With one exception to date, we do our own trip planning, punctuated with short, local city or day trips by experienced companies like Devour or Heart of Scotland, among many others. Our overnight accommodations are generally either through Booking.com or Airbnb. Generally, trips are ten days to two weeks, and we only do carry-on (no checked bags, although one trip we checked one for the return trip to allow us to carry on souvenirs that were larger). Our preferred suitcases and backpacks are on our Travel Essentials page.
Like a growing number of people, we've been more sensitive to the use of Airbnbs, not only because their cost is often equal to or greater than a hotel once cleaning fees are included, but because the use of Airbnbs in some cities is adding to the cost and availability of housing for locals. Still, some Airbnbs offer great value, a unique location, or the chance to do laundry mid-trip for those of us to pack only a carry-on. We generally look at all options.
We like Booking.com because we end up dealing directly with the property we are staying at (unlike many other reservation sites) and can often choose not only hotels, but B&Bs, resorts, and apartments.
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Ready to be inspired? This page is growing as we go back to write about where we've stayed.
SPAIN - Andalucia
In southern Spain, we did a mix of hotels and Airbnbs, suiting our budget, need for laundry, proximity to sites.
Seville (Sevilla) -- We split the difference between price and location, staying at the H10 Corregidor Boutique Hotel. Sounds expensive, but wasn't and that perfect balance of close to some sites but still quiet. We were met with a glass of bubbly cava at check in, where we casually sat with one of the hotel staff to discuss our room, itinerary, and local sites.
The beds were comfy, air conditioning wonderful (we needed it during the unexpected heatwave in May). We did not pay upfront for the optional breakfast, but after seeing it laid out and the open-air patio with a fountain we decided to splurge one morning. (A few doors down there is the Borbortea Coffee Lab with eat in or take out espresso, lattes, teas, and wonderful arepas and other baked items, so you can do breakfast like a local).
Cordoba -- Here, we opted for an AirBnB that had a spectacular view. It's by a Superhost, which is our preference. It ended up being $130 per night in May, including all fees, but had 2 bedrooms and the washer we needed at that point for clothes. Off season, such as July in Spain, it's as low as $58 per night plus fees.
We picked up keys to the flat from a hotel around the corner (Hotel Hacienda Posada de Vallina) which frankly looked like a lovely place to stay. They were accommodating and allowed us to leave our luggage there on the day of departure as we continued to explore the city.
Staying immediately outside one of the gates to the Mezquita was lovely, both during the day and at night. In fact, this was the gate we used to access the early morning entry to the tower. When it got too hot and we embraced the afternoon siesta, we could hear guitarists serenading at the outdoor cafe below us. We could easily walk to most of the main sites, including the Roman bridge, the Jewish quarter, the patios and more.
Note: the hotel pictured is NOT the one where we picked up the keys. That one was around the corner of the Mezquita.