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RS tour with the best hotels

I'm trying to decide on my next RS tour. So far I have done GAS (My Way), Spain (My Way), Sicily, Turkey, and Greece. In my assessment -- as a single traveler who always does the Single Supplement -- the overall set of hotels for each of these tours got progressively better, with GAS having the worst and Greece having the best. Not that I will let a tour's overall hotel quality determine where I go next, but it is a factor, since I do enjoy quiet, comfortable sleeps when I travel.

For those of you RS tour multiple timers out there, which tour, in your experience, provided the best overall set of hotels? Consider bathrooms, breakfasts, showers, linens, views, amenities, charm, and other luxuries. Which tour provided the worst overall set of hotels?

Posted by
119 posts

I have not taken multiple RS tours (yet), but I did just return from the Best of Switzerland and paid for the single supplement. Of the six hotels, I only had a single bed in three hotels. I had a double bed or queen bed in the other three. One hotel had A/C, two hotels had fans. I had some stunningly beautiful views in some hotels and some hilariously horrible views in others. Overall, it was an incredible tour, and I highly recommend it!

Posted by
367 posts

Hi Lori:

I have taken 8 tours as a single. Several were before the supplement was an option. However, I think The Best of Switzerland had the best hotels, followed by Eastern France. Those are the only two I have done as a single with my own room.

On the best of Switzerland I had two hotels that had true singles. I.E. a twin bed and only one was really basic. At one stop the room had a double bed but the room was very small. All the others were double beds or larger. Just keep in mind that in some places a "double" is 2 twin mattresses and covers in one frame.

On the eastern France tour I was the only single and I always got at least a double bed. However, I did not pay the supplement so don't know if that made a difference. To my knowledge I only got one room they called a single and It was a small room with a double bed.

All the hotels were nice but I think the best of Switzerland were the winners.

Posted by
1186 posts

I have been on 14 RS tours. Some of the week long tours I repeated and so I stayed at the same hotel. I think it is a question that cannot be answered as the tours use several hotels and one tour could use 4 hotels and the next tour could use 3 out of the 4 hotels and the 4th hotel could be different than the previous tour. So you cannot say what tour has the best hotels. I went on the 14 day Ireland tour and stayed at Buswells in Dublin but many people who went on the 14 day Ireland tour and the 8 day Ireland tour do not stay at Buswells as RS uses different hotels in Dublin.

I have also read on this forum that people felt that the best hotels they stayed in was the GAS tour, not my Way just the GAS tour ( which I took and found all the hotels to be nice). I did have a large room with a nice bathroom in Salzburg but the room was very hot and it felt like the heat was on but it was September and there was no heat. Others also told the guide ( when he went around the bus asking about that hotel) their room was also hot. Others said there room was fine.

I too have traveled solo and do the Single Supplement. I had a room with a balcony in Switzerland and the other Single woman on the tour did not have a balcony. The room was plain, decent, nice size but I loved the Balcony and we both sat on it for a long while chatting. To me since I had a balcony and used it, it was for me the best room on the Best of Europe tour!

Posted by
3501 posts

Of the 10 RS tours I have taken as a single, the Best of Ireland had the best hotel rooms. I paid the single supplement and every room in every hotel was at least double bed sized in decent sized rooms. View varied with the first hotel we stayed in giving me the worst view which was of the trash receptacles of the next door restaurant. I was a late signup for this tour and they almost didn't have room for any more single supplements which may have impacted the rooms they had to choose from.

Worst was on the GAS tour. Many were nice, including the brand new place we stayed at while in Switzerland. Most were just OK. The absolute worst, and almost scary, place we stayed in was for our Munich nights. It was a 90 minute train ride outside of Munich itself (instead of actually in Munich which caused all sorts of logistical issues) and was going through renovations. It was a very very old house being turned into a hotel. The stairwell was actually loose and felt like it was going to give way and come crashing to the floor. Food sucked there too. It was, however, the largest room I had on that tour with a real king sized bed. :-)

You have to remember that there are a variety of hotels used on each of the various RS tours and they may not use the same ones any previous tour did. So my experiences may be completely different than yours on the same tour taken now. I can say that the overall quality of the hotels does seem to be improving every tour I take, which is probably due only to the overall average hotel in Europe is changing to be more like those found in the US with many of the quirky options used in years past closing down as the owners get too old to run them any more.

