The other night, my daughter gave me yet another form to sign.
This one included the news that the school was organizing a Northern California college tour over the Veterans Day holiday. They will be visiting UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Stanford, and campuses in San Francisco.
My first thought was, "That's great - this is a good opportunity for her to see her options."
My second thought was, "That's great - this is a good opportunity for my husband and me to plan a romantic weekend away."
Everyone talks about the adjustments a couple makes when they have a baby. But nobody tells you that it only gets harder when that baby grows into a teenager. Babies sleep a lot. Teens stay up really late. This can wreak havoc with your love life.
You know another thing that makes getting in the mood difficult? Being strapped for cash. That wasn't a problem 24 years ago, when the two of us were just dating. We were young and in the mood ALL THE TIME. Now, between aging, menopause, and stress (his as well as mine) -- let's just say that a change of scenery does wonders for us. I just need to get one on a budget.
So where do you go to find the best deals on hotels? There are plenty of travel sites that will list hotels and rates in a given city. I usually will visit three or four at once, each in a window of its own, until I find the deal that's best for me.
But this time, I decided to try a new one: Room 77, which does all that research for me in one quick, easy search. The question is, where to go?
I joked to my daughter that her dad and I might run into her in one of the cities she's visiting on her tour.
So I armed myself with her itinerary and gave Room 77 a try.
Select your city and dates (as you would any other search). Room 77 gives you listings in a flash. Refine the search: I don't want to see anything under a 3-star rating. Do you want free hotel wi-fi? Complimentary breakfast? You can filter on those features, too. San Francisco can cost you $50-$60 a night just for parking. I'd love to see if there are any options to get it for free.
Once you have your list, you can read Room 77's detailed hotel descriptions, which include photos and hotel layouts. With other travel sites, I end up having to visit the actual hotel website for this information, so I find this especially convenient. And I love the Insider Tips (like the location of the queitest rooms) Room 77 features on each detailed listing. The site also links to Trip Advisor reviews.
And one of the best features for a budget-conscious traveler is that Room 77 lists all the current rates from all the major travel sites, with the cheapest on top (not necessarily theirs). So if Orbitz or Expedia is offering that room for less than Room 77, that's the first one you will see.
I'm also intrigued by the site's "Room Concierge" feature: If you book your hotel through Room 77 and tell them what is most important to you (great view, quiet room, extra space) -- they will work with the hotel to get you one that best matches your needs. This is something I'd like to try!
My Travel Options
We spent a lovely weekend several years ago in the Central Coast wine country where Cal Poly is located. And we could indulge in a little tasting.
There are several hotels to choose from on the central coast: Some are located inland near the vineyards, some in the picturesque little towns of Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo and others in beach towns like Pismo Beach and Morro Bay. The best deal that weekend is at a property I've always wanted to try, the Inn at Morro Bay: With a Room 77 special rate of $106 per night ($13 less than Expedia, and $19 less than Orbitz).
Palo Alto, the home of Stanford, is another possibility -- although it might be tempting to forego the goal of having a romantic weekend and just visit with all my friends who live in Silicon Valley.
Room 77 is offering a special rate of just $99 that weekend, at the W Silicon Valley. However, a quick glance at the review shows that the hotel is actually located in the East Bay (not as close to Palo Alto as I would like). But in the next sentence, it says that it's close to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge, which my husband has said he'd like to visit. So this is definitely a possibility.
Of course, there's always San Francisco, which may be one of the most romantic cities in the country (and one I never get tired of visiting).
But it's expensive, and we're talking holiday weekend. And I like to stay on Union Square. I wondered what Room 77 might find for me there and predictably, I could find no four-star hotels that cost as little as the others I researched. So all things considered, $199 per night at the Hyatt Regency (in the Financial District, across from the Ferry Building) is not too shabby.
As for free hotel parking, I actually found a few listings that offered that -- but they weren't actually IN the city.
So now I've got information -- I just need to share it with my husband and we can book!
Never wonder whether you’ve gotten the best deal on your hotel room again. Check out Room 77 when planning your next travel adventure!
I was selected for participation in this campaign as a member of Clever Girls Collective.