We have put deposits on Best of London and Best of Paris for 9/16. We are planning on arriving a few days in advance and staying on a few days after our tours are completed. We have the names of the hotels we will be staying at and wonder when most people make reservations to stay in the same hotel for our pre/post stay. We would like to stay in the same place, think others will do the same, so want to be sure to get a reservation. Also, what is the best way to approach this? Is it best to email the hotel and explain you are on a RS tour? I know this is early planning, but since this is our first RS tour, just want to get a feel for what others have experienced with pre/post stays. Thanks!
Yes, email the hotel, and be sure to tell them you'll be on a RS tour staying there. Often you can get a great rate. But I've noticed a disturbing trend the last couple of years: expensive tour hotels. Our Best of London hotel this last February was 240 GBP a night for the two nights before the tour, and 160 GBP a night after the tour - with no breakfast. We found another hotel for those nights. And we just signed up for the new Villages of South England tour, and the first hotel wants 270 GBP for the night before the tour! That's $400! (I will admit that I got that price from their website, not from emailing them.)
So check the price they offer you, then check other hotels in the area. The hotel we stayed at for Best of Paris several years ago was in our price range, so we didn't have to change. Check around.
We are going on The Village Italy tour and are going to Venice for two days ahead. I emailed the hotel I chose directly. Since Venice isn't part of the tour and I really wanted to see it. At first the hotel said no rooms...they only book three nights during high seasons. I emailed them back and told them we were joining a RS tour and they found us a room for the two nights. And they were super nice about it. offered discount if we pay cash...plus RS discount...we leave this Friday.. 😀😀🍷🍷✈️✈️
I would not book the hotels until after 9/15 so that there is not any confusion that you might arrive this September.
I think Sue has an excellent point about waiting until after this Sept to book for 2016.
I usually go to the hotel website and book thru there adding a note saying I am joining a RS tour. I'm staying in tour hotels pre-tour this year for both Best of England (price for a single ranges from 90£ to 124£ depending on the day of the week) and post tour (135£ and they apologized that the rate was more due to it being the Rugby World Cup) as well as pre-tour for the Paris and Heart of France (180€).
This year the hotel in Bath before the Best Of England only had a single for one night so I booked a single for that night and a double for the 2nd night pre-tour. I had an email exchange with them about moving rooms and they indicated they would let me know if something changed. I was shocked a couple of weeks ago to get an email saying a single room was now available and they would have me stay in that room for both my pre-tour nights and the tour nights. Very, very nice of them.
I have not found the rooms to be much higher than I would normally pay. The post tour nights in London are a lot cheaper than I am paying for a few days when I first arrive. In Paris I am moving to a different hotel from the one that is the last night on the tour as I wanted to be in a different neighborhood and I am paying 170€ which is pretty similar to the rate in the 1st hotel.
For me it is easier just to be in one hotel. I want to get my laundry started, lol and settle in!
Last year I waited a bit before trying to book the 1st night in the tour hotel and they showed full on the hotel website. I went to Booking.com and they came up with a vacancy, so I then emailed the hotel and yes, they booked me in.
Have a wonderful time on your tours! I would mark the calendar so you can buy your Eurostar tickets (I assume you will use this method of transport between the 2 cities?) as soon as they are up for sale. They are SO much cheaper then!
I always contact the hotel via email as soon as I receive the hotel list. They have come much earlier the last few tours I have taken. I always state that I am part of RS tour for (dates). Then I request a room and, if possible, the same room that I will have for the tour. So far, I have always gotten a room. The hotel and I will send couple of emails back and forth until arrangements finalized. They have always asked for credit card information, this is use to hold the room.
If you know the number of days pre/post you plan to stay, I would go ahead and contact the hotel. I have seen posts where some were unable to reserve a room or did not get the same room.
I would have said the same thing that Debra said. I always book a room at the first tour hotel a couple of days before the tour begins and always tell them, via e-mail, that I will be joining a RS tour that starts at their hotel and I want a room pre-tour that I can stay in while on tour. Post tour varies from staying one more night since tours are over right after breakfast or moving on to my next stop.
This has worked for me for the last 13 RS tours. I too wait until I get that RS mailing showing first and last hotel to start reserving.
I am going on the Best of Turkey Tour in March 2016. After getting the initial email confirmation with the first & last hotels, I reserved the first night pre-tour at the group's hotel in Istanbul. The process was so easy-I'm sure that hotels are used to these types of requests for RS tours. I emailed and explained what I needed, and in response I received instructions and a fax to fill out with credit card and other details. Just make sure you FAX any credit card info, unless you're directed to use a secure website to make your reservation.
We've always contacted the hotel my email and on occasion have followed up by phone. Don't think we've ever had a problem. As someone suggested, it's not a bad idea to check other hotel prices just to compare.
We stayed before and after on both of our RS tours (Paris city tour and Barcelona-Madrid). For the Paris tour, we stayed for two nights in the tour hotel (Londres Eiffel). It was a bit expensive, but it was nice to get used to the hotel and the neighborhood. At the end of the Paris tour, we moved by foot to the Hotel du Champs de Mars - great location and much cheaper. On the Barcelona-Madrid tour, we stayed in the tour hotel in Barcelona for two nights before the start of the tour, and two nights in the Madrid hotel at the end of the tour. We contacted the hotels directly and mentioned that we were on a Rick Steves tour. We did notice that tour members on the Spain trip did the same but booked at varying prices.
I need to add a comment to my earlier post. I did finally email the Canterbury hotel that the RS Villages of South England will be starting from, identifying myself as a member of the tour. They quoted me a rate of 135 GBP for a double, half the rate of 270 given on their website. Much more reasonable, although I may still look for something cheaper. And they want a deposit of 135 GBP when the reservation is made. Not just the credit card info in case you don't show, but a pre-paid deposit of 135, refundable if the reservation is cancelled at least 48 hours before arrival date. (Our Bath hotel wants a deposit as well, but they keep 20 pounds if you cancel at any time!)
So the lesson is, email the hotel directly, and be sure to identify yourself as a tour member.
Unless you really need to stay in the same hotel as the tour pre and post, in those two cities I think you will save a bit of money if you look elsewhere for nearby hotels to move from/to. Up to you, and money may not be your primary concern, but my experience from the London tour was that I saved quite a bit by moving to a different hotel after the tour.
Pam, what hotel is the one in London your tour ends up at? When we did Best of London this year, the tour hotel was outrageously expensive (IMO), so we moved to a much cheaper one. We're going to be in London again in the spring, and are looking for options. We'll probably stay in the cheap one we already know about, or another that was recommended on this site. But I'd love to hear about other affordable ones.
Jane, we end up the Best of England at The Fielding Hotel. My room rate is 135£/night for a single. I don't remember what the initial price was on the website but I have a return email from them indicating the price was increased due to the Rugby World Cup.
I am most appreciative of the answers to my question from seasoned travelers. One of the reasons for us taking the BOL and BOP is so that we don't have to change hotels every few nights. It's nice to be settled in one place. But, since I'm an obsessive planner, I will check to see what rates will be offered pre/post our tours and compare with other hotels. It's very helpful to get other hotel ideas, so thanks for those tips. I plan to contact the places we will be staying on the RS's tours in mid-October.
Thanks, Pam, as always. I'll check out the Fielding. This last February we stayed at the Kensington Gardens for less than 100GBP after our Best of London tour. It was perfectly adequate - very clean, good location, good breakfast. The only problem we had was at the end of our stay: we didn't mind the lack of a lift - and we were on the 4th (5th American) floor, until I became ill. Then it was a problem. I have no qualms about returning, but I'd like to check out a few other places before reserving.