Posted by
64 posts

My hypothesis about the improvement of hotels over my five tours was that, in traveling from north to south, less money bought the tour higher classes of hotels. For instance, my rooms in both Vienna and Salzburg were uncharming, noisy, tiny, basic and in both cases, smoke-infused (i.e., Hotel Schweizerhof and Austrotel Hotel am Mirabellplatz). But Greece! Everything from the size of the rooms to the plushness of towels/sheets to warmness of the hotel owners to the softness of TP were luxurious by comparison.

So I am also wondering how much of these differences are culturally based. For instance, in Greece I almost always had a hot water kettle and fridge but in Spain didn't except for our first hotel in Barcelona. On the other hand, I couldn't deal with the shower type in Greece (no matter what I did, I got water all over the bathroom floor). Free water bottles always provided in Turkey (due to poor tap water quality) and the most delicious, fresh breakfasts. Terribly thin and stingy with the TP in Sicily...

All this said, I have found all of the RS hotels to be satisfactory in terms of cleanliness and safety. Standouts across all five tours have included:
- Leto Hotel, Hydra, Greece tour
- Marianna Hotel, Nafplio, Greece tour
- Upper Greek House, Cappadocia, Turkey tour
- Hotel San Gabriel, Ronda, Spain tour
- Domus Mariae, Ortigia, Sicily tour

Would also love to hear from the non-single-supplement folks as well.

Posted by
64 posts

Sorry! I forgot to make my point about my original hypothesis about the quality of hotels improving the further south I traveled... which also relates to the economic prosperity of these countries. I'm truly encouraged by the fact that Ann, Barbara, and Kristen all had such great experiences in Switzerland, which has got to be one of the most expensive countries in the ETBD lineup. Thanks for sharing that insightful data with me.

Posted by
2526 posts

After a number of Rick's tours, I can't pinpoint one tour that had significantly better or worse accommodations....all seemed to have great ones and then one or two in the mediocre category. If quality of accommodations to your standards is very important versus the itinerary, why not just book trips on your own? Given the fluidity of accommodations utilized on the various tours, trying to game the system to meet your requirements, seems fruitless.

Posted by
64 posts

Quality of accommodations isn't more important than the itinerary -- definitely not. I just haven't been able to decide on which tour to do next based on itinerary alone (or what is presented on the RS tour website), so am considering other factors. :-) Hotels just happen to be one.
The reason I enjoy doing RS tours -- as opposed to just booking travel alone -- is because I enjoy traveling with the birds of a feather that I have found my RS tourmates to be. I also learn SO much more when I have a tour guide than when I only have a book.

Posted by
6480 posts

" I just haven't been able to decide on which tour to do next based on itinerary alone (or what is presented on the RS tour website), so am considering other factors. :-) Hotels just happen to be one. "

Hi Lori, if you could tell us which few you are considering, the Forum participants who have been on all of those can weigh in on other factors to help you decide.

Posted by
64 posts

Great idea, Jean. I'm considering:

  • Adriatic
  • Best of Ireland
  • Portugal
  • Eastern Europe
  • Bulgaria
  • Prague & Budapest
  • Best of England

I know, such a long list!

Posted by
58 posts

Sorry, but hotels are just a place to sleep. I like to experience the culture with a group of new friends.

Posted by
1078 posts

We've done two RS tours, My Way BOE in 2013 as a triple (18 yo daughter in room with us) and My Way France last summer. There were definitely hits and misses on each one.

