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Upgrading Rooms Gauche?

Rick's tours typically give us a chance to add an extra day or two before our initial and/or after our final Rick Steves hotel reservation. So, I know that's okay. Plus, I like the hotels and I like that they are a good value, have charm, and are not cookie cutter large chain lodging. But, is it okay to upgrade the mid-tour hotels? I just booked an upgrade to a nicer room at one of the mid-tour hotels. Of course I'm paying the upcharge for a larger room with a veranda and better view, out of my own pocket. Is that okay to do, or am I getting myself into a Larry David situation? I recall getting our room numbers while on the bus, before arrival at the hotel. Part of Rick Steve's back door is to be frugal, and I'm not the type who could ever appreciate a $10,000 a night room in Paris, even if I could afford it.

But, on one Rick Steve's tour we got a Parisienne room that was tight with a view of a wall. You could barely get to the closet because the end of the bed was just below a wall mounted TV. As we were leaving the hotel, we noticed the room on the opposite corner of the floor was arranged such that there was space to walk around the end of the bed, and you could see the top half of the Eiffel Tower out of the window. That was okay, somebody in our group got to enjoy that room. But, I would like to have a nice room if possible. My wife always reminds me how tight the Rick Steves hotel bathroom was in Palermo. Any thoughts?

Posted by
11386 posts

I’d do it in an instant. While we’ve never taken a RS tour, we have had plenty of rooms where an extra fee would’ve made for a more pleasant stay and we do that routinely now.

Posted by
8533 posts

It sounds like you're paying for two rooms: the one RS has reserved and will be paying for at their special group rate, and the one you reserved for yourself. I'd call the tour office and discuss.

Given the general nature of their hotels - small, central, quirky - most of the hotels we stayed on the tours had some rooms better than others. Like with a view or not. The tour leaders have always tried to rotate the better rooms among the group so nobody always got stuck with the lesser rooms.

Posted by
14089 posts

I don't think it's a problem at all to pay for an upgrade over tour room rate. I wish I'd thought to do that at my hotel in Varenna. I went a few days early and had a "room with a view" that was wonderful and it was a let down to move to the much smaller room, lol.

No one on the tour is going to know you are paying for an upgrade and no one expects you to be frugal.

Posted by
843 posts

I’ve read your questions a couple of times now to try and understand what you’re asking. First whether you add a few days before or after your tour is dependent on whether the particular hotel has availability and it’s all done on your own. RS doesn’t get involved although you might be able to request and get the same room as your tour room so you don’t have to move. As far as whether you can get upgraded rooms during your tour, you’re going to have to ask the RS tour office. Unless things have changed, we’ve never experienced anyone doing that on the 11 tours we’ve done. The tour guide has always assigned rooms and tried to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to be in one of the nicer rooms at some point on the tour.

Edit: I guess I’ll just add that if you don’t like the rooms on RS tours why not just book a tour with another group like Tauck that stay in 5 star hotels? If you’re continually getting upgraded rooms and even though you’re paying for the room there is bound to be some ill feelings within the group, right or wrong.

Posted by
89 posts

We usually travel during my partners birthday. First RS tour we took, I called the office to ask if it was OK to get an upgraded room when we would be in Florence over Bob’s birthday.

Was told to just be discrete about it and to be aware it could cause hard feelings with other travelers if they did not understand.

On the tours we have been on, the guides have done a good job of rotating the rooms with great views, as it one city you might have a good room/view and the next city someone else will and you might be in a smaller room or on without a view.

Posted by
7501 posts

By the same token, if there was a group tour and you wanted a special drink or dessert, would you permit yourself to order that, even if others at the table didn’t?

Posted by
2437 posts

We arrived a few days early for our RS Southern Italy tour. I booked upgraded rooms for our stay at the tour hotel before the tour. The front desk asked us if we would like to upgrade our tour room. We didn’t but could have.

Posted by
2141 posts

I don’t think it’s a problem to upgrade your room if you can figure out how to do that. I guess you’d need to contact the hotel directly and make a deal with them to pay the difference in price. I don’t know how your tour mates would know unless you tell them. I would mention it to your tour guide on day 1.

