I've been booking housing - mostly just for the first few weeks of the trip, for a host of reasons, not least my near total lack of interest in "finding a hotel room when you get there" in countries where I don't speak the language. It's not like I can't or haven't done it in the past, but I'm getting all old and risk-averse, and prefer to have things sorted out and to have made an informed choice. Tripadvisor and lonelyplanet are awesome - so far The Internet has saved me from booking inexpensive rooms suggested by the university hotel booking system (through hotels.com) which would have brought me into contact with bedbugs (Berlin), a psycho hotel attendant who likes to let himself into single women's rooms in the middle of the night "to see if they are ok" (Venice) and a hotel that is mostly used as a cot by prostitutes (Munich).

I have mostly been looking for rooms that are central, inexpensive, and in hotels that are well-reviewed and have something to recommend them in terms of having individual character. I'll spend my first night at the SORAT hotel in Berlin and get on my way to Brunswick the next morning. I've got a room in Braunscshweig in the pentahotel (which is going to cost a fortune - I couldnt' find safe/central inexpensive hotel rooms there for all my efforts - I'll be burning off the tariffs for that one by staying in a super inexpensive shared apartment at the re4 hostel in Erfurt and hopefully I'll turn up something similar in Nuremberg). In Munich I'm staying at the Arthotel, which looks like it will be funky and cool. In Vienna, I'm staying at a pension which has evidently been a coachhouse/hotel/inn/etc. since Hector was a pup - and is now a Best Western? The most rococo Best Western in the world, that is - the pension Arenberg (and all the others except the one in Brunswick) had an amazing off-season hotel deal - about $50 usd a night. It's a good time of year to be doing this, though less pretty of course than it is in high season. In Salzburg I'll be at the Hotel Belmondo - for $38 a night, though it's a four-star hotel (by some accounts worthy only of three).

My favorite pissy tripadvisor review came from the entries on the Hotel Belmondo. Some jackass gave it the worst rating possible and had this to say [underlined emphasis mine]:

My wife and I stayed at Hotel Belmondo - Salzburg for 1 night in Sep, 2007. This is the worst hotel I have ever stayed so far. The staff there is very rude and not helpful. It was raining heavily outside when we arrived at the hotel. My wife and I each was carrying a big baggage and had to hold an umbrella, but the staff there just watched us open the door and got soaked without giving a hand. Also, when we asked for check-in, the 2 staff at the counter were talking to each other. They just told us to wait and we had to wait for more than 10 minutes.The room is small though it is clean. However, our room has a painting with a spooky woman. I was so scared that I would be frighted to death when I woke up at midnight. So, I took it off the wall. We already saw the sharings from others that this is not a good hotel. However, we did not expect that it is so bad. We DO NOT recommend this hotel to anyone.

What a baby. I looked at the other six (out of 49) bad reviews and they were all equally pissy. Management wouldn't buy us an extra fan to have in our room and never replied to our letter of complaint! kind of thing. Good grief. My second favorite bad review (again, in which the reviewer gave it the worst possible rating and then justified it in a comment) "My husband and I stayed here over Christmas. When we arrived we found someone's sock on the chair and cigarette ashes on the windowsill" - oh, GOD. THE HORROR. (And my bet is that the sock was the cleaning lady's - left behind while dusting. Wearing socks on your hands to dust is a total smart housekeeper thing.)

I would kind of like to see the painting of the spooky woman. If I meet a friendly person on the hotel staff I might even ask them if they have any idea what room that would be and have a look at it myself. Maybe take some photographs. And create a web site to openly mock the dude who wrote the review.



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