Book well in advance or at the last minute?
By Gery de Pierpont
Both approaches have their adepts, as for airline tickets
If you are the provident type or have accurately identified the location of your next stay in history, then go right ahead and make your reservation in good time
Firstly, because there are only few hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfast places or holiday locations that have remained sufficiently authentic to give you a genuine get-away-from-it-all historical experience. You have probably already discovered this for yourselves: an historical building can only offer you a “heritage experience” if its walls, floors, ceilings, wainscoting and original furniture are still around to tell their story. These echoes are only possible if the owners have opted to promote the spirit of their historic domain … these two conditions, rarely found together, explain why such places are thin on the ground.
As it is the unique character of these “nights in history” that makes this kind of accommodation such a big pull to heritage lovers round the globe, waiting lists can be long, particularly in large cities and tourist locations. For such destinations, may I suggest that you make your reservation in good time? The reputation of certain historic hotels is such, that the low season is your best bet or failing that choose a date for next year.
The good news is that there are plenty of small, genuinely authentic places in the countryside or in locations often overlooked by tour operators. intoHistory exists precisely to unearth these for you. But here again, you will sometimes have to have a good dose of patience, because such haunts “off the beaten track” tend not to be quite as quick off the mark as the larger hotels. And of course a certain effort will often be needed on both sides to cope with another language …
However, you will be glad to know that if you plan your stay in history several months in advance, you will have all the time in the world to get yourself fully prepared for this adventure. By boning up on the region and its history, viewing a documentary or film made at the location, diving into a historical novel or listening to some period music. Besides, isn’t it just as much fun preparing for an event than experiencing it?
However, fans of surprises may be well advised to wait until the last minute …
Those who like impromptu mini breaks do not have to worry: with a stroke of luck, you will find a period destination available even if you decide to set out next weekend.
The most sought-after accommodation places do (also) have blank spaces in their booking calendars, especially outside long weekends and school holidays. They are also faced with last-minute cancellations. Sometimes they will even offer you a higher category room at the standard rate. And if the last vacant room does not match your expectations, most hotelliers are often willing to grant you a discount on the price.
If you are flexible as regards days and the destination is not a priority for you, then try your luck!
Is there a destination on the intoHistory website that makes you dream already? Let us know!