Posted by
386 posts

if there was a group tour and you wanted a special drink or dessert, would you permit yourself to order that, even if others at the table didn’t?

That's an extra, not a substitute for what everyone else gets. I think a better analogy would be refusing the food served at group dinners and instead ordering the most expensive plates on the menu.

Posted by
7349 posts

”I just booked an upgrade to a nicer room at one of the mid-tour hotels. Of course I'm paying the upcharge for a larger room with a veranda and better view, out of my own pocket.”

Enjoy your upgraded room! I think the only sticky situation you could encounter would be if you’re thinking this upgrade is helping you avoid a lesser room at another hotel. Or, if you begin to compare your regular RS lottery of room choices after this location to this nicer one and feel let down.

One comment I will make is that the RS tours are busy. We had a wonderful view hotel on the Adriatic tour in a small village for two nights, but we barely had any time at that hotel since we were out touring both days. I happened to have one of the worst rooms with no view there, but I could walk out on the large terrace and enjoy the expansive view anyway. I would check the itinerary for those days at your location to make sure it’s actually worth it for you.

Posted by
3167 posts

I don’t take tours, but I can’t see that arranging and paying for an upgraded room is anyone else’s business but yours.
You aren’t getting a “better deal” on the tour; you are paying more out of your own pocket, for a room that is more suitable for your needs.
Why would you have to inform the tour guide?
Or is that just so that the guide knows where everyone is, in case of emergency, for example?
If other tour members mention it, just tell them you prefer more space for your own mobility.
None of them need to know at all that you have paid more to upgrade, and if there are “ill feelings” from someone who did find out, I’d say that was their problem, certainly not yours!

Posted by
1145 posts

Why would you have to inform the tour guide?

The guide normally tries to rotate rooms so that everyone gets a stay in the better rooms. If they're not aware of the side deal and the clerk at the desk (who may not be the manager that agreed to the upgrade) doesn't mention it then you may end with a room from the usual rotation.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for all the comments. As I suspected, we need to be discrete and flexible. Conspicuous luxury is not our main travel goal. One of the best RS times we had was in Trapani, Sicily where the wine is cheaper than soft drinks. You bring your own container and the shop owner dispenses directly from the cask. We, and another couple travelling with us, sat on the curb with pizza from across the street and wine glasses with an exceptionally good vintage. As for Tauck, google tells me a 14 day tour, The Classic Italy Escorted Tour 2024-2025, starts at $10,290 USD per person. That offends my cashmere blend, limited run, black, Costco sport coat mentality. I dressed "quiet luxury" before it was a thing, but never the over-priced designer stuff. My son bought a pair of $800 linen pants the other day. Okay, but doesn't his car need some bodywork and paint. Don't worry, he'll never read this.

WARNING, THE FOLLOWING IS MORE LONG STORY
I'm a lowly electrical engineer, but the company I worked for flew me business class to Tokyo for work six times one year. At the time if you had an American Express Platinum card you could get a complimentary business class companion ticket with the purchase of a full fare business class ticket. Maybe you still can. Anyway, paying for the AMEX Platinum seemed worth it to me since the company was paying my full fare ticket and I could bring someone along business class for free. Then, I decided to book a hotel in Paris through the Platinum AMEX travel service. The deals were amazingly, ridiculously bad. With a $10,000+ USD per night room I could get half off the next night. I tried to imagine how much better my sleep would have to be to appreciate the hotel, since I wanted to see Paris, not the inside of a luxury hotel. Plus, that was above my pay grade. I prefer to travel without a tour, but since I got married, my wife likes the pre-planned Rick Steves format, and I like the focus on the foreign culture and not insulating yourself from the country by trying to find USA comforts. So, I do love a nice view and if given the option would pay for it, and my wife likes counter space in the hotel bathroom which is harder to come by on a Rick Steves tour. I do like to dress in what we used to call business casual clothing when I'm in Europe because the locals seem friendlier, like they are being respected. But I have gotten comments from other Americans on the tour, like they are being disrespected, like I think I'm better than them somehow maybe. Sorry, I don't, and I'm not.

