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Rome Hotel Reservation - what to know before you book

Are you about to make a Rome hotel reservation? As someone on the hotel side of things, I can tell you how to make sure you get the best rate and to make sure you get the room you want.

There are two ways to book hotels in Rome Italy: directly with the hotel itself, or with a travel agent. Online booking sites such as Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia etc, are all travel agents.

Before you book, you should know:



Rome Hotels Bookings: The Pros of Using an Online Booking Site

  • Many hotels are listed, so you can compare rates, photos and location in one place. This might be helpful when you are not sure which Rome hotel to book, or even which neighborhood to stay in.
  • Guest reviews are available so you can see comments of others who have stayed at the various hotels you are looking for. (Each booking engine has reviews from its own users, so these may vary from booking engine to booking engine. In the case where one booking engine is a subsidiary of another, you may find a way to see more variation of reviews. For  example, Hotels.com, Expedia, Tripadvisor and Venere are all part of the same company so if you go on one of these, you can usually see a link to reviews made on one of their partner sites. Booking.com is part of Priceline.com; Travelocity is partnered with IgoUgo and Lastminute.com; Hostelworld is part of Lonelyplanet.com, Hostels.com, Backpackonline and Bed and Breakfast world.com.
  • It’s easy to narrow your search by neighborhood, price range, or accommodation type.
  • Booking is usually very simple, especially if you already have a log-in and password with a site, such as with Expedia or Travelocity.
  • You can combine your Rome hotel reservation online with a rental car or even flight booking.

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Rome Hotels Bookings: The Cons of Using an Online Booking Site

  • Many Rome hotels and especially smaller B&Bs and inns do not open their rooms on booking sites during mid and high season, and special occasions such as New Years. Booking sites, like all travel agents, charge a commission or fee. So hotels will keep their inventory for direct bookings for mid and high season, until they need to open them up at the last minute.
  • Many hotels do not keep their live inventory up to date on the back end of the booking sites, so you may wind up booking a room, but not actually getting that room or even that hotel. (The hotel will accommodate you in some way, as they are obliged to do so, through the contract they have with the booking site, but it may not be the room or hotel you actually want.)
  • While it may seem that you are getting the best rate for your Rome hotel reservation…you may actually do better by contacting the hotel itself and negotiating a better rate, either by paying cash, foregoing breakfast or, in low season, simply asking for one.
  • Because hotels pay commission to these online sites, they are less inclined to honor the booking or to give the best room to a booking through a site, and will give preference to a direct booking or previous guest. This is especially true for small hotels and B&Bs.
  • Some back-end systems are rigidly set up and it’s not possible for a hotel to maintain a full inventory or special offers as they would directly. This may limit your options for accommodation within a given hotel.

As an owner of a small boutique hotel in Rome, I can tell you that all of the above cons are true for us. I have found people often don’t realize the difference between using a booking site and contacting us directly. They will write us for peak season dates, six months in advance and ask if we are really fully booked for those dates. We may not be, however, we don’t open live inventory on booking sites until we need to fill at the last minute, as we will fill up on our own. Why pay agency commissions when we don’t have to?

I am not saying not to use an online booking engine for your Rome hotel reservation. They do a very good online business, and for a reason. They make it easy to choose and book your Rome hotel. Just be aware of how they work, so that if you do use one, you can maximize the quality of your booking.

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How to get the best rate for your Rome Italy Hotel Booking

If you choose to book your Rome hotel online, there are some sites that show you all the different rates available on the many booking sites out there. One excellent option is HotelsCombined

If you choose to book directly with the hotel, you might ask for a lower rate in low and mid-seasons, and to request a rate without breakfast (if you don’t care about this – you can also go to a local caffe and have a cappuccino and croissant for under 3€ if you stand up at the bar.) You might also simply say that you saw a better rate online, and ask for the hotel to give you a lower rate if they can. The lower the season, the easier this can be.

Many small hotels and B&Bs in Rome also offer discounts for paying with cash, as they incur high fees for accepting credit cards.

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How to get the room you want for your Rome Hotel Reservation

If you are using a booking site for your Rome hotel reservation, note that not all room types may be listed. Also note very carefully all the details about the rooms listed. I have found that very often, people book a room with us online, based purely on price, and don’t realize that it’s a smaller than normal room, or has an external bathroom. Read the room description very carefully before booking.

Even so, once you have confirmed your booking, don’t just leave it at that. Write to the hotel and re-confirm your booking. Then ask what options there are for the room type you booked (floor, bed type etc.) That way you show that you are really coming, and are interested in your booking. The hotel will take more care of you this way.

If you are booking directly with the hotel, check the hotel’s web site and understand what options there are for the number of people in your party: floor, room size, bathroom setup, bed type etc. Ask about the options before you book, to ensure you will get exactly what you want.

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