This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Disclosure, visit this page.

I just received a great question from a reader which I thought I would share with you, along with my answer. Gail C. wrote: “I’m wondering how you would advise me to choose a nice little hotel in Milan, Italy. I want to go to the Duomo and hopefully see the Last Supper…..among other things. But have NO idea where to start to choose a hotel.”

How to find the best hotel or vacation rental.
Thanks for the great question, Gail! Unfortunately, I haven’t been to Milan in years so I don’t have any firsthand knowledge but that’s okay because these tips aren’t about Milan specifically and can be applied to any location in the world. Since I haven’t been everywhere, especially recently, thanks to the pandemic, it’s imperative to get updated information. So when I’m looking to book a place in a city I haven’t ever been to or haven’t visited recently, this is how I do it:

1. Ask friends for recommendations

Word of mouth is always a great option. I ask friends and family in person or by posting a message on my private Facebook page, where I have friends and family members from all over the world who travel frequently. It’s always great to get a recommendation from someone you trust who has personally experienced a hotel and has first-hand knowledge about it.

2. Hire a travel advisor

‘Travel advisor’ is the new word for travel agents since many traditional agents went out of business at the start of this century due to technology. But they’ve made a comeback, especially in the luxury market. No one wants to sit on the phone for ages, trying to get a new flight if yours is canceled because of a huge storm or an Icelandic volcano eruption, which happened in 2010; European flights were halted for six days.  I recommend hiring a travel advisor who specializes in either a particular region or field. For example for cruises, I use a cruise agent (Mike Gelman from Cruise Planners 1-800-724-5868 or gelman24 @ For destinations, I suggest using a Virtuoso advisor.

3. Research

If you don’t want to hire someone, you can do the research yourself. Google the destination and look for the area you want to stay in (close to specific attractions, the beach, etc.) Then search for your preferred type of hotel (luxury, budget, family-friendly) using Expedia,, and

4. Get a vacation rental

Since I have two little kids and appreciate accommodations with extra space and a kitchen, I would look at vacation rentals via Airbnb, Vrbo or Vacation Perfect, one of our favorite places to find luxury apartment rentals in London, Paris and Italy.

5. Use AI

There’s no denying Artificial Intelligence is the future and companies are going to be using it for everything. Just two days ago, Expedia Group unveiled Romie, an AI assistant that is a travel agent, a personal assistant and a concierge all in one. Romie helps travelers save time by sharing recommendations curated to their personal preferences. I haven’t used it or others like it yet as I like to do things the old-fashioned way and prefer a human I can trust. But if an AI assistant sounds good, this might be the option for you.

6. Get a good guidebook

Thanks to a reader, I’m adding another reason. Get a solid recent guidebook either through your local library, independent bookstore or Amazon. Here are some of the top brands: Fodors | Frommers | Lonely Planet | National Geographic |Rick Steves.

I hope this helps you in planning your vacation and finding a great place to stay. I know it helped Gail as she said she ended up booking an Airbnb.


Did you know your electronic devices should always be charged when going through security?
The travel gadget flight attendants never leave home without
Going on a cruise? Be sure to bring this
The genius phone hack to try when your plane doesn’t have an in-flight entertainment system
Travel hack: How to use your wireless headphones to watch in-flight movies

Want more travel news, tips and deals? Sign up to Johnny Jet’s free newsletter and check out these popular posts: The Travel Gadget Flight Attendants Never Leave Home Without and 12 Ways to Save Money on Baggage Fees. Follow Johnny Jet on MSNFacebook, InstagramPinterest, and YouTube for all of my travel posts.

4 Comments On "How to find the best hotel or vacation rental"
  1. Sandra|

    Borrow travel books from your local library, either in person or on line. You get a lot of info in one place and can bookmark or copy sections you need.

  2. Marilyn B|

    We are going to Milan at the beginning of October. Not sure when Gail plans to go, but if she wants to see the Last Supper she needs to pre-book a timed ticket. Tickets are limited to 35 people every 15 minutes. They go on sale on specific dates (Google for the website which has all the details) and my understanding is they go very quickly – some one said in 5 minutes. Also, the time the tickets go on sale is Milan time (I think it is noon) so that’s very early in the USA (really early if she’s in CA!!). If you cannot book a timed ticket to meet your needs, look for a guided tour (check Viator) that will provide access as part of a city walking tour.

    As for hotels, she can use Google Maps to see what hotels are close to the city center. Milan is not cheap so she probably wants a B&B type hotel. The Milan forum on TripAdvisor can be helpful with questions, recommendations, etc. This website was recommended by one of the Milan destination experts on those forums:

    Wishing her “Buon Viaggio”.

  3. Martha|

    My thoughts:
    1) Location is important. You probably don’t want to be right in the heart of the tourist district – often extremely noisy and perhaps pricey. But get advice on what neighborhood to stay in because you will spend time strolling in the evening. Don’t be tempted to save a few dollars staying on the periphery of a city – the time spent commuting isn’t worth it.
    2) In hotels and Airbnbs – always look at the pictures of the bed – a slouchy mattress and poor quality, dirty linens will tell you a lot.
    3). The room is never any better than the photos.
    4) Don’t hesitate to stay in small family-run establishments.

    Best of luck!

  4. Gayle Kiser|

    Best way to get cheapest business class air to Corfu?

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *