Episode #008: Accommodation in Italy – hotels, AirBnB, agriturismo and more

accommodation in italy

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Booking accommodation for your trip to Italy can be stressful. If you’re not sure of the best locations and style of lodging to expect, how do you know if you’ve made a good choice?

Show notes

We both love finding the perfect stays for our trips to Italy and are here to share our favorite tips. Hotel expert Josie gives you all the inside information you need to know about booking hotels in Italy. Wondering about room and bed sizes? She’s got the answers to these and many more questions.

You’ll discover what to expect at Italian hotels and when we choose to stay in alternative accommodations like apartments, AirBnBs and even farm stays. From Trulli houses in Puglia to luxury agriturismos in Tuscany, we’ve tried them all and are sharing our best advice on securing great stays for your trip.

Check out our accommodation guides below for our handpicked hotels and apartments in popular destinations across Italy.

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What you’ll learn in this episode

  1. The different types of accommodation available in Italy
  2. What to expect at hotels – beds, room sizes, facilities, taxes, policies etc
  3. Unique accommodation options – farm stays, monasteries and more
  4. How to choose the right accommodation for your trip
  5. Our favorite sites for booking accommodation and why
  6. When to book via an online portal like Booking.com and when to book direct
  7. The best time to book your hotels and apartments / how far in advance should you book?

Favorite booking sites mentioned in the show

  • Booking.com – compare different accommodation options, generous cancelation clauses, loyalty discounts and perks
  • AirBnB – great for apartments and vacation rentals. Check our gorgeous apartment in Florence (just steps from the Ponte Vecchio). Get credit for your first stay here.
  • Bookings for You – Italy villa specialists with attention to detail – 5% off when you mention our podcast and site
  • Olivers Travels – dream villas in Tuscany, Sicily, Puglia and everywhere in between
  • Vrbo – vacation rentals with great stock on the Amalfi Coast

Our accommodation guides

Resources

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Transcript

Prefer to read along as you listen? Below is a full transcript of our episode conversation. Unfortunately it does not pick up our lovely Australian accents however!

Click here for full episode transcript

Intro (00:05):
Ciao and benvenuti to Untold Italy. I’m Josie and I’m Katy and we’re here to help you plan your trip to Italy. Between us. We have many years of travel experience and we want to help you uncover your own as yet untold stories and adventures in Italy. Each episode you’ll hear practical advice, tips and ideas to help you plan your own trips to the magical land of history, stunning landscapes and a whole lot of pasta. We’ll have interviews from experts and focus on local destinations and frequently asked questions about traveling Italy. Thanks for listening and make sure to subscribe to our show now let’s get started on your regular dose of Bella Italia.

Josie (00:50):
Ciao everyone. Welcome to Untold Italy. In this episode we’re going to help you understand accommodation options in Italy from five star hotels to the charming B and B’s and more.

Katy (01:00):
It’s such a great topic, Josie, because after your flights, accommodation is usually the biggest expense of your trip and you want to get it right.

Josie (01:07):
Yes, Katy, honestly, accommodation for me is the biggest, most important part of the trip. And I do a lot of investigation. Obviously with my background being a hotelier and working for two of the biggest hotel chains in Australia. It’s one of my things that I just do. So a couple of things that I do: I do a lot of investigation. That’s number one. I get online, I look at hotels, but the first thing that I do is how am I going to get to these different places? What type of accommodation do I want? So one of the big things that I do is I want to be close to a train station. If, especially in Italy, like if we’re going from Rome to Florence or we’re going internal Italy on a train, specially if we went and we went to Cinque Terre and when we got to Monterosso, I wanted to make sure that with four, four of us plus four suitcases plus carry on plus everything that I didn’t want to be lugging it cause I knew that that terrain was really difficult. So I actually saw the hotel close to the railway station. But then in doing that, what hotels, because there’s so many variety, you’ve got five star, you’ve got BnBs, you’ve got Airbnb and across so many different platforms. So it does get overwhelming. I’ve actually was reading a few people on your Italy Facebook page and that is one of the most common questions around hotels. Is that correct? Do you find that?

