At Expat Club we spend a lot of time putting perfect schedules together for all of our trips. Whether we go out and about in one day or travel for a week to another part of our continent or beyond, the selection of our hotel (or hotels) is an integral part for our multiple day trips and longer holidays.
Whereas most operators always select the same type of hotel, Expat Club always analyzes all key variables, including:
- Star rating
- Room sizes
- Room types available (e.g. actual singles, twin rooms, suites)
- Hotel size (number of rooms, number of floors)
- Hotel style, look & feel
- Latest renovation / year of construction
- Additional services (e.g. pool, gym etc)
- Reviews on sites such as Tripadvisor or Expedia
- Location (in town, close to highway, close to metro etc)
- Hotel chain (e.g. Accor, Hilton, Holiday Inn etc)
- Room price
- Hotel bar and restaurant
- Breakfast type and level
You see there are many variables going in to our decision. In other words, instead of by definition looking for the cheapest or the most expensive, a 2* or the most luxurious 5*, we always weigh every variable for every trip.
Expat Club is definitely not a low-budget tour operator. We never offer youth hostels, and we almost never offer 2* hotels. Still, we have offered this in the past for specific trips. For instance, when we travel to Mont Saint-Michel we often stay in Bayeux on Friday and Saturday night. It will give us a few hours on Saturday morning to explore the historic city and see the world-famous 70-meters long Bayeux Tapestry.
In Bayeux itself there are no big hotels, and the only suitable 4* hotel is a 20-minutes dangerous walk along a main route. Therefore, we decided to offer a combination of a standard 2* hotel (La Première Class, which offers not much more than a bed and a tiny bath room), and a standard 3* Campanile hotel. Also those rooms are nothing fancy, although the breakfast is surprisingly good, but they are clean and safe, whereas these hotels combined allow us to walk independently to Bayeux Centre and spend a few hours there. For the rest we are there only to sleep and have breakfast, so all of our guests are normally happy with this solution.
Our standard level for European trip is a good 4* hotel, such as Mercure, Best Western or (better) Best Western Plus, Holiday Inn (Express), Novotel, Leonardo Hotels or Clarion. Sometimes if their prices are too high, or the location is not convenient, or we deem their services not up to the 4* level or any other variable from the list above not to our wishes, then we may opt for a 3* hotel, with names such as Ibis or Ibis Styles, Mercure (their lower class), Campanile, Kyriad or Brit Hotels.
Many operators, unfortunately, take you to a city and simply “dump you” in the cheapest 3* or 4* they could find, leaving you basically chained inside the hotel walls. Although the hotel may be nice, this is something we never do unless… Unless it makes total sense to stay on the edge of a city.
For instance, when we go skiing in the Vosges mountains, we always stay in the Best Western Plus Lafayette at just a minute from the highway and a 55-minutes drive from the ski resort. You may ask immediately, why not in town or closer to the resort? The answer is simple. To get rooms for a group near the resort is very difficult, because the rooms are often books months in advance, and we want to make sure the snow is good enough to actually ski (not always the case). So, we can only secure rooms 10-14 days in advance. On top of that prices are very high and one still has to take a 15-20 minute overcrowded (or mostly full!) skibus. And finally, if it snows heavily on Friday evening, we may not even be able to reach the hotel since roads are not cleaned after 20h00. We almost got stuck the first time we stay in the Vosges!
So we first always look for good/great 4* hotels at good/great locations, wherever we go. We normally always maintain a minimum rating of 8,0 or 4 stars on Tripadvisor or Google, although we sometimes accept slightly lower but generally we are looking for the gems that boast a 8,5 or 4,2 stars review rating. We have noticed this increase in review ratings can be substantial and cause a real “WOW” effect among our participants.
Sometimes we “descend” to the 3* level, primarily when there are no other options available, such as the lovely Derby Hotel in Fiesch, Switzerland. This lovely and highly-rated family run 3* hotel gives a real mountain feel, whereas in the morning we only need 5 minutes to walk to the cable car that takes us up to the 3000 meter high Eggishorn, providing us a magnificent view over Europe’s largest glacier. Btw, in Switzerland virtually all hotels have excellent review ratings, just because the owners take pride in taking care of their property and of you as a respected guest.
For some trips we ascend to the 5* level. This can be because we get an exceptional offer, but even then we want only good 5* hotels. Also it should make sense to stay there in terms of location, or because we spend a little bit more time in the hotel. When we travel beyond Europe, like the Middle East or Africa, we generally focus only on top quality 5* hotels. We do so for safety and hygiene reasons, but also because these trips tend to be longer and have less of a weekend-escape feeling and lean more towards holidays or are just actual longer holidays.
Whatever hotel we are staying in, you can be sure that we have selected it very carefully and that we inspected it beforehand. All hotels are great for couples, friends sharing a room, and for solo travelers, whether they would like stay alone in a room or share it with another solo traveler. Now let’s look at some of our favorite hotels during some of our trips!