Posted by
7584 posts

if there was a group tour and you wanted a special drink or dessert, would you permit yourself to order that, even if others at the table didn’t?

That's an extra, not a substitute for what everyone else gets. I think a better analogy would be refusing the food served at group dinners and instead ordering the most expensive plates on the menu.

Might add, that then you want the place to discount the cost of the meal by what they would have charged the tour for the meal you rejected!

As others said, call the office.

Posted by
131 posts

Here is my take on this situation.

The Rick Steves tour leaders have a very busy and demanding job. They are "on" for the entire duration of the trip, they have to deal with a few difficult and demanding people, they have to do a lot of extra work behind the scenes, etc, etc. I know they all say "we love our job" - and I'm sure they do, but it's still a job and it's still a lot of work.

One of their duties is to assign rooms at hotels. Except for the first hotel, guides give out room assignments to the participants. If they have to remember that you have a "special" room, they have to deal with that. And if you are thinking "but I already worked it out with the hotel", does the clerk on site at the hotel know it? Who did you work it out with, the hotel owner/proprietor? Is that person going to remember? Are they going to be present when you check in.

At a minimum, it's one more minor hassle for the tour leader to deal with. But it could very well be a much bigger hassle for them.

Personally I think the guides work hard enough and don't think they should have to deal with this type of situation.

That's my take on it.

Tony

Posted by
7501 posts

I have gotten comments from other Americans on the tour, like they are being disrespected, like I think I'm better than them

Charles, that’s really unfortunate to read. The person making the comment must’ve felt really inadequate, as if they’d brought clothing that was too casual. And if it wasn’t due to their insecurity, then they must only dress one way - dressy means a t-shirt that doesn’t have words or pictures on the front (or holes?), and if they really want to look fancy, the bill in the ball cap gets turned around to the front, instead of sticking out in back.

Posted by
7501 posts

And if another analogy for having an upgraded room might be appropriate, I’d say that since all the rooms are in the same hotel, but separate chambers, not all in one big hostel setting, it’s not a problem.

It’s not like you’re on the same bus with the rest of the folks on the tour, but paying more for the “special” seats that have a view the others don’t, or in air-conditioned, massaging, reclining thrones.

Or riding in front of the bus in your chauffeured Rolls Royce, while the rest follow in the “plain” bus that Rick deems adequate for them.

Posted by
3167 posts

I’m sorry you got “remarks” about your clothing choices from other tour goers!
I find that a little shocking.
As someone said, that is totally on that person who maybe feels inadequate for whatever reason and has to let other people know.
To be avoided!….or , on the other hand, maybe make an effort to draw that person out to find out their backstory…..

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about these days!
I’ll say it again….all this type of nonsense is why I prefer solo travel.

Posted by
4383 posts

Unless your clothing is dirty, smelly or too revealing, no one else has any legitimate reason to comment on it. They others on the tour should also realize that people from different parts of the US have different ideas of appropriate clothing. When our friends visit us in Charleston, many ask, "is your church one of those casual beachy churches?" so they can leave the coat and tie at home. The "church dress code" is quite different at our two churches in two different cities.

Posted by
843 posts

I agree with Tony. I guess I don’t understand all of this. Instead of trying to find a way to circumvent how the tour is run, why not just find a tour that meets your requirements?

Posted by
4 posts

Tony, thank you for your comment about the guides assigning rooms and the hassles my fiddling with a mid-tour hotel reservation may cause. I posted my original comment because my wife had reminded me on a previous RS tour we were given room #'s and keys before arriving at the destination. I will reach out to Rick Steves tours about what to do now, if anything.

Posted by
15326 posts

Take a look at Odysseys Unlimited. It may be what you are looking for.

Posted by
4 posts

@ S J
As if we didn’t have enough to worry about these days!
I’ll say it again….all this type of nonsense is why I prefer solo travel.