Katy (02:30):
Absolutely. Hotels and booking accommodation is something that comes up probably I would say 30 to 50% of the time in the group. And it’s one of those things that we we really want to help people with. So I think today when we are having a chat about is I guess we want to talk about what drives your decision to choose a particular type of accommodation and what accommodation is available in Italy. Because I think there’s some different types of accommodation out there that people may not be familiar with. And even the hotels have a slightly different way of describing their facilities and what’s available. So we can’t really expect the same level of, or the same type of accommodation as you may do at home. So for us when we’re traveling, we like to look at the available accommodation options and, the terrain about where we’re going to stay. I think it’s really important to choose a location is, is probably the top thing that you’re going to have to consider when you’re booking the accommodation. And then it’s the type of accommodation. So for us, I like to stay in the center of towns just, I don’t know about you, but I think that even like one suburb out can make things a little bit more complicated in terms of transport. So you might pay a little bit more to stay in the centro Storico or the central areas of the cities. But I do think that it’s worth that investment for a little bit more because then you can walk everywhere.

Josie (03:59):
yes, I agree. I think also it’s more expensive though. Okay. So yes, when you’re looking at hotel centrally, it is really you, you’re going to be looking at a bit more pricey because of the convenience. If it is that you need to look at cost reduction in your itinerary, then you know, two or three suburbs out as per your normal city is where you’re going to do some savings. And then the type of star ratings and the type of hotels. I mean, being in Australia and having brand new cities and brand new hotels being built is certainly not what we’re going to be experiencing in Europe. The type of accommodation that sometimes we have shown up at. And I’ll tell a story where we ended up driving into Calabria in a place called Pizzo and we drove there and obviously my family are used to quite good hotels and I’d picked really great hotels around Italy and we’ve driven into this apartment style hotel in Southern part of Italy. And honestly, we’ve walked, we’ve driven up and my husband said to me as we’ve driven up, hasn’t even seen the rooms or he goes, “Oh, no, we’re not staying here”. And I think you have to be, in saying that I, I literally said, “there’s not many options”. So, so you have to understand cost-wise options. You know, I wanted somewhere in that instance I wanted somewhere close. I wanted somewhere where I could stop, have my car, we needed a two bedroom apartment that could actually sleep, you know, literally four adults cause the girls at that stage were 17 and 18, so we all needed our space. So again, you need to look at those sort of different things. Everyone looks for different things in accommodation.

Katy (05:41):
Yes. So trying to narrow down exactly what your requirements are is really important. Actually, I’ve got a blog post that I wrote on top morsels that actually steps you through that. So I’ll pop that in the show notes. But it’s, it’s really important to know exactly what you’re looking for. So definitely if have a car, you’re going to need a car space. And let me tell you, that’s actually not as easy as it sounds. You know, so especially in the central district. So sometimes you’ve got to work out, you know, make some trade offs about where you stay if you’ve got a car or if you want to stay near the station. Now staying near the station is a really important topic, I think because as you mentioned earlier, staying in the station near Monterosso is a really good idea. However, I don’t think staying at the station in most of the big cities is necessarily my choice of accommodation.

Josie (06:28):
No, I think it, again, it’s that investigation, right? So obviously in Rome you wouldn’t want to be staying near the station because I think it’s just too much hustle and bustle. But how far do you want to walk or how close is it for you? Or in, you know, in Rome you’ve got to commit to maybe getting a driver or a taxi or some sort of transfer, especially with the family, like we had the option was we get in a big taxi. Yep. So again, I think, I think you’re just in those little towns also, when we went to Como – the funniest story. Again, you get to these places and you don’t realize how many stairs Italy has. I mean, we get to Como, to the the station there and we get out and the stairs everywhere. And, and you ask everywhere where to go to find this hotel, which was right on Lake Como. Oh yes. It seemed like a quite a short walk because again, if it’s too short a walk, the taxis won’t take you. But with two sets of luggage and backpack and I don’t travel light it was a walk and everyone kept saying, yes, yes, it’s a really, really easy walk to this hotel. Let me tell you, it was not an easy walk with all the cobblestones and the stairs and the getting there, we eventually got there. So I think you know, I’m, I’m a little bit very pedantic. I print off how far it is. I look on Google maps. I do the walking route on your, you know, how you can either pick a car, bus I do the walking route. And so I think it’s just as long as you’re comfortable where you’re going, but then when you look at the accommodation, it’s different things for different people.

