Looking over the RS itinerary for a 8 day tour of Scotland I notice no hotels are listed. In general how are the accommodations that the Rick Steves tour provide? Can anyone answer?
Unlike some other tour companies, RS doesn't list their hotels ahead of time. Probably because they tend to be smaller, family run places, and can vary on different dates of the same tour.
I have found them to vary quite a bit, some are wonderful, some are good. Locations tend to be very good. I agree with what is offered here:
First and last hotels received when you sign up, the rest about 30 days before your tour.
I haven't been on the Scotland tour. I have gone on 4 RS tours other places and have only had one hotel/hotel room that was an issue. When I brought the issue to the guide's attention, arrangements were immediately made for me to move to another room which was satisfactory.
The hotels can range from super modern business hotels to small family run establishments. They look for location, consistent quality, and then "charm." I would say that there have been far more family run hotels than business hotels. I've stayed in some basic hotels (if that was all there was in the area) and in some luxury hotels.
They will tell you the first and last hotels for your tour when you register. That way, you have the information if you want to make arrangements to stay either before or after the tour in the same hotel. 30 days out from your tour, they post the hotel names and also the first names of your tour mates.
There are scrapbooks from previous years online and you could explore through some of them to get a sense of what the hotels are like. You need to be prepared for some stairs. Usually there is air conditioning, but not always.
My first RS tour was the longer tour of Scotland, in 2017. (It didn't include Glasgow at the time.) All but one of the hotels were what I consider a near-boutique hotel, with comfortable, stylish, and even luxurious accommodations. The only one that was more, shall we say, humble was the Kenmore Hotel, in the tiny town of Kenmore, and it was my favorite. Atmospheric and old and creaky and just lovely, with a great bar.
I went on the RS 10 day tour of Scotland in September 2017 as a solo traveler. All the hotels were very nice. I stayed in the first one in Edinburgh, "The Place", a few days before the tour started. I also loved the small hotel in Kenmore. It was actually the biggest room I had on the whole tour! My single room in Inverness, sorry don't remember the name of the hotel, was the smallest but still nice. I think you'll be satisfied with the lodgings, and Scotland is wonderful!
We just came back from the 13 day Scotland tour. The hotels were the weakest part of an otherwise very nice trip. We were not happy with few of the hotels. The one in Oban in particular was very poor. The hotels in Glasgow and Dunkeld were the exception as they were pretty nice.
Welcome to the forum!
It would be helpful if you told us what led to your poor experiences.
We've been on 2 RS tours; out of the hotels in the tours, there was only one where the A/C in the room was substandard, but other than that, we liked all the hotels.
On our last trip to Tuscany, all the accommodations were excellent; my wife and I have learned to pack in carryon-size suitcases, have worked to lower their weight, and that's helped immensely. There were a couple of rooms that required steps, but by and large we were able to use elevators.
I've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the places we've stayed; I was actually expecting less rather than more.
It looks like many people are saying "the hotels are fine", but I don't think that's a good statement. They are fine to me. But it depends on what you are looking for.
Some other tour companies stay at more "american style" hotels.
Some tour companies stay at "luxury" hotels.
Rick Steves tends to stay at boutique or family-run hotels. Smaller, closer to the heart of town, sometimes charming, sometimes more basic. I like them. But I don't think they are for everyone.
Last year, on the Best of South Italy tour, we stayed at a fantastic hotel in the town of Matera. At the breakfast line, I overheard some ladies talking about their tour and I asked them what tour company, and they said "Collette". (sp?). They asked me and I said "Rick Steves" and they got excited and animated. After disappointing them with the news that, "no, Rick isn't on our tour" (does everyone ask that question?), one of them said "oh, I could never go on one of his tours, you have to carry your own luggage!" I noticed that they were dressed quite well, some with (fancy?) jewelry. I was dressed, as always, in convertible pants (zip-off leggings) and a polyester workout shirt that is very easy to wash in the hotel room and dry hanging up. I would not say any of our tourmates were badly dressed, but none seemed to consistently dress "to the nines", so to speak. It's a different tour experience.