I agree about preferring solo travel but mostly because I can really explore. After a RS three cities tour of Italy I rented a motorcycle in Rome and rode North finding narrow abandoned roads through the countryside. My wife who still had the dopamine from the first years of our relationship affecting her judgment, agreed to ride out of the center of Rome, through traffic, following scooters down the centerlines. Once out of the city, while heading toward a hilltop castle ruin in the distance, we spotted a weathered wooden arrow with the words "Tombe Etrusche" pointing into the woods. We stopped and walked into the wooded area and found tombs carved out of stone. They were kind of like what you would imagine a biblical tomb would look like and I guess they pre-dated Christ. No one was around, no vehicles drove by. We could have been a thousand years in the past at that moment.

But, I like the people on RS tours. It's kind of like family once you get rolling, and I'm too old now to not enjoy everyone, even the characters. Especially the guides. I remember one guide pinched my butt while I was bending over picking up my hat at a restaurant. She thought it was funny I guess, because she did it after a group meal and she wasn't sly about it. I won't say where or when, but let's say it made me feel like I was accepted as part of her culture, much to my wife's chagrin. The guide was a character who always had an answer to any question. Just be aware that the answer she gave may not agree with the inscription on the cathedral relic or the plaque on the statue. I think a good guide is someone who is in love with life, and we have certainly had our share of fun characters over the years with RS.

Posted by
32 posts

I’d go ahead and upgrade—just keep it to yourself. I’ve been on several RS tours, and the only time that the budget-friendly accommodation got to me was when I had to sleep a night on an inside cabin on an overnight ferry into Oslo. It was a very claustrophobic experience, and I would have given anything to have had a room on the ferry with a window.

Posted by
4163 posts

This has been a very educational exchange for me. I never would've thought of "upgrading" a hotel room. I travel solo and on RS tours my experience has been similar to that reported by others. However, for me it has been mostly positive with only 2 uncomfortable room situations with 2 different results.

If there is no elevator, I usually request a ground or 1st floor room out of deference to my knees. At the 1st very quirky hotel on the Village Italy tour, my room was quite small with a single bed. On the 1st floor without many steps, it was charming with a very nice bath. However, the AC absolutely did not work at all. The staff came up 3 times, tried to fix it and failed. The place was full, so moving to another room wasn't possible. Fortunately there was a fan and I didn't sweat too much by sleeping with only the sheet over me. It was worth the discomfort when I opened the large window the next morning and discovered that the tour group was gathering just below me for breakfast. I felt so European looking down, waving at and talking to them.

On the Spain tour, I can't exactly remember where, one of the hotels had elevators, but I was assigned a very dark ground floor room that opened directly onto the courtyard where people ate meals. The room was dark in every way you could imagine, including dark walls, dark ceiling, dark floor, dark furniture and inadequate lighting. When I walked in I could see that it would be intolerable, so I asked the front desk if I could be moved to a different room. The tour guide wasn't anywhere around, but they had a room on a higher floor with more light that I could move to. It wasn't as fancy but it was a lot more pleasant. The tour guide had no problem with the change, but I wouldn't call it an "upgrade."

On a few RS tours I've arrived early and been given a room that transferred over from me paying for it to being a tour room. Sometimes that room was a bit nicer than the other tour rooms. I wish that had been possible more often. ;-) It's been easier to stay a day or two in the same room after the tour was over.

P.S. to the person who had difficulty with the interior room on the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo: I know exactly what you mean. At least I was in that tiny room by myself. I was concerned about getting enough air. I wasn't so troubled when I realized that the room was cool, not hot, and that there was a substantial gap between the floor and the bottom of the door, allowing plenty of air to flow in and out of the room. I have no idea what kinds of rooms others on that RS Scandinavia tour had.

Posted by
9 posts

I agree with what Tony mentioned before. You may not realize, but the tour guide who travels with the group assigns the rooms. Let's face it, in these smaller hotels, not all the rooms are identical. Some have views, some don't. Some are on the ground floor, some on the 4th floor with no elevator and narrow stairs. Our guide did an excellent job of rotating assignments so that everyone got an "upgraded" style room at some point, and everyone got to share the joys of carrying luggage up the stairs. :)

If you were to upgrade a specific hotel yourself, this may cause planning issues or possible confusion with the communication between your guide and the hotels. When we arrived, the guide told the hotel which travelers were in each room.