Katy (08:07):
That’s true. So you really got to understand what you’re looking for. So I just think staying near the station in some of these big cities, it’s very busy. But also they’re maybe not the most charming areas I have to say. So you may be better off staying. It’s very convenient to stay near the station, especially if you’re doing day trips or you want to get there to and from for transit. But I usually choose some other areas. So maybe some favorite areas in Rome. I know you’d like to stay near the Spanish steps, but I like to stay in the Pantheon because I like to have access to to Campo Di Fiore and and the areas around that. And I also like to be able to, you know, quickly zip over to Trastevere, so I like Pantheon. And, but I guess in the next visit that we have, as we’ve stayed centrally many times, then I’ll be trying a different neighborhood and I really want to try Testaccio because I did a fantastic food tour there recently and it was so much fun. I really loved that neighborhood. But everyone’s different. How about in Florence, Josie? Where do you like to stay there?

Josie (09:14):
Normally we say really central near just the walk to the Duomo so not very far. And again there is a cost to that. I used to work for Accor hotels, so obviously we were able to get quite good prices at those hotels. So a lot of our time was driven by where are the hotels and they’re quite central. So that was one thing that I, I looked at so central with, with Florence for me was then we could walk everywhere. What about you?

Katy (09:41):
yes, I think it’s easy to go central in Florence cause it’s so small. But last time I stayed there, I stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb apartment just around the corner from the Ponte Vecchio and it was an amazing location and it was a great apartment too actually. But I think that you can also go a little further out in Florence and still have a great experience near Santa Croce district and Santo Spirito. There’s some really lovely places around there. Mainly some old Palazzi, you know, palaces that had been converted into boutique hotels. And in Venice I like, I mean Venice is so small. Again, I think you can’t really go wrong. If you have a lot of luggage though, you need to be aware. I would stay near the station in that case because you, you don’t really have a lot of options in terms of transport apart from the vaporetto. And even then, you’re still gonna have to walk with your luggage for a while unless you get a private water taxi and your hotel has a dock. So it’s one of those things that you need to think about carefully when you go to Venice. I think because you do hear stories of people, you know, dragging their suitcases all over the 400 bridges that Venice has. And it’s easy to get lost too. So even if it looks like it’s a 20 minute walk, it might take longer cause you’re sort of walking around in circles a little bit.

Josie (11:03):
yes. We stayed over in the Island. So we found that, you know, at an M gallery there at that stage. And you’re right, we had no concept of the time that we got in. We had no concept of the transfers. So see everyone, we, even when we travel and we travel quite a lot, we still experienced different things and I was quite prepared, but it wasn’t really prepared and we broke out suitcase wheel. So, so these are the things that go on because you’re right, Venice, I think you need to be central, I think near the station there. And there’s so many options in Venice. Again, you don’t know, there’s no right or wrong hotel or accommodation, you know, you will be talking to different people and I think Katy and I do that quite a lot. You know, you’ll go, Oh there’s this great Airbnb. Someone will say it really is up to you. Do the investigation, look at what you like read the reviews. I think reviews are really something really important and and taken with a little bit of a grain of salt too because when I was in hotels, what one person likes or one experience is not necessarily how all the experiences are.

Katy (12:07):
I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s one of those things that we in our group we often have people asking, can you recommend a hotel in Rome, Venice, Florence? And it’s really hard because how can you do that? What I like, maybe not be what you like and we might have completely different budgets and completely different requirements. Anyway. So I think what we do now is have a chat through some of the different types of accommodation that’s available in Italy and just explain some of the things to look for. So to start off with, let’s talk about hotels because hotels in Italy are very different to the hotels that you’ll find in the United States and in Europe and in Asia. So we did a lot of traveling in Asia, and let me tell you, their hotels are absolutely phenomenal, beautiful. And in Australia we have different standards and in the U S there’s different standards as well, but they try and even these out with star ratings, but it doesn’t really translate into a European setting. And so what I wanted to do was really explain what the hotels are like in Italy and how you can really, assess what, what’s gonna work for you. So to start off with, many of them are in very old buildings and converted palaces or palazzos. And it’s really, you cannot expect certain things that you may expect in a, in a hotel, in your country. So for example, unless it’s a higher class hotel, it may not have an elevator. So you need to specifically look if you need that. You do not want to be dragging your suitcases up five flights of stairs if you have mobility issues, for example. The other one is air conditioning.

