Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I should have been a travel agent

I've reviewed hundreds of hotels on line in the past month.  I should have been a travel agent! Here are some things to consider if you're booking a room in Turkey.

It's often possible to book online through the hotel's website.  If you want to speak to someone at the hotel plan to call between 9 am and 5 pm.  Ask for " reservations" in English.  Speak slowly and ask short questions.  Not every Turk who speaks English will understand your dialect, accent or colloquialisms. I don't recommend booking.com having used it exactly once. I'd rather ask questions of a live person than be mislead by reviews and info on the internet.

Location:  It's nice to be in the heart of the action except when that means street noise around the clock and poorly fitting windows. A free shuttle can save you the price of cab fare.

Price: Our family of five needs two rooms.  Hotels don't usually have family suites. Two rooms = more $ Hotel rooms come in all price points and you get what you pay for.  We prefer hotels which cater to business travelers.  The staff speak good quality English and can help us figure out where to go and how to get there. The bellman at our last hotel helped me figure out the difference between the Istanbul aquariums I had heard about.  If you choose an American chain or an airport hotel expect the level of security to be extra ordinary. Not only are people and their bags x-rayed, but cars pulling up to the hotel are inspected as well.

Swimming pools: Many hotels have outdoor pools but they are unheated and closed between October and April.  Some have indoor pools. Some have hot tubs.  Some Turkish hotels also have hot springs water either in their spa facility or even piped into the rooms. Extra charges may apply. Bring a swim cap if you plan to swim. If your hotel requires a cap you won't have to buy their pricey uncomfortable plastic one.

Bathtubs are not standard equipment in Turkish hotel bathrooms. Some hotels have both, but most have a shower only.

Smoke free rooms: I forgot to request this at the last hotel.  Turks love to smoke!

Included breakfast: This is a time and money saver for us.  Breakfast is a meal I can happily skip but it's important to get food into the kids because who knows when, where and what lunch might be. Although now that they're acclimatized to Turkish food, this is less of a problem.

Free wifi: Sometimes there is a surcharge be sure to check.

Free Parking: Space is at a premium. Make sure you understand before booking if there is a cost for parking and where parking is located. Free parking is often any place you can find on the street near your hotel.

My number one hotel pet peeve is the noise housekeeping and other guests make in the hallways. Just because you're up and at'em at the crack of dawn doesn't mean I have to be awake too.  I've taken to hanging the do not disturb sign on our door as a friendly reminder and I also nag my children to be quiet in the halls.

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