Look for the positive in every hotel and let your guide arrange everyone. If you have a view of a wall (which we did at times), maybe consider staying out and enjoying a drink in the plaza watching people. Return to your room just to sleep. Then you can enjoy the rooms that have a better view when you get them.

Posted by
14089 posts

"You may not realize, but the tour guide who travels with the group assigns the rooms."

I'm not sure this is always the case. On my last tour, Best of Italy, the guide said the hotels assigned the rooms and she had no say in them. I wondered why I kept getting really nice rooms on the 1st floor of the hotels and then at the last hotel in Rome saw the list of tour members the hotel had also had ages next to them so the hotels were assigning me lower floors in deference to my age. I was fine with that although I could have easily hauled my bag up a couple of flights of stairs.

Posted by
843 posts

Well, it may not ‘always’ be the case but we have been told that by the guides on most of our RS tours. In Hallstatt, the guide asked us if he put us in the largest room with a balcony overlooking the lake, would we be willing to host the group cocktail party on our balcony that night. Of course we were. In Greece, our guide had to split the group between two hotels and asked if we were willing to stay in the upper hotel that was quite a trek up the road and picked us and two other couples because she thought we could handle the walk. In Italy on the Cinque Terra, the group was split between two hotels, ours was right across from the beach with a beautiful view. We were told by the guide to enjoy it because our next hotel room would be different.

Posted by
89 posts

Agree with Brian about the ferry on the RS Scandinavian tour, and in fact I did book another room on that ferry so that I could have a window and not get seasick. I did not feel judged by the others on the tour, I don't think we were watching each other that closely! But it didn't occur to me to try to upgrade our room, I just bought a second room. So, thanks for the idea!

Posted by
729 posts

On our Best of England tour in 2019 we had a really bad experience with our room at The Sheep on Sheep Street in Stow-on-the-Wold (the powered shower wouldn't work, the toilet seat was lying on the floor....among several other things).

Our tour guide was made aware of the problems and he discussed it with the management. He then secured for us the best room possible at the next hotel in Convy (a much larger room with an interesting alcove).

I think there's obviously some room selections being managed by the tour guides.

On our last tour of 2023 the tour guide announced the assigned room numbers on the bus before arriving at the hotels. I would have been reluctant to throw a monkey wrench in their process.

Posted by
2399 posts

I echo Tony's comments - this is probably going to cause inconvenience for the guide and hotel staff. For one, the company negotiates rates for a block of rooms well ahead of the tour, the hotel has already done their negotiating and may be less willing to accommodate changes. Also, some hotels may be so small there are no upgrade options other than to boot one of your tourmates out of their room (I don't think you would do this). At bigger hotels there may be some flexibility. Or not - on my Best of Turkey tour all rooms were assigned by the business style hotels and even those who had problems in their rooms, like difficult plumbing, were not able to move elsewhere because of capacity issues. When guides do assign rooms, if they know the hotel well, they may try to even out room assignments to be more fair. If they don't know the hotel (and many do not) they are going to do the best they can assigning them by type of room based on the list of negotiated rooms from the hotel (double for couples, single for singles). I've been on tours where the guides asked if they could see our rooms so they could learn which ones were "better" than others.

Definitely call the RS tour office and find out if your specific tour would allow any kind of changes you've outlined. If it does, out of respect to the guide and the hotel staff, I would play it by ear, waiting to see if the room you are assigned meets your standards, and then discussing with the hotel staff to see if you can change rooms for a surcharge. And as you know from going on RS tours, sometimes you're simply dropping off bags and heading right back out the door of the hotel to a tour or dinner - you won't have time to do such maneuvering until late evening.

As a related anecdote, 20 years ago on one of my tours, I was a solo sharing with the only other solo person. They had just lost their spouse and were in quite a state of grief. A few stops into the tour, she spoke with the guide privately and asked if she could pay for her own separate room. She did so but paid full fare for the room, not an "upgrade." But it only worked out because our group was smaller than full capacity and the hotels had space to do so. I was given the original room assignment, so enjoyed some very spacious accommodations. As that was two decades ago, I wouldn't use it as an example.

