Why you should always book direct.

Step, or rather navigate, away from Expedia, Hotels.com and their ilk. The best room, rate, service and stay come right from booking with the hotel directly.

While third-party booking sites can be a useful starting point for researching what hotels are available in certain destinations and at what price points, that’s probably the extent to which they should be used. Reserving directly with a hotel is the safest and best bet for reasons ranging from receiving special treatment to direct recourse should something go wrong.

Accountability: When the reservation relationship is between the guest and the hotel only, it’s clean and easy because there are only two parties involved: the customer and the business. When a third party (booking site) gets involved is when things can get messy. For example, sometimes reservations are not actually processed and the site and the hotel can pass the blame back and forth. This can potentially leave you with the wrong room or without a room at all, and there’s little hope for recourse.

If you want to see some horror stories, take a gander at ConsumerAffairs.com, where Hotels.com has 1/5 stars from more than 1,300 reviews.

Price matching: The big and probably only draw with booking through sites like Kayak and Travelocity is that they seem to turn up the lowest prices, even if it’s just by a few dollars. But what’s not yet common (enough) knowledge is that most hotels — especially chain hotels — will scramble to get your direct booking and match any price out there. All you have to do is present the cheaper price you found elsewhere for the same stay.

Marriott has a Look No Further Best Rate Guarantee policy that promises that it will not only match the lowest hotel rate found, but also give an extra 25% discount.

Room choice: Hotels only set aside a certain block of rooms for third-party platforms. Obviously, hotels keep the best rooms and most variety for themselves to sell directly. This can make a big difference when it’s a property where a standard room can vary greatly in size, which is especially common in old properties constructed ages ago, when rooms (and, well, people too) were smaller. A little online research can often unearth what type of room might really be linked to booking through a third-party site, like this petite room in Boston from Priceline.

More flexibility: When you book directly, hotels will often be more willing and able to help should you need to change your dates or even cancel, because they’re not bound by some third-party deal. Reserving a hotel room through a third-party site can essentially create and lock in a contract for a stay, which can limit wiggle room for the guest and hotel staff.

This also means that if you book directly, the hotel can do more to compensate a guest — like waive the cost of an entire stay — should something go wrong or not be up to snuff.

Better service, plus perks: Hotel staff might not come out and say it, but they’re inclined to treat guests better when those guests are giving them more money. Direct bookings are more profitable to them than ones through third-party sites that take a cut, and staff generally can see right in the computer system how a room was booked. They’re definitely checking the computer when a guest drops a hint about an upgrade.

Also, someone who reserves a room on a site like Expedia is a prime pick for “walking,” which is when a guest is sent to another property because of overbooking (a common practice) according to Jacob Tomsky, author of Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles and So-Called Hospitality. 

Hotels also have the power and inventory to go above-and-beyond a standard hotel booking to create special packages or throw in perks like free breakfast. For example, Starwood is currently running an offer for its Mexico and Panama resorts that include free nights, food and beverage credits and upgrades. Third-party platforms only work with the basics, which for hotels is just rooms.

Points: The only way to earn hotel loyalty points for a stay and climb the hospitality stairway to status heaven is to book directly with the property. Some platforms do run their own independent rewards programs, but those points are only good on their specific sites.

eviivo awads 2016 - Hidden Gem Award North East

Winners of the Hidden Gems North East award 2016

eviivo awards 2016 winnerWe are so happy to announce, last week after attending as finalists in the Eviivo Awards 2016 held at the Shakespeare Globe in London, to have WON the ‘Hidden Gems’ award for the North East of England.

15% Discounted Rates by Booking Direct

Book your stay via our own website and SAVE up-to 15% off your room rate.

GOLD Award 2015

Today the Bondgate Boutique received a GOLD award from Quality in Tourism.

Thank you to all our staff for their hard work and comitment providing a 1st class place to stay here in Alnwick.

Cragside House estate drive.

A short clip of us driving through the beautiful Cragside House estate. (3rd June, 2015)

For more information about Cragside House please visit: Cragside House, Rothbury.

Tom Jones in Alnwick

Tom Jones performs in Alnwick this summer

Tom Jones will be performing in Alnwick this summer in the pastures beneath the Alnwick Castle.

After the huge success of previous concerts starring Jools Holland, Status Quo, 10cc and Jessie J among others, a double bill has been announced for August

Date: Saturday, August 8 2015
Venue: The Pastures, Alnwick Castle.
Ticket Prices are: £38.50 for the first release, £45 or £95 for a VIP ticket, which includes private bar and toilets and an exclusive viewing area. Tickets are subject to a booking fee. To take advantage of this offer, you need to go to the follow this link and enter the passwordnorthumberlandgazette. The code will expire at 10pm on Sunday.

Online: The rest of the tickets go on sale on Monday and are available from www.skiddle.com and www.ticketmaster.com.
The Pink Elephant Mirror

Pink Elephant Cocktail Bar Mirror

Mirror from the Oxford Galleries, Pink Elephant Cocktail Bar.

The Oxford Galleries was featured in the Michael Caine movie Get Carter (1971)

The world famous Oxford Galleries, where everyone who was anyone in Newcastle met and danced, in the days when shops had a half day closing, and the shop girls went to the tea dance to meet the fellers, who were supposed to be at work. On Saturdays they also had a tea dance when fellers, who were supposed to be at the football went to meet the girls. In short, it was THE meeting place in Newcastle.

The Oxford Galleries had no open licence, so members only could go into the Pink Elephant Cocktail Bar, and the Tudor Lounge. This mirror was the centrepiece of the Pink Elephant cocktail Bar for over 50 years.

Bamburgh Castle

Tales From Northumberland with Robson Green

Tales From Northumberland with Robson Green

Champagne and chocolates at The Bondgate Boutique

Romantic Winter Midweek Give-Away

A bottle of Champagne awaits your arrival.

A minimum booking of a 3 nights stay is required. To include a (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays, Thursday) in either Superior Rooms 6 or 7. You must be celebrating either a Birthday, Anniversary or an Engagement to at least qualify for a *free bottle of Champagne. Offer open between October 2015 till April 2015.

*T&C apply. Please read our Terms & Conditions regarding our fantastic offer.

simple minds,

BREAKING NEWS: Simple Minds to play Alnwick in concerts double-bill

The summer concerts in the Pastures at Alnwick Castle are back this year with a vengeance.

After the huge success of previous concerts starring Jools Holland, Status Quo, 10cc and Jessie J among others, a double bill has been announced for August

The Scottish rock band Simple Minds will perform on Saturday, August 16, followed by a rousing, patriotic concert, complete with Spitfire flypast, is planned for the following night.
The group has had a string of Top 20 UK singles, including Don’t You (Forget About Me), which reached Number One in the US charts.

With more than 35 years of performing behind them, as well as three Number One successes on the UK album chart, Simple Minds continue to tour regularly.

Date: Saturday, August 16
Venue: The Pastures, Alnwick Castle.
TICKETs: Adult £35, child (ages 5-16) £20, group rates apply.
Online: www.kalmusic.co.uk or www.alnwickplayhouse.co.uk