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winging it - lodging

We do not like to adhere to a schedule when we travel new places because we never know what we will spend time seeing or doing. If we travel to Scotland the last week of April and the first week of May how difficult would it be to find decent lodging without reservations?

Posted by
971 posts

We winged it in Scotland this July and it was hard to find accommodation, especially in the Highlands and on Skye.

Posted by
18 posts

Michael, We have never had any issues when we wing it but as a rule we do not travel in peak tourist season. I believe peak season in Scotland is June-August...at least I think it is.
Having never been to Scotland, it is difficult to say how much time we will need in each area so I am reluctant to make reservations.

Posted by
1180 posts

We did not make any reservations in September of 2014 and had no trouble finding B&B's. (We did not check hotels). Having said that, my cousin traveled there in June of 2015. Based on our experience, they went up to the Highlands without reservations and could find NOTHING. The explanation they were given was it had something to do with workers coming to work at wind farms (?). It is a bit of a risk, but I would think you would be OK given the time of year you are going.

Posted by
631 posts

It's not unreasonable, presumably you would have web access and could at least search that from day to day rather than just wandering the streets.

Point to be aware, Monday 7th May is a holiday, that means the whole weekend from Friday evening may peak. In popular locations I wouldn't leave it too late to book.

The compromise between winging it and getting everything reserved in advance is to spend the winter researching places you might visit and at least have an idea of which lodgings you would/ would not be interested in, then make a list of phone numbers or websites.

Posted by
6847 posts

I would think in off peak weeks, you wouldn't have any problem getting rooms on the fly. Scout out the availability of rooms on Booking.com prior to leaving--get some properties in mind. Carrying a "device" that gets you online is a great help in traveling in this manner.
We used to travel fast and far in rental cars, however we've now changed our travel style. We're staying in the same place 3-4 nights and going out on day trips-- traveling "better." This especially works well in relatively small places like Ireland and Scotland.
It's good to have reservations ahead of time on the arrival days and the night before you fly out, however.

Posted by
2926 posts

If you follow SteveB's advice and compile a list of your top likely destinations and desirable lodgings there, then when you're actually traveling you should be able to plan, say, 48 hours ahead. Ringing up first thing in the morning to ask "would you have a room for us tomorrow night?" (as opposed to "tonight") will increase your odds of getting a pleasant place to stay for a reasonable price.

One thing I noticed about Scotland is what I started to call "land of the nonrefundable deposit." The policy usually was that you could not cancel without losing all or a substantial part of your payment. From that standpoint, booking just a day or two ahead is a great idea because you'll know how your trip is going and where your interests are leading you, at what pace.

Late April & early May is a good time to be there. Bluebells may be blooming as well as other spring flowers, midges not out yet, and summer holidaymakers not yet on site.

Posted by
754 posts

Going at the end of October and will likely only book a day or 2 ahead of time......
Any holidays or festivals I need to be aware of?

Posted by
891 posts

I'm fairly sure that you can wing it, but the problem you'll face is that you might be restricted in what is available and how much you'll have to pay for it, which is a recipe for getting the worst of all worlds. A lot will depend on where you are heading as well. Current - within the last week - advice re Skye is not to travel unless your accommodation is already booked. As others have said earlier, Skye is struggling to cope with the demand for accommodation within the season, which I would guess would run from late April/May onwards.

Hope all goes well and you have a great trip!

Ian

Posted by
689 posts

Photobearsam, not to hijack paulareid's thread, but I believe some in your group have mobility issues from past posts. Every guesthouse we stayed in on our recent trip to England, Wales and Scotland had stairs to climb. You might want to definitely scope out places that might fit your needs before you leave to give yourselves some options.

Posted by
5478 posts

Photobear

The last week of October and the first week of November is half term holidays for UK schools, so places may be busier.

Posted by
184 posts

One thing I noticed about Scotland is what I started to call "land of the nonrefundable deposit." The policy usually was that you could not cancel without losing all or a substantial part of your payment.

Which has come about as a direct result of some guests either cancelling their reservations at the last moment, leaving accommodation providers no opportunity to re-let the room, or not arriving at all and giving no word of their intention.

It happened to me a number of times and in the end I had no choice but to implement a deposit system to safeguard my business. Others have obviously had to do the same.

I wanted to accept every reservation on trust and welcome the world to my B&B, but sadly it did not quite work out like that.

Posted by
754 posts

Jennifer....thanks.....I guess we will book ahead in that case.

Posted by
977 posts

I have been travelling in Scotland in April/May on a couple of occasions. As long as you are not there on a Bank Holiday weekend, you shouldn't have too many problems. Good advice maybe to have a bit of an idea a day before where your travels will take you and check on availability?? I find nothing worse than driving around, in a strange place at the end of a long day, looking for accommodation.

Posted by
7427 posts

As someone indicated above, I would be very very wary about doing this in Skye, given news reports over the past couple of weeks. You won't be there in high season (and maybe you're not planning on going to Skye at all), but I would still be very careful if you go there. (Also depends how many of you there are in your party - i.e. do you just need one double room, or a few . . .)

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you everyone for the input. We will be traveling April 14 - May 5, 2018 and we will be touring both Scotland and Ireland. It will only be my husband and I so it is easier to find accommodations for just one room, at least it usually is. I plan to have much research accomplished before I go and a list of accommodations near each location along with phone numbers and addresses so I can call ahead. I will certainly make reservations for the first and last night stay in each country and for Skye. There is nothing worse than searching for a hotel or B&B when you are already tired and ready to sleep. Unless I am wrong, we won't hit any holidays during those dates and it isn't peak tourist season so hopefully we won't have issues finding lodging. I hope our wing-it travel philosophy goes as smoothly as it has in the past and if it doesn't...well, we will deal with it, learn from it, and treasure the memories made.