Posted by
337 posts

You are really adding extra work for everyone including yourself, as they typically tell you your room number assignment on the bus right before you arrive at the hotel. Some just handout keys at the front desk, some ask for ID’s. We prearranged to stay an extra night at the last hotel on our tour in Amsterdam. They told us if we wanted to remain in the same room as the tour to book a specific kind of room. Of course they didn’t merge the two reservations and it took several trips to the front desk to get it all straightened out.

I realize you are trying to accomplish upgrades not extended stays. Just saying any kind of variation will involve the front desk and trying to be discreet around your group which can prove difficult. I also don’t see how the RS office would really truly be able to help as the reality is the hotel and your tour guides really deal with the day to day.

Also hard to imagine anyone on a RS tour trying to work out upgrades in front of others. It’s not a precious group that way, and yet there are plenty in the groups who otherwise travel high end on their own individual travels, but roll with the RS way on a RS tour. Perhaps a RS tour isn’t high end enough for your requirements.

Posted by
15326 posts

As someone who has worked in the tour industry, let me give some suggestions.

When you are assigned a room, go to it first and go see if it is okay for a couple of nights.

If there is a problem, go to the front desk and ask if getting an upgrade is possible. If it is, don't expect to get it for free. Tour companies negotiate very low rates and I can tell you the hotels are not giving anything away.

This won't be possible at some hotels due to size, room types and how busy they are, If a hotel has the availablility, they are not going to turn down extra money.

It's also not a great idea to talk about it to the other people on your tour. Since you don't have to worry about bellman service, and as long as you are on time, your "guide" might not even be aware of it.

But that's one of the quirks of RS tours. Some of the hotel rooms are spacious and others will have you thinking your closet at home is bigger.

Posted by
835 posts

From Frank - "But that's one of the quirks of RS tours. Some of the hotel rooms are spacious and others will have you thinking your closet at home is bigger."

That sounds terrible! In addition to schlepping your own luggage. And paying for the privilege.

I hope someone can correct my impression, but the comment above and other rules stated on the RS Tour website make me think Rick needs to enter the 21st century. His ideas of lodging seem to be the type I had as a student in the 1970s.

Posted by
2399 posts

ORDtraveler your impression is incorrect based on my experience (5 RS tours since 2004). Most RS hotels are perfectly fine and some are even superb. My last tour (Turkey) stayed mostly at business style hotels and only two smaller properties (both were great). The "price" for staying in a central location is often a smaller, older property with small or unusually configured rooms. For those not interested in gambling on hotel room selection, there are plenty of other tour options and self-catering. To each their own.

Posted by
337 posts

Of 3 RS tours we've been on, only one hotel was questionable. Most are very, very nice! And without question, handling your own luggage means after it's unloaded out of the bus, you are responsible to roll it to the hotel (whether it is parked right in front of the hotel or down the street if the bus can't park on the street in front of the hotel) and take it to your room. Not exactly unreasonable.

Posted by
2429 posts

I agree with CL & KD
After 10 tours, I can think 1 or 2 hotels that were just okay, most were quite nice. A few were approaching great.
I sometimes travel with another company that handles luggage for you. I really dislike putting my bag out early and waiting for it to be delivered to your room. I'd much rather handle it myself.

Posted by
877 posts

I agree that ORDTraveler's impressions are incorrect. I've been taking RS tours since 2007. I have never had a hotel or hotel room on the tour that was unacceptable or horrible. Some hotel rooms are small - but I have had very small rooms on my independent travels too. On some occasions, when hotels did not have an elevator (has been rare for my RS experiences), the hotel staff have been around to help with luggage. I have noticed since around 2017 or so, the RS hotels used on the tours have been "upgraded", many have been very fancy, with larger rooms, great breakfast choices, and elevators.

