Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Bath museum, anonymity and choice

Yesterday I got an anonymous comment on an old post about the Museum of Asian Art in Bath. Not a nasty one, a nice polite one asking about my old post where I said I had found it 'disappointing'. Not even truly anonymous in fact because Mrs MA Dixon sighed her name. But, because she had used the anonymous option to leave the comment ( presumably not being a blogger - she said she had 'stumbled on my post whilst googling') I cannot now reply to her. (Save as below).

But the experience lead me off on one of those random linking in the brain sessions to inspire this post. I am busy booking accommodation for our round the world trip. This takes hours and hours and hours. I love it. I really do. However, Dennis says I am odd in this regard. So I am curious as to where I fit in the general range of habits when it comes to booking holiday accommodation and ask for your comments by way of research.

His way is simple - get your wife to narrow it down to three options then pick ( I suspect guessing which one he thinks is the 'right' answer i.e the one I like best!).

He firmly believes that most people don't care where they stay. They book the first place thy see in the right city within their price range on the basis that ' its only a place to sleep'.

That brings me out in a cold sweat. My method has several stages:

1. I google as many phrases and I know will bring up accommodation lists in say Auckland.

2. I trawl through each and every item on each and every list, keeping open an Internet Explorer for each possibilty.

3. I reject anything with less than 4 stars or over my preset budget

4. I reject anything with hideous bed spreads, cheap furniture, insufficient room to walk around a bed, visible aircon units right outside the window, locations above bars, sofas with uncomfortable arms and other pet hates. I actually care whether the hotel has broadband access and I do look at the menu for breakfast. (Stop laughing. I enjoy it!)

5. I reject pretentious lodges in New Zealand which really are small hotels with stone walls and which charge £82o per night for a room. ( Yes really.)

6. I then take my shortlist to review sites such as 'tripadvisor' - which is where the connection with Bath museum comes in. Reviews also have to be filtered. What if the person who loves the place is the designer of those hideous bedspreads? How can they be trusted? What if they say a place was a 'luxurious treat' when they usually go camping? Specific comments are of use or comparisons with other places I already know. Otherwise I trust my own view more.

6. This process usually results in one place which stands out as being 'us' - hence the photos which are from http://www.aucklandwaterfont.co.uk/ where I reserved an apartment. However, some times it is difficult to find something just right and the search has to be repeated with more inventive words or links from tourism places found.

7. I can compromise. For example, in Rotorua I sacrificed my reaction to the curtains table skirts in this suite ( what were they thinking?!) to the fact that you can get a float plane to pick you up from the bottom of the garden to take you flying over volcanoes.

So, anyway - I don't mind being obsessively freaky because I know I will have the best place to stay anywhere I go. But I'd be interested in what your accommodation choosing methods are. Closer to mine or closer to Dennis?

And as for that museum. Mrs Dixon, if you are reading, given that you said you liked ceramics, I think you will love it. The reason I was disappointed was because there was little 'art' as in paintings or textiles - mostly ceramics! See how careful you have to be with reviews?


Quilt Pixie said...

oh I'm much more a Dennis -shopper for accomodations. I live simply and find even as long as the room is clean, I can be comfortable. Clean matters. Clean matters a lot. after that, no real "needs" on my list, so one spot truly is as good as the next for me... If its "too perfect" I find the accomodations a distraction from the attractions in the area. I don't want to remember accomodations, and will if they are "too nice" more than if they are crumby... I think I'm likely way the other extreame from you. I am in awe of people who spend the time. I'm glad it brings you joy given the hours you spend on it...

imquilternity said...

I'm probably somewhere between you and Dennis. I also want attractive and clean, VERY clean! I'm totally repelled by unattractive (sometimes even tacky) furnishings. Price is also an issue most of the time, so I look for 3-4 stars in my price range with attractive furnishings. When I stop looking is when I get overwhelmed with too many choices. Then, my husband "helps" with the decision!

Terry said...

I think I am neither a Helen nor a Dennis accommodation chooser. I tend to look for places that are interesting and reflect some part of the culture in which I am traveling. We are big on small hotels and family-run hotels. I rely heavily on the Lonely Planet guide books, which are pretty honest about cleanliness and friendliness and relative value. Then I go online and have a look. I will seldom book a hotel that does not have a web site. Like you, I want to see what it looks like, but I am not put off by less than luxurious views, if the place has some authentic charm. American chain hotels, which exist all over the world, (Marriott, Holiday Inn, etc.) are a reliable fallback, but in my view they are the very last resort. We have found some really great small hotels in our travels and very few disappointments. I do want to remember accomodations and many figure as some of the best memories of good trips.

Kristin L said...

I'm probably closest to Terry (love Lonely Planet and Rick Steves), although we've always been rather constrained by budget. I've had to forgive a lot of 70s lamp shades and hideous bedcovers along the way, but the trade-off is lovely locations and fantastic breakfasts. NOTHING beats breakfast at a small family run German hotel! We also base our choices on what we're doing. I stayed the night at a horrible (but clean) chain when we knew we'd be arriving late and leaving early. Charm and location reign supreme if we're staying longer. :-)

Diana said...

I think I must be more Dennis than you, mostly for Terry's reasons. Smaller family owned places are usually pretty nice. I don't mind a slightly shabby place as long as it is fairly clean--no visible plant or animal life at a minimum. And a seat on the commode. I draw the line at a seat on the commode.

Since we have to travel on a pretty strict budget, I'd rather put the money on local food and shopping.

Your way does sound awfully nice, though, as I think back on some of our more memorable accomodations...

Christine said...

Your method is spookily identical to mine, but I have been a bit peeved on occasion to find that after long deliberation my first choice was unavailable! Must admit that the breakfast menu does play a big role.
So far, this approach has only produced 1 slight disappointment, when a New England inn changed hands between my booking and our arrival and neither old nor new proprietor thought it necessary to inform us. But the Fawlty-esque new owner provided a great story to tell, which made up for it!
Just off now to book flights and look for a good hotel in Oakville, Ont.!
Happy travels, Helen!
Christine in Scotland