Being a triple sometimes worked for us and sometimes against. In Paris (7th, near Rue Cler), our room was a shoebox and the bathroom even smaller. We had stayed two nights before the tour in a junior suite with a huge bathroom, but had to move into a tour room for the next two nights, so by comparison it was a shock. In Beaune, we got two adjoining rooms and it was nice to have two bathrooms. In Lauterbrunnen, we were afraid for anyone else to see our room it was so big - four beds, a separate living area, huge balcony, actual closets. The rest were pretty nice. I should note if you're considering going as a triple, the second bed may sometimes be the equivalent of a fold-out, or a cot, so if the third is a full-sized, grown adult, it might not work for them. It was fine for an 18 yo girl but not for my husband, for example.
On the France tour, the highs were really high and the lows were LOW. Our hotel in Nice, based on our room, was completely unacceptable. We couldn't walk all the way around the bed, about a foot of the double mattress hung off the side of the foundation, the "air conditioning" was non-existent, and the shower was so small we had to turn off the water and open the door to lather. I am not a large person. It was laughable. Avignon room wasn't good but I think most rooms were better than ours, and the hotel was in a great location. We loved the Paris hotel on this trip (in the 14th), so much better than the one for BOE. Room still wasn't huge, but everything was better quality and the people who worked in the hotel were very nice. We stayed in a couple of chain hotels on this trip, too, which was strange for a RS tour, but the rooms were large and well appointed, and in great locations, so no complaints.
Best hotels were the ones I picked out myself for our trip this summer to Belgium, Germany and France. :)

Posted by
1284 posts

I took the Adriatic tour just this past Spring.
The hotels on this tour are, for the most part, a bit more "corporate" than the other tours I have been on.
Because of the history of the region, there just aren't a lot of small family run places to choose from, I think, and a lot of places are used to only booking rooms for a week or more at a time, not the 1 or 2 nights of a tour.
That said, all but one of the hotels were very comfortable with spacious and comfortable rooms and beds.
The one outlier was in Mostar, which was dark and a bit worn, but it was only for one night and it was SO worth it to be able to be in that area!
All of the breakfasts were wonderful, with a wide variety of choices and the standard cappuccino machine for as much coffee as we wanted. (Never the highest quality coffee, of course ...)
This is a great tour, especially if you are interested in the history of the region. There aren't a lot of art museums (I didn't go to any, even in my free time) but lots of Roman and Venetian ruins and tons of natural beauty.
I highly recommend it!

Posted by
106 posts

We took the Heart of France tour. The Paris room was as expected, small, yet in a nice hotel. We stayed in a Beautiful Chateau in Amboise because the regular RS hotel was under renovation. In the Chateau each room was different and quirky. We had a crazy big bedroom and an bathroom that required a step up and was quite small. One of the tour members had a hotel room in an outbuilding (a converted stable maybe). In their room, the bathroom was UP a set of stairs. I had wonderful hotels as a single on the RS Scotland tour. Except for the Royal Highland Hotel in Inverness. The single room was barely larger then the single bed, no place to put luggage. Being a short person I left it on the end of the bed. So not sure if there is a way to determine which tour has the best rooms.

Posted by
13253 posts

Lori, of the tours you are considering, I've done both Best of Ireland and Best of England. I had the single supplement for both of them -have always gotten the single supplement.

Best of Ireland - Dublin nights (beginning and end at that time) were in the Harding Hotel. I was there 2 nights ahead and think I had a room with a double bed. Kinsale, the room was across the entrance driveway in a separate building and was huge, double bed (maybe queen?), big bath. Dingle - Castlewood House and Oh My Word! This was one of the best rooms I've ever had. Double room. Shower and separate tub. Long counter in bathroom. Breakfast was amazing as well. Galway - yuck. It was like staying in the house of an elderly maiden aunt. Pillow was flat as a pancake. It was clean but that was about it. This was probably the lodging I have liked the least on any RS tour. Westport - only one night, barely remember it. Portrush - no real memory of this one either so it must have been OK. Our tour returned to Dublin for the final night. Harding was fine.

