We're considering arriving a day or two ahead of our tour departure and staying a day or two after the tour ends. I'm wondering about past experiences-was it easy to arrange your stay with the hotel? Did they give any kind of discount, or were you charged the full, on-line booking fee for your room? I am just beginning to plan these things out. And, as the tour hotel rates look to be pretty high online (>220 Euros/night for end of season) , maybe I do want to consider another venue for a different experience. Thanks
You’ve spent $$$ on your airfare - for sure get there and stay extra days before and after. You don’t have to stay in the same hotel or even the same town! How about hopping on the train and going to a brand new destination that you didn’t cover on your tour? Yes yes by all means stay extra nights while you’re already there! Have fun.
...what Tim said.....
My husband and I are looking forward to our second RS tour in May (GAS!). I have had no trouble booking extra days either before or after our tours. All the hotel desks have been very helpful.
As to your pricing, I haven't taken an RS tour, but other tours sometimes accommodate and will book the hotel a few days before or after at a reduced price....but you can always email or call for a quote before committing.
I've only ever added 1 day to before and/or after, and for 1 day I would rather not move hotels. I've only had one instance where a hotel was not able to accommodate me. RS provides the email/website of the first and last hotels immediately after you sign up for a tour so that you can make your own arrangements.
I definitely recommend arriving at least a day before your trip and ideally two days before your trip. We have always come to Europe at least two days before a tour begins and spent that time at a nearby different town than the first location of the trip. (If you’re beginning in Barcelona, I would go ahead and stay there.) Then by the time you meet up with the tour, your jet lag is gone. Also, this gives you a nice buffer in case there was a plane strike or connection issue, so you don’t miss any of your tour time.
If you’re taking the Best of Spain tour that ends in Sevilla, I would recommend taking the 45 minute train (it’s easy & safe) to Cordoba and staying overnight there. It has the Mezquita, beautiful walkway bridge to see during the day & evening, interesting patios, and overall a very nice town. From there, you could either take the train to Malaga or Madrid to then fly home afterwards.
Although you do not specify which one, it looks as though you are planning a RS Spanish tour. Depending on which Spanish tour, you could be inhabiting as many as seven different hotels (Best of Spain) or as few as two (Best of Barcelona and Madrid). I like to "make the most" of being there rather than limiting my European stay to the dates included in the tour - I think most travelers would agree.
The convenience of arriving a day or more prior to the tour start date allows you to recover from jet lag and familiarize yourself with the surroundings of the city. With early arrival, staying at the "tour hotel" is certainly more convenient as it eliminates the need to move from one part of town to your tour hotel. RS suggests contacting the "tour hotel" directly for a presumption of the "best rate". Personally, I have not found this to be true, but my experiences are probably not typical.
Staying after the tour ends is also a opportunity to become your own tour guide in a city or region with which you now have some familiarity. Also, your RS guide may be available for private tours should you wish to explore that option.
One added perk to staying in the same hotel in advance is that often you are given a very nice room (balcony,etc) by the hotel and you don’t have to move out of it when the tour starts.
Thank you all. Perhaps I was not really clear enough with my query. Yes, we are signed up for a Best of Spain tour which will start in Barcelona and end in Seville with Madrid as one of the middle stops. My plans, hopefully, will include some extra time in Barcelona before the tour and a side trip to Cordoba from Seville after the tour officially ends.
Specifically, I am interested in people who have made arrangements to stay in the tour hotels at either end of a Rick Steves tour AND/OR experience of whether or not the advertised room rate has been charged. And, yes, of course, I can, and will, ultimately contact the hotels themselves. (I am now out of commas :) )
The hotels are very nice, no question. And, yes, it is vacation and money is not the primary issue. However, two extra nights before and two extra nights after the tour would add nearly 900 Euros at the advertised prices and a quick 10 minute check shows multiple, lovely appearing, conveniently located AirBnB listings for well less than half these prices. I haven't even looked at other hotels or the RS Spain Guide yet.