Josie (13:51):
yes, 100%. It gets very, very hot in June, July, August a hundred percent. It’s very hot. And if you really don’t cope without air conditioning, you need to check that.

Katy (14:02):
Yup. And it’s traditional hotels, you cannot expect that. So I think, you know, when we’re traveling around in Australia or in the United States you would just have that as a given. But in Europe it’s not a given. You can’t expect to have air conditioning and also the room sizes, they’re really small, much smaller than what you would get elsewhere in the world.

Josie (14:23):
And I think the other thing in there, because the rooms are small again because these are historic, some of them are historical buildings. This they’ve just buildings that they converted into a hotel. The other thing that you’ve gotta be really conscious of is the bed size. We are very lucky to have king size beds. That is something you’ll need to check the configuration because they’re usually queen or double. yes. To be honest, more doubles. And that can prove problematic if you are used to king size and you have some mobility issues as well.

Katy (14:57):
yes. And I think even like when we moved to the UK, we found out that a queen in Australia does not equal a queen in the UK. So all these translation issues that it translates over there. So a double is really a small double bed. It really is small. It’s like a one and a half of what you would expect. And so if you’re wanting to have a little bit of extra space in terms of your bed and the room, you’re really going to have to look at four star hotels and above. I think because three star hotels are really what you would probably be considered basic. But they can be so charming though. And that’s the thing, you know, I wouldn’t discount those hotels, but you need to understand what you’re getting into, and really read the reviews and the description of the hotels very carefully.

Josie (15:49):
I think if you are really looking for the same, same you know, you’d look at your name chains, right? The name chains have certain bedding configuration, but also they’re more luxurious. And they’re bigger and they’ve got everything right. So I think, but then with that comes the big price tag. Cause, if you were looking at a five or four star hotel centrally in Florence or Rome, you may get, I don’t know whether you’re going to always get a King size bed. Again, make sure when you book that you’re checking the, the booking and confirming the room type and also your bedding configuration. Because that’s really important. So if you’re looking for that, look at your five star or star, your named you know, brands that you know, around the U S, the global brands that would have that. Cause usually they have a brand standard. Hotels usually have brand standards, they buy the same sort of size beds whereas if you’re going to a local European branded hotel, they’ve got different size configurations.

Katy (16:57):
Yes, that’s true. And I think, well for me, I love boutique hotels. So I like the smaller, more intimate hotels and again, you can find some amazing places that have that maybe a little bit more luxurious feel. But you also get an element of charm because I’ve stayed in some beautiful places with frescoes on the ceilings and shutters and just very well done. But they may not have the exact facilities that you would expect at a five star hotel in other parts of the world.

Josie (17:30):
And I think something else that you really need to be very mindful of is the they do a lot of shower over bath. So if you have mobility issues or you’re going to be worried, I, I sometimes get worried that I’m going to slip in the bath because I’m so not used to it. It’s not because of mobility for me. It’s just something we’re not used to in Australia. We’re used to walking into our showers. So again, be very careful. I was telling Katy, one of the things that we found when I worked in a hotel that we’d get many emails from international travelers just asking for different things like that, you know, how is the bed configuration? Can you confirm this? I’ve booked this. So feel free that when you are booking that you can send an email to the hotel usually to the reservations team or whatever you can find online and they will come back to you with that information.

Katy (18:21):
yes. Okay. That’s great tip. So with hotels, I think we use hotels when we’re staying somewhere maybe one to two nights because I like to have someone available to help answer questions and to be there available and make, you know, has a 24/7 front desk that you can, if you’re arriving late or leaving early, you’ve got that capability. Now. However, now we travel with our kids that hotels may not be the best option. Our kids are at this age, they’re in primary school or elementary school if you’re in the United States and they are small and I don’t want them to be in a separate room for safety reasons. So but we also would like some space. Now when we are looking at accommodation in Italy sometimes we choose apartments or Airbnbs because it makes more sense for us. We like to have a separate lounge area and separate beds for us all because we like to have a good night’s sleep and you’re really going to get probably a lot more value for your money if you choose an apartment or Airbnb in this case. Because when you are choosing the hotel rooms, you may not get that unless you’re choosing a suite, which there aren’t that many available actually. And when you do find them, they are quite expensive. You won’t get that space and potentially the bed situation. You can get quadruple rooms in a hotel. However, they usually have like a sofa bed and I don’t like, well, especially for on a long trip. I don’t really like the kids to stay on a sofa bed all the time.

