interesting news item on television the other evening dealing with the effects of Brexit. The vote to leave means that overseas visitors to these shores are getting a much better exchange rate than before and there are more people visiting the UK as a whole. Some people can now afford to extend their holidays and are factoring in extra days and staying for longer.

Scotland (especially the west coast) is a very popular destination and when you take into account a favourable exchange rate, I think it's only going to become more popular. The Outlander Effect is playing a part as well. I know of a B&B in Spean Bridge where the advance bookings for next year are already well up on anything for 2016.

Based on that and if it were me, I'd book ahead and start looking now and reserving accommodation as soon as possible. If only only to give myself peace of mind about having a place to stay.

I well remember a long ago August holiday to France which was marred by lack of foresight and almost ruined when we thought we could "wing it" with regards accommodation and quickly found out we could not. Even with the flexibility allowed to us by the use of a car we had problems :-(

Posted by
185 posts

Thanks everyone for your input! It sounds like it's going to be best to go ahead and come up with a plan and make my reservations. That's kind of what I expected but I wanted to get others' thoughts on it. I read somewhere that if I want to do the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh that I should try to make my reservations in December. Can anyone confirm that? Also, how far out do B&Bs and such usually take reservations? As a solo traveler I usually stay at hostels, but I don't know that there will be hostels available everywhere that I want to go in Scotland. Thanks!

Rosemary

Posted by
2627 posts

I would book tickets as soon as they come out, sell out every year , you might be able to pick up the odd ticj=ket or returns nearer the time but no guarantees.
don't dismiss hostels, loads in Edinburgh and throughout the country.
SYHA. Scottish youth hostel association have lots of places including a huge place on Leith walk (Hamilton place) which is only a 15 minute walk from the main city centre.

Posted by
9319 posts

I bought my tickets for the Tattoo this year in April, there were still plenty left (and I needed 8 together, you'll have an easier time looking for just one).

There are a couple of threads on here about the best sections for watching the Tattoo, I found those posts really helpful. It's an extraordinary performance. Try to go when there are fireworks -- Saturday nights or on filming nights for the BBC.

Posted by
279 posts

I would definitely look into booking as soon as you're sure where you want to stay. When we went to Britain in July 2012, I booked all of our nights by the end of January 2012, and a few of the places were filling up by then. August will be even worse.

The one night I was originally going to wing it was our one night near Inverness, but in early February I decided to check out possible places on TripAdvisor anyway. When I found a very highly recommended B&B right on Loch Ness (the Pottery House--best B&B of our entire trip!), I went to their website to book it, and in doing so, I found out that our night there was going to coincide with the beginning of the Scottish Open pro golf tournament in Inverness, so I was lucky to get a room even that early. When we stopped for dinner on the other side of Loch Ness before checking in for the night, we met a couple who were trying to find a room anywhere near Inverness. I had to break the news of the golf tourney to them and suggested they head down the loch towards Ft. William for more options.

Posted by
1616 posts

It is always best to book as early as possible for that time of year. The season is relatively short, and the accomodation fills up quickly.

Posted by
185 posts

Thank you everyone for your personal experiences! It looks like I need to work on nailing down my itinerary and starting to choose some accommodation options.

Posted by
5678 posts

You absolutely need to book your time in Edinburgh. You can probably find accommodation outside of there, but you would need to be flexible in location and type. So, without a car you probably need to book.

Pam

Posted by
185 posts

Thanks Pam! I've decided to go ahead and book all of my accommodations. I don't want to waste time trying to find a bed when I could be sightseeing. How far out would you recommend booking in Edinburgh during that time? I try not to spend a lot on lodging, and I don't need anything fancy so I usually lean towards hostels when I'm traveling solo but I'm open to singles in B&Bs as well. I know that my nights in Edinburgh will probably be more expensive than elsewhere, especially given that it's during the festival, but I would like to stay under 50-75 pounds per night. Any suggestions for places I should check out? Thanks again!

Rosemary

Posted by
1014 posts

Booking now is not a bad idea for late August in Scotland. Good, cheap places fill up fast. Several good places in Edinburgh are already full for the festival. With no car, you might want to be within walking distance of the train station to save cab fare. Probably look within a 10 block radius of the train. On a side note, there was a wonderful noodle bar - Red Box Noodle Bar- that had great food and cheap prices. It was across the street from Edinburgh University.

I just checked Airbnb for last two weeks in August. There are only 10% of the rentals available during that time.