The rise of the Internet has revolutionised the way people find private accommodation on holiday. When I first moved to Dalmatia in 2002, much of the rental business was tourists arriving to a destination, driving around to select their area and preferred view, then walking round the neighbourhood and enquiring about availability on houses with the sign ‘Sobe’ (room) displayed.
Last year, less than ten people knocked on our door looking for somewhere to stay, and the rooms and apartments were already full – through Internet booking.
Split is booming, and the advice is – book early! With more and more people spending time in the city rather than simply going straight to the islands, it pays to book early to find the best accommodation. Lots of specialist booking agencies have emerged online, many offering direct booking, others through Booking.com.
Croatia has tightened up on the grey market of unregistered bookings, and inspections of unregistered properties are on the increase, so one should seek to stay in a registered apartment. This has led to a general decline of one of the most important parts of the Croatian accommodation scene – the ‘Sobe ladies’. They are still very much in evidence at the ferries and bus stations, offering rooms to new arrivals. While some of them offer great apartments in the close vicinity, one can also find oneself on a bus heading into the suburbs. For greater security, head to the tourist offices if looking for somewhere on the spot. Be aware that there is normally a 30% surcharge for stays of less than three days, particularly in peak season, and several places will only take week-long bookings from Saturday to Saturday.
Another option to consider is Couchsurfing, a free accommodation service for participating people wanting to collect and integrate the global community. Split has a large number of Couchsurfers, many of whom are willing to host travellers, others to meet them for a coffee and show them round the city. www.couchsurfing.org