Josie (19:58):
So yes, I agree. I think for me, because I really love hotels, I do a bit of a mixture of both. I’ve got the girls who are now 22 and 23 so we can have separate rooms. So it really depends. I think you’re right, one or two nights. Sometimes I do a hotel. If I’m in a country or in a city that I want to have that more bespoke feel and want to go to concierge or feel that I need that extra help. I mean, when I first started traveling to Italy, I like that because you can ask, can you get a transfer? Because I’ve been in hotel so long, I like that help around. But then also when you’re on long trips, which we were on for about six weeks around Italy I wanted to have the washing area as well. So washing for me was really important. The four of us just needed to get our t-shirts washed every day. And, and it gets to a point after three or four weeks that you don’t want to have a whole suitcase worth of dirty clothes. So for me, also looking for apartments or Airbnbs that had washing facilities central. So again, it really depends. I usually mix it up for both. If I’m in an area that I, I want to have a hotel because I want to have that luxury sort of area, or it’s our wedding anniversary and I wanted to be in a beautiful hotel in Verona. We did that. But then when we went to Rome, we looked at an Airbnb or an apartment style. Because, traveling with the four kids, the, sorry, two kids and my husband, third kid, we wanted to have some washing facilities. So again, look at the time that you’re around, because also if you’re, if you’re doing washing, you need to be in that city for three or four days to get it dried as well.

Katy (21:44):
That’s so true because it’s quite humid over there and, you won’t find a dryer in these places. So, it’s air drying only. So yes, you’re right. And we need a washing facilities as well. So that’s another important reason to choose Airbnbs. So renting out apartments is, has been going on in Italy way before Airbnb came along. And I can tell you a funny story of when I first went to Florence and I arrived on the train and this was in the 90s and it’s so funny then because we didn’t have the internet so how did you find accommodation? And I was backpacking and basically what happened was you’d arrive at the station and then there’d be all these people lined up with like a folder showing a picture of their room and you choose the accommodation. I mean it was, you would never do that these days it would be considered so dangerous. But you know, you just talked to a few guys who would say, “Oh, come to my apartment and it’ll cost you this much” And off you went and you stayed in their apartment. But now obviously these days you can choose online. There’s many different options to choose from. Actually forour next trip that I’m planning right now, I’ve pretty much exclusively booked accommodation, a mixture of hotels and apartments on Booking.com.

Josie (22:59):
Oh yes, I’ve done that too.

Katy (23:00):
yes, I think Airbnb is good. However they don’t have maybe as flexible cancellation policies and they may not also have as big a range. So I like to be able to compare. On booking.com you’ve got hotels, apartments, BnBs and lots of different options to choose from. So that’s one thing to think of if you’re not familiar with that platform. The other one that I find has got some great listings for apartments in Italy and especially on the Amalfi coast for some reason is VRBO.

Josie (23:38):
Yes, I’ve seen them. They’ve got some great listings.

Katy (23:40):
In fact, it’s much better than Airbnb on the Amalfi coast for some reason. So it’s just one thing to consider as well. So I think, yes, the apartments and Airbnb is a long established form of accommodation across Italy. And you will find the different options where you can exclusively book the apartment, which is what we do. Or you can rent out a room if you’re on a budget and it’s a very common way of doing things. One thing that they do ask for though, which is something we should mention is this. One is the city tax that you will be paying. So you will usually pay your accommodation if you’re paying it upfront. Say you’re paying a hundred euros for an example. And then there’ll be a city tax on top of that. And each city charges a separate tax depending on the class of accommodation, and the number of people staying. So it’s a per person charge.

