ACCOMMODATION IN ITALY

Over the last few years, the ability of users to post reviews of accommodations on the Web has helped improving standards and the quality of services. There are many sites where one can look at hotels and their availability. Due to the partnering of various portals, you will notice that one may link to another. We like and have used the ones below. Each seem to cater to a different audience as people have their own preference/loyalty as to what site they contribute. Smartly used, these sites provide a very powerful tool for planning.

Trip Advisor is a major Internet portal for travel information. Funded in the year 2000, it originally focused on users’ reviews of various accommodations. Over the years it evolved into a major travel website expanding from accommodations to various other travel interests and attractions while still maintaining its users’ driven characteristic. Trip Advisor was purchased by Expedia Inc. in 2004-2005.

Trip Advisor is just a tool and must be used with caution and complemented, as needed, by others such as Venere.com and Bed and Breakfast in Italy. As you search for accommodations and read reviews, be aware of some “warning lights”. An extremely good review by a user that just registered to post that review, and has no other contribution, is indeed suspicious. It is also possible, as in everything on the Internet, that some posting may be specifically fed by commercial interests. We have used Trip Advisor for all our trips (Italy and around the world) and, as a tool, it has not failed us. We have also contributed with a few reviews ourselves.

When a facility shows different conflicting users’ reviews, you will have to assess whether the negative ones reflect the reviewers’ unfulfilled or too high expectations, a break down in communication with management, or indeed a serious problem with the facility. Similarly, be suspicious when you see a single glowing review by a new TA user. These considerations should not keep you from using TA. As you develop a short list of facilities of interest, we suggest you visit their website. If it is not shown on the TA page, search for the websites
outside Trip Advisor (Search their names in Google), and check them out (there may be better pictures and/or more information). This will not preclude you from using Trip Advisor provided links (Venere.com, Expedia, etc.) to finalize bookings if you so desire.

Venere.com is another good Internet site. While both Venere.com and Trip Advisor are owned by Expedia Inc. (which also owns other travel sites), Venere.com may have different users’ reviews and information. However, since both portals are owned by the same large corporation (that includes Expedia.com), many sites are cross linked, and that does not necessarily help. As stated for Trip Advisor, when an accommodation has different conflicting users’ reviews, you will have to assess whether the negative ones reflect the reviewers’ unfulfilled or too high expectations, a break down in communication with management, or indeed a serious problem with the facility.

Differently from Trip Advisor, Venere.com allows direct booking of hotels or other accommodation. However, we frequently found that directly contacting the facility (via their own website), may get you a better deal, or availability on dates that were not available on Venere.com. Worth checking that out.

The
Website Bed and Breakfast is worth exploring if you are planning to stay in a Bed and Breakfast. Just as in Trip Advisor and Venere.com, users are allowed to post their review on line and there is a good check on the reliability of the reviews.

Bed-and-breakfast-in-italy.com. This site does not provide user’s review. However, it is a great resource. It lists B&B that are not necessarily found on other sites. For each B&B listed, you will find contact info, prices, direct link to its website, etc. As you narrow your search, you can look at reviews on other sites.

A comment about booking online. Booking online does NOT necessarily mean a cheaper rate. Directly contacting the accommodation via their own website or by phone, may get you a better rate. MORE IMPORTANTLY: Some "booking websites" do NOT allow cancellations or changes even as the hotel management may be more than willing to refund. Be forewarned.