Let's say it's the last minute and you still have nothing reserved for your summer holiday in Croatia. Every place you call is booked and you're starting to panic. Don't. Take a deep breath and do the following:
Adorable little six-room boutique hotels that are in every guidebook? Forget it. Long ago booked out. Don't waste your time.
Instead bigger is better. In Croatia, that means staying in three-star hotels which are very often older hotels with hundreds of rooms. Not cute but you might find a space. More.
Do you really have to stay in Dubrovnik? If it's July and you have nothing booked, the answer is NO.
Instead hunt for spare rooms in one of the villages around Dubrovnik. More.
Use booking agencies for rooms and apartments
Forget about tracking down the perfect little gem from a dozen internet sites.
Instead try agencies with a large inventory of rooms and apartments like like booking.com. See more on private accommodation in Croatia.
Head inland for on-the-spot accommodation
Do you really need to smell the sea air? The coast and islands fill to bursting.
Instead head to the interior. Drive 30 minutes inland and you'll have a much better chance. In the Istrian interior, for example, you can be amid the rolling hills and close enough to the coast to spend the day at the beach. See more on where to go in Istria.
Just show up
But: Do not, under any circumstances, take a ferry to a Croatian island in mid-summer without a room booked. It is possible to find every single bed taken and no ferry out.
Instead rent a car and drive the coastal road looking for a sobe (rooms) sign. Hint: head towards the northern coast for a better chance at finding vacancies. See more on private accommodation in Croatia.
Try the tourist office
You could just see who approaches you with an offer of rooms but there are risks (see tips on on the spot accommodation).
Instead head straight to the tourist office. In some localities they will put you in direct contact with reputable owners. If not, they will send you to local booking agencies.