Two weeks to make a few hotel reservations seemed ridiculous on one level. But we've never done this before, and I wanted the full experience in each place. I want to immerse myself in each, distinct location and feel like each place is the quintessential experience for that locale. Our lodgings include: a London hotel in a row of beautiful white buildings built in the 19th century, a classic Parisian apartment with tall ceilings and equally tall windows that open onto a wrought iron ringed balcony, an 18th century former country estate in Scotland that turned into a hotel when the aristocracy took a down turn post-World War I, a hotel in the Scottish Highlands (haggis served there), a farmhouse in the Lake District (our Christmas present from Colette) outfitted with wellies and a hamper of treats, a stone cottage in the Cotswolds with robin's egg blue kitchen cabinets and an Aga range (can't wait to try that out!), and (at the end) a London hotel built when Queen Victoria was on the throne.
If you're planning an extensive trip, here are some things I learned in my planning:
- Set a budget and try your best to stick to it with each booking. If it's a bit over, but includes breakfast, it's probably still on budget.
- Maps are your friend. And Google Maps street view is your BEST friend. It enables you to check out the surrounding area.
- Rick Steves is a good starting place, but don't overlook Trip Advisor reviews too.
- Check out the traveler photos of hotels on Trip Advisor.
- Hotels are great, but get creative and check out Airbnb and other such sights for more distinct offerings.
- And when all else fails, try Expedia, which, despite what the hotel sites tell you, sometimes beats the hotel's best price.