|by Valerie Rains||Helpful Websites||199|
Surprises are great—sometimes. But when it comes to booking the best room in a hotel or making a beeline for a beloved landmark, taking a virtual-tour test-run can be a savvy traveler’s best strategy. Here are three new ways to get a sneak peek of your next trip.
For hotel rooms
Using Google Earth images, detailed floor plans, and insider tips from the hotels’ own front-desk staffs, room 77 pinpoints the nicest rooms in thousands of three- to five-star properties across 30-plus cities in North America, Europe, and Asia. Travelers can search for connecting rooms, distance from elevators, a great view, and upper or lower floors, then scan the rooms the site deems a match. Talking your way into getting the precise room you want, however, is up to you. room77.com, free.
Many top museums have created apps that display highlights from their collections. But for one-stop browsing, tap into the Web-based Google Art Project, a compendium of virtual, self-guided walks through 17 museums, including New York’s MoMA, London’s National Gallery, Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, and more. Travelers can digitally navigate through each institution and get super-zoomed-in views of featured artworks—without elbowing anyone aside. googleartproject.com, free.
For walking tours
Nothing’s going to replace a passing whiff of a corner patisserie or the goosebumps you get when you approach Sacré Coeur. But the interactive maps and over 4,000 images packed into Fotopedia’s Paris app will have you feeling like you’re strolling along the Seine in no time. Not much of a Francophile? Fotopedia also makes a National Park app and hosts a growing collection of over 750,000 user-submitted images of destinations worldwide, searchable by place names, themes, and key words. fotopedia.com, free.
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