Jun 27, 2013

On Being My Own Travel Agent

Today I'm recovering from the flu so I thought it would be a great time to catch up on some posts.

Our travel agent sent us her hotel itinerary last weekend.  Holy smokes, talk about expensive!  4 nights in Paris for $1,370?  2 nights in Munich for $621?  And the kicker: 3 nights in London for $1,542?


I did some research and, unfortunately, found that those rates weren't that unreasonable.  But, more importantly, I learned something about myself: I am too much of a control freak to leave hotel reservations to someone else.  *blush*  Maybe this is why we've never used a travel agent in the past.  Even though it's very time consuming, we're enjoying having control over the planning.

We are pretty particular about where we want to stay.  For example, in Paris we wanted to be near Luxembourg Gardens and in London we wanted to be near Hyde Park. We prefer charming smaller locally-owned inns over large hotel chains.  We don't need lots of services like room service, attached restaurants, or gyms.  But we do need air conditioning!  I was surprised to see that lots of hotels don't offer that in Europe.

Also, the hotel rooms are TINY.  Most search results have us staying in "quad" rooms, which usually means two twin beds and a sofa bed.  The kids will have to sleep together on the sofa bed, which might be disastrous.  Still, we didn't have any choice in some cities like Munich.

It's taken hours and hours of research but I have finally booked the following rooms:
  • 3 nights in Munich for $549 (a deal at $183 per night) at Novotel Muenchen City hotel.  One double bed and one sofa bed.  Yes, it's a chain hotel but it's walking distance from Marienplatz and it's the best price I could find by far.  Not many hotels were available to choose from.  Reserved through Hotels.com.
  • 3 nights in Mürren for $812 ($270 per night) at Hotel Alpenblick Mürren guesthouse.  Two twin beds and one bunk bed.  This room has a balcony with views of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau mountains.  Includes breakfast.  Reserved through Booking.com.
  • 4 nights in Paris for $1,217 ($304 per night) at Hotel Serotel Lutece.  Mars and I were laughing our asses off at the website's conversion from French to English: "To make your trip to Paris one of the most unforgiveable moments of your life."  It's a 2-bedroom apartment with one king bed and two twin beds and is a 10-minute walk to Luxembourg Gardens.  Reserved through Booking.com.
I'm still working on setting up accommodations in London.  It's overwhelming!  London is extremely expensive and offers lots of choices.  I hope to have something nailed down tonight, though, so we can move onto purchasing our train passes and making reservations.

Our itinerary has changed a bit since I last posted.  We are now staying 4 nights in Cologne instead of 3, we have completely cut out our stopover in Nurnberg, and we aren't planning to stay in Windsor at all.

Our new and final itinerary:
4 nights in Cologne with friends
3 nights in Munich
3 nights in the Swiss Alps
3 nights in Avignon with friends
4 nights in Paris
5 nights in London
1 night in Bournemouth with friends

Now that we have our hotels reserved and know where we'll be staying, I'm getting outrageously excited.  Less than one month until take-off!

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