Our friends took a high end tour (either Tauck or National Geographic or Smithsonian) and got to stay at the Hotel Danieli. Alas, I will never get to stay at a place like that! But having said that, I admit that I am very happy with the Rick Steves' hotels and tours in general. Heck, We are going on our 4th tour next month, and have already booked our fifth tour for next year!
Note that I'm not trying to say it's better or worse, just trying to say it's not for everyone, and saying "oh, the hotels are great" may not be helpful if the person on the receiving end has different criteria in hotels.
I agree with your comments. Yes, people seem to think Rick leads all the tours.
I also take some Odysseys Unlimited tours, and find the putting the luggage out to be carried for you a bit silly. I'd just as soon take it myself. If RS traveled outside Europe I'd take them--I prefer them for a number of reasons.
We did the former Scotland tour pre- COVID. Our hotels were quite good overall. The BnB in Edinburgh and Oban were particularly lovely, comfortable, and upscale. Inverness was pretty awful ( bathroom floor dotted with rodent droppings), but it was not the usual hotel used on the tour. Filter this forum for “Scotland tour hotels” to glean more specific information.
In 9 RS tours we have had some rooms that were clean and comfortable., but we have had many rooms that were sub- optimal. For us that means one very small ( smaller than queen size) bed, no place other than the bed to sit in the room, awkward and/ or moldy bathrooms, no/ few outlets, no closets or drawers, insects or other pests, multiple flights of steep winding stairs to reach your room.
Everyone has different priorities, but for us the hotel rooms are the weakest link of the RS business model. At the end of a long day we need somewhere to sit comfortably, we need to have enough bed space that one of us doesn’t tumble out, we need to be able to shower safely without doing acrobatics to hoist ourselves over the steep walls of a slippery tub, and to sleep without worrying about critters crawling over us in the night. We prefer not to have to traverse many flights of steep winding stairs because we are of an age where a stumble could bring disaster.
I agree with Tony and LizinPA. I will take my 9th tour next month. I learned to travel via Rick's guides starting back in the mid 1980s. That set my expectations for their tours. I have only had one very bad room (in Mont St. Michelle.) There is usually one on every tour that is not as easy to love as some and I have found several bathtubs with those high walls almost too high for me to get over. But unless I am having a very bad day, I smile and look up to the clouds and say, "Thanks, Mom, I know this is just part of the travel experience." I called my mother the Nebraska Philosopher and like most Moms she provided many sayings and rules by which I still lead my life at the advanced age of 78.
I also agree with Tony and Liz. We have had utterly lovely rooms and IKEA type rooms that were 10 years old and sprinkled with sand. We had one hotel we weren't to drink the water (issued a water bottle apiece) and then a 4 star Villa with gorgeous gardens. It’s a wide variety on all tours and we just take what we are given. Wouldn’t consider taking anyone else’s tours besides Rick Steves unless they were free, and even then we might say no!
But - we also know they’re not for everyone.
We did the 8 day tour of Scotland last October. The hotel in Inverness was the Glen Moor and it was OK. Some of the other tour members had complaints and one couple requested another room. Breakfast was really good with lots of choices.
The second hotel on our tour probably won't be on this year's tour I'm guessing. The usual hotel was under reconstruction and we ended up at the Loch Rannoch Resort. Very nice hotel and because there is nothing else around it we had both dinners with the group, there was no where else to go out to eat.
The hotel in Edinburgh was the Wilde Aparthotel on the SW side under the castle. Modern hotel with a mini kitchen and again a nice breakfast. It is in the Grassmarket area which is close to a lot of restaurants, but not really close to any of the tram stops, so we ended up taking a taxi to the airport at the end of the tour.
We really enjoyed the tour and my wife was glad to have someone else do the driving after we spent the previous week driving the one lane roads in the Highlands on our own. Bring a good rain jacket.