Best of England - Bath - Brooks House - was a smaller room but mine opened out onto a little garden. It was the single bed type room but it didn't bother me. I stayed there for 2 nights prior to the tour and the tour has 3 nights to start there. Stow-on-the-Wold - Old Stocks Inn which was really nice. Double bed, nice bathroom, fridge. Lovely and charming. Conwy - The Castle Hotel - double bed, large room. Don't remember the bathroom which means it was ok Keswick - The Crow Park. Very small room here. Single bed. My guide gave me a choice of room with a bathtub/no shower but a view OR a room with a shower and no view. I took the shower, then felt bad when I realized the bus driver had to have the room I didn't want. He was really tall and I can't imagine him in that tub! This was OK for 2 nights. I apologized to the bus driver, who I really liked and he just laughed. Said it didn't bother him, he often had that room and it was fine. The people at the hotel breakfast were so nice - it was clear they really liked the guide and driver duo and took great delight in teasing them. Very fun. York - The Churchill Hotel - again very nice. Double bed. My room was across the street from the rail line but the windows must have had triple glazing because it did not keep me awake. London - The Fielding - back to a single bed, OK size bathroom and shower. The other solo traveler had a large room with a double bed but then she stayed one extra night and they downsized her to a room like mine. This hotel did not have breakfast so on the RS days we were taken to a cafe nearby. I stayed here an extra 2 nights and just went around to the Starbucks or as the guide called it St. Arbucks - to worship at the feet of the blessed mermaid.

I've done 8 RS tours (all single supplement) and I find there are some hotels I like better, some not as much. They are all clean and well-located and except for the B&B in Galway, I would stay at all the tour hotels again. I generally expect smaller rooms in cities and larger rooms in small towns or villages. On the GAS tour in Muerren which is a pretty small village, I did have a small room with a single bed but I looked out on the Almendhubel and the Shilthorn which was just jaw-dropping. Again on the GAS tour in very small Hallstatt I had a huge room! I have also done 3 tours that were in Italy or had a few nights in Italy and I did not find that I necessarily had better lodging further south.

I love the Best of England tour, particularly the guide, the itinerary everything. Best of Ireland just did not click with me but I am in a minority with that opinion.

I would pick which area you want to see first and then go for it.

Posted by
64 posts

Pam, Celeste, Pissarro, and SharYn: Thank you for so much detail on your tour hotels! This is exactly what I wish we could read about in the Tour Trip Reviews. Of course, I realize you're stuck with whatever hotels that particular tour books with and that they vary from tour to tour. BUT your reviews give a helpful sense of what I might expect.

My goodness, I will have a hard time now trying to decide between the Adriatic and the Best of England based on SharYn and Pam's write-ups. And Pissarro and Celeste's reviews of their France hotels are extremely helpful for future reference.

I myself keep detailed notes on each tour hotel I stay in, firstly for journaling reasons but second, in case I decide to ever return to the region, I'll have a reminder of where to revisit and where to avoid.

Thank you all again!

Posted by
25 posts

Hi Lori - I've done 8 RS tours. I would say probably the best hotels were on the Best of Eastern France tour. Ireland was also quite good. You get Buswell's in Dublin and the AMAZING B and B's in Dingle. All of the Ireland hotels were good except for the one in Galway. Again, as others have said, are you there for the hotels or the sights. I understand why they use the one in Galway because it is in a fantastic, central location but it is in dire need of an update. If I recall the Best of Spain tour had pretty nice hotels as well, especially in Barcelona, the country hotel outside of Ronda and the incredible hotel in Arcos de la Frontera.

Posted by
14152 posts

Hotels, in my opinion, are hit or miss. (I think the guides try to even it out.) There have been some hotels I would happily stay in again and others I hope I never see. It really depends on the room. Some hotels I liked were hated by others and vice versa.

There are two things I learned to bring with me to make my rooms more comfortable-- an extension cord so I have no trouble with plugs, and a small fan to put on the nightstand near me so it is a little cooler and I sleep better. And of course eyeshades and earplugs.

