What makes a perfect London hotel? The right price is a good first step, but it’s not so good if the hotel is in the wrong location. A modern hotel is great, unless the customer is looking for that quaint English charm. In fact, it would really help to know the ratings and services of all the hotels in the right location and price range, but none of that helps if they’re already booked or closed for renovations. These two hotels sound almost perfect, but what do they really look like? That seaside inn is quite charming, but maybe not in the wintry gales of December. What new hotel is trying to attract attention with great specials on luxury suites?
London’s a big city with world-renowned museums, theaters, parks, sporting events, and attractions. Maybe it would be fun to spend a couple of nights in a luxurious four-star hotel near the West End and then set up base camp in a cheaper inn near Paddington station for day excursions. That means the customer has to find two perfect hotels with two completely different criteria. Okay, the perfect hotel is a mirage, and every question answered begets two more unanswered questions. How can the customer judge competing claims when she’s halfway around the world and doesn’t know London? Surely, there must be experts one can turn to for advice.
An airline or travel agent will be happy to steer the customer toward one of the four hotels they’re supposed to push, but they aren’t really experts. Their package tours are convenient but offer a very limited selection in hotels. Whether this is your tenth or first trip to London, you want your hotel to be memorable. Don’t let a faceless airline make this choice for you – it’s possible to do it yourself.
What about that picturesque lodge near Battersea Park that Uncle Harry said not to miss? The travel agent has never heard of it, and Uncle Harry isn’t sure of the name. The guidebooks are confusing and make every place sound basically the same, except for the prices, and some of the information is way out of date. Ads and brochures don’t help much, because they make every lodging in London sound terrific. To believe the ads, the only difference between a four-star and a two-star hotel is the mint on the pillow. No, what you need is an unbiased counselor with encyclopedic knowledge of London and its environs, someone who knows where the bargains, specials, and vacancies are.
That information is on the Internet but not in corporate websites that are designed to sell one chain hotel over another. The customer can check out individual sites for every hotel, but that’s no different than reading a stack of brochures or a page of ads. They’re just sales tools, not honest advice from an organization designed to help the consumer. To find the perfect London hotel, the customer needs real facts and easy methods to compare lodgings by the most important criteria – price, location, size, style, rating, and availability.
The major travel websites would be tempting for a search like this, but they don’t offer more than a dozen affiliated hotels. Again, that’s not a real selection when London offers hundreds of diverse establishments of all types. It’s better to find a service that focuses exclusively on hotels, without trying to rent cars and sell airline tickers at the same time. Every hotel in London should be available for scrutiny and comparison shopping, from the quaint inn over the pub to the newest luxury resort. There should be photos of the rooms and the major facilities in each hotel, so the customer knows he’s getting the experience he wants. With the incredible array of history and architecture on display in London, there’s no reason why the customer can’t find the perfect lodging to suit his dream vacation.
Prices and room availability have to be current and reflect seasonal conditions, and by the time the customer makes a reservation, he should feel totally confident in his choice. A full-service website should offer maps, attraction guidelines, and transportation tips, making sure that the visitor has the right location for the excursions he wants. If theater is a major interest, some hotels offer theater packages that include tickets and transportation. Other hotels offer packages that include tickets to sporting events, and a rare few offer pure luxury at discount prices. A good hotel is more than a place to park one’s head on a pillow after a hard day of sightseeing – it’s the base of operations, a place for meals and reflection, and sets the tone for the whole day.
Unless the customer knows a particular chain where he prefers to stay in any city, perhaps to use or accrue bonus points, he should avoid the corporate websites. Even then, it’s often a good idea to go to compare the hotels in a given chain on an unbiased site, where they rank all criteria objectively. In a large city like London, every major chain will have several hotels, and they may vary a great deal in amenities and style. One may be a brand-new tower of chrome and mirrors and another a quaint old inn with a new corporate name. One may be conveniently located for business meetings but not so great for general sightseeing, and another may be gorgeous but distant from public transportation. Yet all carry the same name, and the corporate website makes them all sound delightful.
There really isn’t any reason to let an airline or Uncle Harry pick a hotel for you in London, when all the information is available on the internet, often in one place. These guidelines try to stay current, too, so a list of helpful sites appears below. A consumer-oriented site that includes every lodge of every description is recommended, because the only way to find the perfect London hotel is to have the perfect selection.
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