Posted by
8533 posts

I think that RSE is purposefully not interested in catering to travelers who need luxury hotels, gourmet meals, and luggage service, etc. They have pretty carefully identified the level of service they want to stay within, and decided not to compete with high-end companies. As one tour leader told me, they purposefully choose to not deal with air arrangements, not provide luggage handling, and stay in the smaller hotels/restaurants, to discourage the high maintenance travelers, and attract people who are capable of managing those details or are willing to learn. And I think their descriptions of the tours are pretty accurate.

Posted by
835 posts

Thanks to all above! It's good to hear my "impression" was wrong or exaggerated, or at least not the nightly norm. I can also imagine that traveling with a "high maintenance" group, whether because the travelers are overly demanding or needing undue assistance, could be quite taxing. Rick knows his market niche.

Posted by
15326 posts

Rick makes changes when the market demands it.

I remember the days when he didn't offer a single supplement. You had to share a room if you were traveling solo.

He used to also warn that some of the hotels on most of his tours had shared baths.

Wheels were considered taboo and he preached against them. Now his rolling carry on is his best selling bag.

From what I hear, his hotels are slowly upgrading as well.

Posted by
835 posts

I wonder, Frank, how much is Rick on the no-shared-baths and "upgraded" rooms and how much is the hotel industry changing to cater to new traveler expectations.

The world has changed - my first trip was a backpack along with every other college-age young person in the world, it seemed. Now, the "youngsters" are just as likely to have a roll-aboard as the "oldsters" with back-packs similarly equally divided between age groups. (My observations - other opinions may vary.)

Posted by
843 posts

We’ve been traveling with RS since 2014. The hotels and beds have definitely gotten better and I’m all about the bed! After 10 1/2 trips I can only think of one hotel that was not acceptable and that was on a GAS tour in Vienna. The hotel they normally used was unavailable and the guide apologized for not knowing the condition of the whole hotel which was being remodeled in stages. Part of the group got new rooms, a few of us got quite the opposite (I remember leaning on the window sill to greet a tour member down below only to have it crack and drop off.) Not quite the way to end an otherwise great trip but we survived.

Posted by
89 posts

FYI regarding negotiated room rates for tours-just returned from a RS tour, was told by guide, RS does not negotiate rates, he pays what the hotel charges are for all. He feels the hotel deserves what they could get if he were not booking them…

Posted by
15326 posts

I wonder, Frank, how much is Rick on the no-shared-baths and "upgraded" rooms and how much is the hotel industry changing to cater to new traveler expectations.

It's a bit of both.

Travel businesses have to cater to their customer's needs. I have to guess that hotels realized that their guests want ensuite bathrooms and the feedback RS gets from his customers was their desire for the same.

When I first heard of RS over thirty years ago, his hotels were not 3 or 4 star. You couldn't get a single supplement; you had to share. No bags over carry on were allowed and you were discouraged from taking wheels. That's all changed due to I'm guessing, customer demand.

BTW, wheeled luggage only became a thing in the late 1980's. Before that, anyone who wanted wheels had to use one of those folding luggage carts

As for negotiating rates, I would question what the "guide" says. The tour company guarantees a certain number of nights that year to the hotel, and the hotel is getting guaranteed income. No hotel is going to lose money.

Anyone with a group can negotiate a group rate. Or some groups might accept the hotel "group" rate offer. But paying rack rate for a group is poor business practice. And remember, higher costs are passed on to the consumer.

Posted by
4 posts

I have been on several RS Tours and there is much to like about them, but on the last tour I took a couple of the rooms were very disappointing, even by the standards of previous RS tours. I’m looking for other companies that have the RS “vibe” of active and adventurous travel and fellow travelers, but a notch up on accommodations. It’s also nice to stay in a hotel that offers more than just a breakfast room. A bar/lounge is a nice thing that many/most RS hotels don’t have.

Posted by
15326 posts

Jessie James.....what you are lookiing for is Odysseys Unlimited.

Same principles of small group travel, nicer hotels and all centrally located, professionally trained and licensed tour directors, bellman service so you don't have to lug your bags for blocks or up stairs, excellent customer service.

No "shopping stops," all gratuities included except to the tour director, most included meals also include beer or wine depending on where you are.

You'll see the prices are fairly similar.