We're hoping to take the 14 day BOE tour next spring and would like to have an extra day or two in Paris at the beginning and again in Rome at the end. I presume that we'll be notified of our hotels before departure and that probably it would be best to spend the extra nights there. Does this turn out to be the most economical choice? The most practical? Will we be able to book them ahead of time from the US?
Abiddle: Yes, maybe, yes, and yes.
You will be notified in good time of your first and last hotels. At that point, you can check with the hotels to find out the rates for extra nights. Be sure to tell them you're on a Rick Steves tour; there is often (not always) a discounted price for tour members.
It may not be the most economical, but if you're only adding a night or two it may be the most practical. It can take more time than you think to pack, check out, get yourself to another hotel, check in, unpack... Generally, if we're only staying one extra night, we stay in the tour hotel. If we're staying longer than that, we may well move to something more economical. In some cities (Palermo and Paris, for example) our tour hotels were in our price range, and we stayed there. In others (London, Florence), the tour hotel was way out of our financial comfort zone, and we booked a different hotel both before and after the tour.
You will be able to book any hotel ahead of time, from the US. Most of the hotels prefer you book by email; some will point you to their website instead.
As soon as you find out the rates in the tour hotels, you can start comparing other hotels in the city in which you'll be. Use recommendations from folk here on the Forum, Trip Advisor, or your great-aunt Sadie. Then you can decide whether to stay in the tour hotel, or move to one that is cheaper, or closer to the sites you want to see, or just more interesting.
When you're inquiring about rates at any hotel, not just the tour hotel, be sure to ask for the Rick Steves rate. It can be cheaper, especially if it's a hotel in one of Rick's books.
As Jane indicated, yes, yes, and yes. Once you book the tour, you should be able to call or email the office and get the name of the first and last hotels even before they are mailed to you. Then email the hotels directly, mention your are going to be part of the RS Tour and ask about the possibility of staying in the same room before / after the tour as during the tour. Do not wait too long to do this as some of the hotels fill up fast. We've done this many times and have always had good luck with our request. The prices are reasonable, the convenience of not having to change rooms or hotel is priceless, and booking ahead by email has never been a problem. If you do not want to send your credit card info (to secure the booking) via email, let them know that and ask if you can telephone them with the particulars. Again, we've done it this way many times without any problems at all.
I agree with Jane, altho I usually stay in the tour hotel before and after, regardless, BUT none of mine have been out of my price range. I know there have been several comments from folks about some of the London tour hotels being fairly high priced. With the Paris and Rome hotels you'll probably be fine.
For me it's the most practical. I don't like to move hotels! I did, however, at the end of the Paris and Heart of France tour move to a different hotel as I was more comfortable in another neighborhood on my own, but I've been to Paris a number of times so have ideas of where I am comfortable as I travel solo.
You will get the names of the first and last hotels right after you sign up for the tour. I encourage you to go ahead and book as soon as you can for those hotels as they do fill up. I also have had the experience when the hotel online booking engine said the hotel was full but I emailed, said I was on an RS tour and were there rooms available that weren't showing and got in both times. (One was the hotel in Haarlem for the 21 BOE and one for the hotel in Trier for the GAS tour.) I also tend to book the hotel rooms that are refundable. Many will have a non-refundable rate that is a bit cheaper but I like the flexibility in case something comes up.
I would definitely go for 2 extra nights before the start of your trip. That will give you a good amount of time to recover from jet lag and will cover your bases if there are any screw-ups or delays to your flights. There is SO much to see in Paris and it is pretty easy to get around. If you are not comfortable with the Metro there you can walk to lots of places. Your guide will give you a Metro lesson as well! If you can manage 2 more nights in Rome, go for it, if not then 1 is OK.
You are going to have SO much fun!!
editing to add: By the way, the tour hotels are of course used to having first time American tourists and are usually very, very helpful. Almost all the desk staff will speak some English and will give you maps, directions and suggestions for restaurants! Smiles, please and thank you in the local language (even mangled like mine!!) go a long way!
It may or may not be the most economical money wise but for a short term stay it will certainly be the most practical as you won't have to move. I would not move if I were only staying one extra day on each end of the trip but I would be tempted to do it if I were staying at least two days and there was another area of the city I wanted to explore more fully. It's easy enough to check out and drop your bags off at a new hotel even if you can't check in early. They should have a secure place to store your bags for you. You will have plenty of time to book in advance of your trip. You might also call the RS office to get the names of your beginning and ending hotels and then question the forum for interesting areas to stay/investigate in Paris and Rome based on your interests.
We added a few days at the end of our Best of Spain tour. When looking at the website the upgraded rooms looked a lot nicer and were only a bit more expensive. I booked those by emailing the hotel and asking if we could have that size room from the time we checked in with the tour. We went back and forth a few times. But, when we arrived in Sevilla we had a huge room with splendid bath. We saw other rooms, not nearly as luxurious. Try this if you want to spread out a bit more at the end.