Josie (24:36):
And also, Katy, I think a couple of really important tips. They will ask for your passport. Everyone’s passport. So don’t be alarmed that you think they’re going to steal your identity. It’s part of the government law that they need to ask for everyone’s passport that is staying. Also in a hotel, I’ve always experienced this. And I know that we get a lot of questions from travelers about this is that we’re asked to put down a credit card to hold a bond. And it’s usually depending on the hotel, it’s a per night. And what that is, is that unfortunately or fortunately it’s just a security for the hotel that if you use their minibar or you go to the restaurant and you happen to not pay for your bill, they’ve taken a bond. So it is, what they do is they hold that amount of money. So it could be $100 or a hundred euros. It really depends. 50 euros. It could be per night for your stay and they could just hold it on your credit card. So also be, be wary of those holds on your credit cards. So I always travel with two credit cards, one that does the hold, because that can take a couple of weeks for that to be taken off. I know it sounds really strange, but the bank sometimes doesn’t release it and I just want to be really clear here. It is not the hotel that holds it. So once you check out, they will take the holding off and charge your card with what you have done. But they release it, it’s up to the bank and sometimes your bank being overseas can take a few can take a week or up to two weeks to release that. So if you are wanting that funds on your credit card, it holds as part of your funds. So that’s just a little tip that I know that I’ve had many emails when I was in, in the hotel. Why arent my funds being released? We release them, but it can be the bank. So be wary of that as well. Just that is just something, it’s a standard that they do ask you.

Katy (26:32):
That’s a great tip. You know, you sometimes forget about those things and then suddenly you’re looking at your banking and you’re going, Oh, I thought I had a bit more available on my card than that. So that’s a great tip. Josie, the other thing that I think should be the next thing to talk about are some accommodation types that you may not expect or that you may not have experienced in other parts of the world. And we’ve kind of stumbled across this by accident one time and now we’ve never looked back. There’s a concept in Italy called agriturismo, which are basically a farm stay. This sounds fairly rustic. And it can be because what it is, is that the government has allowed farmers to make additional income by renting out their rooms. But the farmers really don’t offer just that. They actually offer an amazing service. So you could get a room, but also a meal that’s cooked from the produce from the farm. It’s so good. And they also have usually have some great facilities. So we stayed in an agriturismo in Sicily, which was just divine. It was set in these lemon groves. It had a beautiful swimming pool. It was an old converted .anor house I guess. And it also had a wine cellar and a restaurant. So it was kind of like a mini resort, I would have to say. And it was not rustic at all. It was quite luxurious actually. So it’s one of those accommodation options that I think Europeans are very familiar with. But if you’re coming from outside of Europe, you may not know about them. But I really seek this type of accommodation out now because it’s really quite special. It’s cozy, it’s friendly. And if you’re looking for some of those little extras, like a swimming pool, which is a great idea, especially in summer. You may not get them in a hotel to be honest, because the hotels in the center, they’re limited for space. So I really recommend staying in an agriturismo. In Puglia they’re called something slightly different. They’re called Masseria and they are a beautiful old maybe country manors or estates that have been converted into accommodation and you usually get a pool. Did you stay in one?

Josie (28:50):
No, because we wanted to stay right in the heart of Lecce and Alberobello. I have been on Instagram and seen some amazing stays. And when I go back to Puglia, definitely we’ll stay in one. Another really great option for you. Many years ago I worked for a company that would do stays in monasteries. So they had they had a connection with the Catholic church. And some of the old nunneries had been transformed into accommodation. So you were able to say monasteries and, and those sort of accommodations, which were again, really amazing.

Speaker 1 (29:27):
So when we talk about accommodation, there’s so much variety. But it depends on what you feel like and how confident you are. So maybe not on your first trip. In that case you might want to do hotels, but definitely incorporate some of these places when you go.

Katy (29:41):
Did you stay in a trulli house in Puglia?

Josie (29:44):
Yes. Well that was interesting finding a trulli house in Puglia. So for those of you who don’t know in a little place called Alberobello. They’re little huts made of clay and thatched roofs. They’re really amazing. It’s an amazing experience. But it was very primitive, or rustic. Don’t expect to have the luxury. It was definitely not a five star hotel, but you know what, it was an experience. And also something I do want to bring up because when I first started doing Airbnbs, especially Airbnbs, where you start, you communicating with the actual owners and the people and when do you get there? Where do you get the key? I can be, believe it or not, a panic traveler because I like to have everything knowing where it is. So how do you communicate and how are they going to know when you’re going to get there and what do you know? So it was really interesting when you first start, but you’ll get used to it. So the day we arrive, arrived in Alberobello, I text them. And that’s why you need your wifi. So 100%, so you let them know where you are. You can send them locations if you get lost on your location, on your phone. So I’m pretty good now if I get lost. But again, we’re experienced travelers, but we still have some bloopers along the way. So it was amazing. It was an amazing place and in Lecce and we’ll talk about that when we get to Puglia, which I love, we stayed in the old city again, you can’t park in that area. So there’s different honestly, there’s different types of accommodation and it’s amazing.