Staying at a tour hotel has many advantages, I am just trying to assess the lay of the land. Thanks.
Out of 5 RS tours we’ve done it both ways, usually because we’ve waited to book for one reason or another and the hotel was full by the time we inquired. If you feel like there is a significant savings, and the location allows you to access the things you want to see, I’d go for it. We would choose to stay at the tour hotels because usually they are centrally located and it’s nice to only unpack once and generally it’s only a night or two extra.
I have always stayed in the same tour hotel for at least one night before the trip starts. There have been many times that I have been in-country for one night somewhere else as I transit to the tour starting point. But , like others have said, I like to just unpack once. There have been times that a reduced rate was offered and many times (like high season in Rome) when there was no discount. After the tour ends, I usually head straight home. This year on the Spain tour I will leave Sevilla and head to Madrid on the AVE. Yes, those room rates can be high, so it kinda depends on your budget and your willingness to move around. (Remember that if you check out by, say, 10am you may not be able to check in to the next hotel til in the afternoon). You can store your luggage at the new hotel, but that's not the same as having your luggage secure in your room.
Have a great tour! I'm really looking forward to Spain:)
I imagine it depends on the individual hotel and the season. Our tour hotel in Paris was pretty pricey for the extra night, whereas our hotels in Venice and Rome offered discounts for tour members. Other than our first night in Venice, when the tour rooms weren't available yet, each hotel has kept us in the same room as on the tour. Our hotel in Edinburgh for our upcoming Scotland tour said they can usually keep people in the same room. Don't think there was much of a discount there, if any.
I'm on the Best of Spain tour 17-30 June. I made my reservations with the first and last hotels of the tour as soon as I got my confirmation. I did them directly with the hotels by email. I'll get to stay in the same room as I'll have for the tour.
Based on the booking I did directly by email with the Hotel Granvia in Barcelona, I'm saving about 70€ per night (210€ for 3 nights). Including breakfast, I'm paying about 159€ per night. The one night price if I booked online today for my first night there, 14 June, is 229€ with breakfast.
The Hotel Amadeus in Seville is another story. I'm spending the night of 30 June there. The regular price I was originally quoted for a standard room was 160€ for 30 June. The deal they gave me is 135€. However, when I checked today, there's a big discount everywhere it's listed, so the price for the same kind of room is 95€. Who knows what it might be tomorrow? I'm happy to have it booked along with the knowledge that I can stay in the same room.
Doing the math, net savings is 210-40 = 170€. I'll take it.
We arrive 1-3 days early on three out of four RS tours, staying at the tour hotel. Each time we got a much better rate than the online booking rate. Each time we had to contact the hotel directly by email stating that we were on the RS tour starting on X date, at which time they offered a room at a specific rate. The online sites showed no availability. I inferred that the tour hotels block out a number of rooms for the early arrivals. I don't know if its the same rate that RS pays, but definitely lower than the non-tour rate. But these are generally small hotels so there are not many rooms.
I usually go a day or two early and stay a day or two later. The RS tour hotels are (generally) much nicer than I usually pick for myself. As you have the benefit of knowing where your hotel is located, look for alternatives that fit your budget nearby. When I did the Eastern Europe tour, I booked a pre-tour hotel literally around the corner from the tour hotel for half the price per night - that cost savings was enough to offset the inconvenience of having to switch hotels. For the Best of Spain tour the RS hotel was a full service business hotel in the old quarter (not my style or price range). I stayed about 5 blocks away in a smaller/quirkier hotel and just walked over in the morning the tour started. On the plus side, the RS tour hotels are usually well equipped to hold your bags if it is too early to check in.
Our experience was that some hotels were easy to book a few days before the tour started (Tallinn in Estonia comes to mind) and others were full (which seems to be the case for our upcoming tour of Sicily). I agree with the others who have said that it really depends on the hotel.