Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Pitfalls of Booking Bargain European Trips & How to Avoid Them!

Cherry Sue kindly bought me a ticket to join her and my two nephews for a 4 day break in the Netherlands’ Capital, Amsterdam. I haven’t been away with the lads in a long time so I’m really looking forward to catching up, even if they make me feel ancient as I still can’t believe they are grown men (Sue here, WHO YA TELLIN'?!). There were a couple of pitfalls in booking though, so I thought it'd make a handy guide so you can avoid them altogether. 

As it was a surprise she didn’t tell me when she was booking, unfortunately she was duped by edreams. I would have told her to stay well clear of them, they are notorious for horrendous customer service and 'dubious business practices', just one look at their social media will show you that. Ryanair are currently embroiled in a legal battle with them to stop them from using their graphics, so you think you are on Ryanair’s website when you are in fact on a mirror image site that is edreams

First of all she booked Amsterdam and they sent her confirmation mail with Eindhoven as the destination. When she eventually got through to someone she said ah yeah that’s no problem it’s near enough to Amsterdam! WHAT?! Then they took a double payment from her debit card and held it for over a week, numerous calls, mails & tweets later she was refunded the overpayment. Well now she knows not to use them again and hopefully you do too! 

I was asked however to give a hand with getting us a hotel or hotels I should say as we are going to Eindhoven we decided to spend a night there and 2 nights in Amsterdam. My first port of call was trivago.ie as they are a price comparison website, then lastminute.ie as even though they are predominantly for last minute breaks you can also book in advance and if you happen to find a secret hotel you might just save a packet. I wrote a post all about the secrets of secret hotels you can catch up here. I must admit I don’t really use hotels.com anymore as, for the most part, they only give you a room only rate so by the time you add breakfast it ends up costing more than if you book direct with the hotel(!).

I decided on Amsterdam Tropen Hotel, a modern museum hotel located just 2.5km from Central Station. I found this with Amoma.com through trivago.ie. Just before I booked it I received a mail from Amoma, as I had used them before, inviting me to book any hotel for any dates using promo code LOVE10 for a 10% discount to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I was delighted; it’s nice to get an extra few Euro off an already good deal. 

See why I fell for The Tropen?

Now this is where it gets tricky, to book with the discount code you must book through the link on the mail they sent. Off I went and clicked the link only to find that the hotel is actually more expensive using the link. When I searched through Trivago.ie I got a price of €360 for 2 rooms for 4 adults including breakfast with no credit/debit card fees. When I used the link from Amoma.com I was quoted €390 using the promo code brought it down to €351 BUT there is a credit card fee of €10.49 bringing it back up to slightly more than the original quote with Trivago.ie. There is however no fee for using a debit card so I booked it that way and got the €351 rate. 

A peek inside The Tropen

While I was researching all of this my phone rang, it was Amoma, they had seen I was searching prices as I had signed in and wondered if they could help. I explained the discrepancies in prices, especially with the credit card fee differences, unfortunately he couldn’t help, he just wanted the booking. The moral of this particular story? Just be careful when you receive a promo code as it might be what it seems at all. We paid €87.75pp for 2 nights B&B for Amsterdam Tropen Hotel, this does not include a local city tax that must be paid at all hotels in the Netherlands, ours will be €19 total for this stay.

The Queen Hotel - Eindhoven
It was then time to book Eindhoven, as we are only staying one night I decided we really needed to be slap bang in the centre of it all so we wouldn’t waste any time travelling when we could be enjoying the culture (beer and food!). I scoured the usual sites trivago.ie, hotelscombined.ie even priceline.com. I found a fantastic deal with booking.com through trivago.ie for The Queen Hotel on Market Square; you couldn’t get more central if you tried. We decided to book room only as a cafe nearby was recommended to us for breakfast. The total cost for 1 night, 2 twin rooms, room only was €112.10. That works out as €28pp excluding €3.50 City tax pp to be paid locally. 

Rooms at The Queen

We will be using public transport for the duration of our stay in the Netherlands; I got all the information we needed about trains, trams & buses from Gloogle Maps, http://9292.nl/en and http://en.gvb.nl/ The last two are local public transport websites.

Sop how's about you come along with us? We’ll be snapchatting from @ItsCherrySue & @Stonetravel, we’ll also be tweeting from @itscherrysue, @stonetravel4 & @DIEhardDublin (that's our movie buff Aaron by the by).

Have you any recommendations of where to eat/ drink? Or what to see/ do while we are in Amsterdam and Eindhoven? We’d love to hear 'em!

1 comment:

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