Katy (31:32):
Well I think you can now find these luxury trulli places in and I’ve had my eye on a few of those, but I think that an amazing experience is to stay in an agriturismo. And how you find them is, is I’ll put the links in the show notes, but there’s agriturismo.it. Unfortunately, it’s an awful booking engine. So if you find one that you like, look for it on Booking.com cause they usually list on there. And it’s easy to book. I use booking.com a lot actually because I’ve got genius level. And I get discounts and I find it helps me plan it out. And I might book a few places and then change, basically depending on if I’ve changed my mind. But I think if you’re booking the smaller places, it’s good not to cancel too late because you can really impact their business.

Josie (32:29):
yes, so that’s something really important that Katy just touched on as well. Cancellation fees. Right? So hotels, let me just explain this. So you get cheaper if you prepay. Well in advance, right? Because you’re securing that from the hotel. You’re making sure that the hotel knows that Katy’s going to be arriving on this day. She’s prepaid and she’s prepaid for breakfast and everything. Now there’s also the going to be a different fee if you don’t want to prepay because you want to have the flexibility of the cancellation and if you’re not 100% sure because your flights are changing or you haven’t committed. I would strongly suggest to book one that you are able to cancel. But if you’re booking June, July, and August, and you haven’t finalized all your itineraries or you’ve got a couple of hotels that you’re looking at, don’t leave it too late. So you might know that there is something happening in that city that at the moment is available, but all of a sudden it could be filled up and the rights can go high. So just also another note on hotels, how does it work with their rights? Well, how can they charge different rates? So when you book well in advance, they’ve got a whole hotel available and as you get closer, they need to make as much money in what they call yielding of, of their revenue, right? So if they have only 10 or 20 hotel rooms available, they want to maximize that. So therefore the higher the occupancy, the higher the price of that room; because they’re looking at people really wanting to go or because it’s peak time, they might want expensive they want more money for their room.

Katy (34:15):
And I think timing is an excellent point, Josie, because unfortunately, well, fortunately Italy is so popular that you cannot leave your accommodation bookings to the last minute unless you’re really not so fussy. I really am seeing even in what’s considered to be the low season, some of the better hotels just not able to get rooms. Even two months out. So I’m going on a trip in a couple of months and you know, we’ve missed out on places. I’ve left it too late. So if you’re going in summer and you’ve got some accommodation in mind and you’ve had your eye on it book, you need to book as soon as you can. And some people are booking their accommodation up to 12 months in advance as soon as they become available to book. And I would recommend that wholeheartedly because it’s very competitive. So many people want to go to Italy because it’s so wonderful. And you are competing with a lot of people for that accommodation.

Josie (35:14):
Also, I think if it’s a hotel, Katy, if you’re looking at Booking.com the hotels allow certain allocations to them and across the online network. If there is a specific hotel that you like – you stayed there for your wedding anniversary or when you got married and really want to go back, email them. It may be a little bit more expensive, could be cheaper. You never know. So again, if you can’t find it on the online system, also email the hotel cause you’ll find that they may have rooms available, they’re just not putting them on the online. Or you go to the hotel chain website and you can also check there. So there’s different options.

Katy (35:47):
And sometimes hotels are getting a bit wiser too, how much value they can add to their direct customers. So you can often get additions added in and potentially a better room if you book direct online. So there’s swings and roundabouts and different benefits to either booking through one of the booking engines or booking direct. So I do both depending on the situation and that really has worked well for us. Now. I just wanted to say there’s one type of accommodation we haven’t talked about yet, but this is like my favorite. And I’ve actually got a significant birthday coming up in five years that I am actually going to completely use this for. It’s my dream to hire a Villa for a couple of weeks and just have friends and family come and stay.

Josie (36:45):
So I’m ready to come Katy.