Posted by
2117 posts

I've done four RS tours as a solo traveler - on three I shared with rotating roommates, the fourth I was lucky to be the only solo that did not pay the single supplement, so I got my own room anyway. I will say compared to other tour companies, the RS single supplement is a bargain. I recently booked a tour of South America where the supplement would have added 50% more to the cost (needless to say, I'll be taking my chances on a rotating roomie).

As others have said, there's a wide range of hotels used for each of the tours, and sometimes you win and some times you don't. With a few small exceptions, all of my tour hotels were extremely well located (center of town, near sites) which to me is one of the more important factors (over views/amenities). The guides on my tours tried to even out assignments for both couples and singles - for example, those with tiny rooms were offered larger rooms on the next stop. On one stop in Spain, two of us more adventurous solo travelers were put in a completely different boarding house from our tour group - it was a sign of our guide's faith that we were capable of handling the unusual situation (not all in our group were). On three occasions I stayed at hotels that were brand new to the tour - in those situations, the guides collected feedback about quality/etc. My somewhat dated input on hotels based on my experience:

  • Best of Italy (2004) - mostly fine hotels, but the best were the agriturismo La Rocca Orvieto (spectacular views and food) and Hotel Villa Steno in Monterosso (simply perfect food, view, staff, rooms). The absolute worst was in Venice - I don't recall the name, but they put is in an annex of a nicer hotel that smelled like cat urine.
  • Best of Ireland (2006) - Bambury's guesthouse in Dingle (divine food) without question was the best. The others were mostly unremarkable B&Bs and chain type hotels with average rooms and amenities.
  • Spain/Morocco (2010) - none of the Spanish hotels were particularly outstanding, but the beds were pretty firm or downright hard (not a problem for me, but others complained). The Dar Nour guesthouse in Tangier was amazing - food, views, rooms, luxury toiletries. Sadly the tour no longer goes to Morocco.
  • Eastern Europe (2012) - mostly business style hotels on this tour, with the exception of the Hunguest Hotel Flora in Eger. That hotel wasn't particularly well located, but it was very quiet and had hot spring pools.

Personally, if I was choosing another RS tour, I'd focus on priority destinations and activities over potential hotel choices, but as some others have said, I view the hotel as mostly for sleeping (with appropriate earplugs).

Posted by
1006 posts

Only been on 3 rs tours. First was 14day best of Ireland in aug 2014. Stayed at buswells (fantastic hotel!), kenmare (friar) was nice, dingles ( two b& b, castlewood and heatons, food and accommodations great!, galway (3 b & B's they were fine), Westport night fine, portrush was a ramada inn (not sure if it is same as our American Ramanda inn) it was fine also. Then back to Buswells in Dublin.

The other trip was the Holland/Belgium 2016..... loved Ghent (harmony hotel.... large large room for husband and I, we were in the top penthouse floor. only two rooms up there. Brugge was great, delft was great. but did not like Amsterdam.

Barcelona/Madrid 2017 - NH Barcelona centro was good but did not like Madrid.

Posted by
51 posts

I did Best of Eastern Europe this summer and i thought the hotels were nice. The importance of a decent hotel, is that you are very busy and you just want a good nights sleep. If the room is too noisy or hot , then it can ruin your next day. Most of our hotels had air conditioning with the exception of the National Park and Krakow. I also called the Rick Steve's office and asked a lot of questions about the specific hotels before booking. They were very nice and gave me plenty of information. When you narrow down your choice, I am sure they will give you a likely list of hotels. In addition, you are always at the mercy of the hotel and some rooms are frankly better than others. Since my name is at the end of the alphabet I felt like often times we did not get the best room. If you are interested in this tour, I would not let the hotels hold you back.

Posted by
2053 posts

Hi Lori, I've done 8 RS tour since 2007 and the hotel accommodations have gotten better each year. There were some "misses" but none of the hotels were terrible.