We have taken 14 RS tours and always reserve time before and/or after the tour sometimes at the tour hotel. If wanting to spend time at the tour start or end, say a couple of days, we contact the first and/or last hotels whose names are provided by RS folks some time before the tour begins. We check out the hotels web sites prior to making any reservations to get a feel of their price range for what types of rooms. Then we contact the hotel directly saying that we will be staying at their hotel as a part of the RS tour and would like to reserve a room that we can stay in once the tour begins/ends and ask what price it would cost. We then compare their quoted price with the information we got from their web site to see if we might want to book a better room and if so, offering to pay the difference between the better room and the RS room price once the tour begins/ends. This has worked out most every time we have gone to take a RS tour. Only occasionally has the hotel responded that it has no other rooms available other than for the RS tour time to which we ask them for a recommendation of a close by similarly price property. This has always worked in this rare situation. Some years we spend time in another European city or country before heading for the tour city. This year we spent a week in London before flying to Lisbon. I think that only on one or two occasions have I resorted to calling the hotel due to my impatience with their response to my e-mails. Happy travels.
Many thanks to all of you who took the time and trouble to reply to my post. I have never taken a RS tour before, but your helpful attitude suggests the kind of people I'll meet and hopefully befriend on my trip. Can't wait!!!
I must agree with all the others. I usually book the tour hotel, if only adding a couple of days. Always contact the hotel directly. I have had good luck emailing my request. I let the hotel know that I will be member of RS tour and the date. Then, I request a reservation with the possibility of having the same room as on the tour. This has not failed, yet.
You might want to consider other options if you want to stay longer than 4 or so days. My husband and I added a week to one of our tours that ended in Paris. I think it was Paris and the Heart of France, which began and ended in Paris. We decided we did not want a hotel room, so we opted for an apartment. It was such a pleasure, and was not much more than a hotel. We economized and bought breakfast items, coffee, and snacks. I even cooked dinner one evening.
The pros were: Being able to come and go without leaving the room key and bothering the clerk, space, kitchen for light cooking, feeling like a real Parisian (wink, wink). Just about the only con was no one to make my bed each day.
I hope you enjoy your tour!!
We took same tour , but it was Family 14 day that started in Rome and ended in Paris.
We flew into Paris and stayed 5 dsys there first , i booked a hotel myself. We then flew to Rome , arriving three days before tour, we stayed at hotel tour started in...it was easiest and price was good.
However went tour ended in Paris we were staying another 7 days and hotel in Paris was more then i wanted to pay and location was not as central , so we moved to another hotle i found.
If you are only adding a day or two there is no need to change hotels, but personally i think you should try and add as many days to rrip as possible, paris really needs 4-5 full days , tour gives you only two( really only 1.5 as tour ends on morning of second night.!!! So try and add at least 3 nights! 4 would be better, pretty much same for Rome, read itinerary and you see that you vasically get only 1.5 days in each city
Hi, by now you know to book a day or two before and after the tour. You will love the BOE tour, I took it in Sept 2014 and I have take 13 RS tours mostly solo! Always go to Europe at least the day before the tour, you need to, to help with the jetlag! If it is only the day before, I stay at the same hotel. It just makes sense, not to have to move from hotel to hotel. I generally like to stay at the same hotel before or after the trip. Unless you know of a hotel you like better and want to stay there, but this being your first trip, stay at the same hotels before and after. You will love Paris, and stay as long as you can before and Rome too. Rome is great as you will have some sense as to how to use the metro and what the city looks like since the guide will be showing you around and you can ask the guide where things are that you want to see when you are on your own.
Yes, once you book the tour, you will be receive the first and last hotels and then be able to book your extra nights. I never had a problem and did it once I booked my tour. Then a month before the tour you will get the list of names of people on the tour and the list of hotels.
Hint, if you know what tour, then book it before Dec 1 or during the festival weekend in Janurary and you get $100.00 off the tour.
This will at least offset some of the cost of the first night hotel.
Have a great time!!
Thanks, Ann, and all the rest of you helpful folks.
I will chime in and echo what most here have said. We stayed 2 nights pre-tour for our 21 day BOE tour. We did not stay in the tour hotel in Haarlem, we stayed at an old hotel in Amsterdam. I was very happy with this hotel. After our tour we chose to move to another hotel for 2 more nights in Paris. This choice was a bad one. The new hotel was no where near as wonderful as the tour hotel and we really regretted not staying there for those extra nights.
I think there is something to be said about familiarity. You will have acclimated yourself to the area by staying in the same hotel. The subway system in Paris is much more extensive than the one in Rome. If you can navigate the subways in a city like NYC, then you will be very comfortable in Paris :) If you aren't comfortable with the Metro in Paris there is much to see by just walking. I recommend you make a list of everything you want to see in those cities then compare it to the list of things you will be doing on your tour. Having those extra days will definitely help you see all you want to see!
One problem we had with our extra day reservations was that we booked an upgraded room before are tour began in Paris. We did not receive that room but the tour room. After we got a manager involved we were upgraded to the room we reserved and paid for. Maybe when we checked in they thought we wouldn't noticed what had happened. Luckily I had the reservation paperwork with me.
We just finished this tour. We flew into Paris but then went to Normandy before the tour started for 3 days. (we have been to Paris before) at the end we moved to a Marriott on points but it was walking distance to our tour hotel.
Our other tours we stayed in different areas of town before and after to get a different taste of the cities.
Enjoy your trip!