Katy (36:46):
Okay, let’s go. All over Italy there are some amazing villas and properties, even in castles actually where you can rent out that entire property and they come with swimming pools and various different options and for various different budgets. But yes, I would love to be able to do that and just invite all my friends and family. That is my dream. I would love to do that. Maybe in Sicily or Puglia and just have everyone just chill out and relax in beautiful scenery in Italy

Josie (37:22):
there’s also one that probably you and I don’t use, but my daughters their friends do. So for those of you who’ve got young kids that or young adults that go on our budget to Europe, they use hostels. So again, some of these hostels that the young adults, our girls are using can also be something that you can look at. They’re quite centrally located. My understanding from listening to the girls where they’ve traveled through Europe, that they find them quite easy to get to and quite budget as well. So those of you that are looking at a different, cheaper, cheaper option, look at those too.

Katy (38:04):
well, let me tell you hostels are not what they used to be.

Josie (38:08):
yes, that’s what I heard. I mean, I remember when the girls said that they were going to stay in a hostel I thought, . “you couldn’t possibly”, and they’ve said “Mum. They’re really great” . And they were, they’ve really enjoyed it.

Katy (38:17):
yes. And there’s some amazing hostels now that offer private rooms and have activities like walking tours that they run and they’re really fantastic these days. So I recommend hostels. And BnBs actually. We haven’t talked about them yet, but they are another option that I guess it’s kind of like a small hotel. They may have a couple of rooms and they usually provide like a nice breakfast and you’ll meet the owners and it’s quite a lovely experience too.

Josie (38:48):
yes, I agree, there’s a lot of options. So a couple of key takeaways for all of you. When looking at accommodation. Read your reviews, check your location, look at the bed configurations and the room configuration. Don’t expect it to be anything like home. Make sure that if you have any special requests, if you have issues with mobility, make sure that you email or look at that, those configurations. Make sure that the hotel is in an area that you’d like to stay. And really just keep reading the information. Again, I’m really big on this reading of information. And taking it in context. Has the person that’s written it put things relevant to you? Is it something that you would do? If there’s a comment on it that the Porter wasn’t very nice. I mean, honestly, everyone has a bad day. So, read those remarks and the feedback with your own judgement. It is a very big topic when it comes to accommodation, but find what’s relevant for you and what you’re comfortable with.

Katy (40:01):
yes. And I think reading the reviews and knowing your requirements is so important because that’s going to set you up for finding the accommodation that’s right for you. I actually only ever go, if I’m looking on booking.com as an example, I only go with the rating nine or above. Actually, I’m pretty fussy about that. And they have to have at least 20 to 30 reviews. So, and you’ve got to read the reviews because what’s golden to someone, is bronze to someone else. So it’s very important to read the reviews and read into it as well.

Josie (40:37):
Do you know what I do, Katy? I actually look at where the review people come from, which country? Because I find that different countries differ in their viewpoints. So I, I look at usually the UK, Australia and US to see what their reviews were. I find that sometimes a review out of a European country can be a little bit different to how we see things. So again, look at it from a cultural background as well because what we look for in a hotel is very different from our European counterparts and what they’re expecting from a hotel.

Katy (41:09):
yes, that’s a really good point. So I can’t stress more to read the reviews and make sure that you know what you’re looking for. Okay. So if you have any more questions about booking accommodation in Italy we’d like you to head on over to our free Italy travel planning Facebook group. And this is the place where you can get tips and recommendations from travelers and people that are in Italy at the moment or have been many, many times and they can help you out. If you are looking for accommodation recommendations on the group, I would like to ask that you are specific about your requirements so that everyone can help you the best they can. So you can find all our accommodation guides and our booking checklist article in the show notes untolditaly.com/podcast. I do create a lot of accommodation guides and there are ones for all the major areas in Italy. So Venice, Florence, Rome, Amalfi coast, Cinque Terre. We have accommodation guides for that so you can check them out. And speaking of the Cinque Terre.

Josie (42:12):
Wow. Katy, I’m so excited about our next episode. So we’re going to be talking to a special guest from Cinque Terre, which is one of my favorite places.

Katy (42:21):
It’s a wonderful. I’m very excited to introduce this guest to you next time. And the area is stunning and it’s on so many bucket lists. So it’s going to be really fascinating to hear what it’s like to live there, cause this person actually lives there, and get the inside scoop on what to do and all the other tips. So thank you for listening grazie. yes. And we’ll be back next time.

Josie (42:41):
We certainly will enjoy. Thank you.

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