If you are using a book of travel guides, it will contain hotel recommendations. Most of them contain reviews, including priced or at least priced categories for each one. Many will be available online.
Some of the smaller, independently owned hotels are still making the reservation themselves. Most of them can be answered by email, but some are a little older and only by phone. If so, do not think you're calling internationally and telling someone that English does not have to be your first language to intimidate you. These are the entrepreneurs who give livelihood to the tourist sites that you guess, probably do not have their mother tongue. Everyone speaks English enough to make a reservation!
Check out your route and start booking these hotels for each location. In general, you would like to reserve at least 2-3 months earlier, just to make sure that you are able to get exactly the hotel you want. If you are traveling during the high season, you may want to start sometime sooner. Most hotels require a credit card reservation, but most allow you to pay in cash on arrival.
After booking these hotels, write down the contact details (hotel name, address, phone number) and save your records. There is also an amazing website called Tripit that has a route creation tool that lets you manually enter this information or even has a feature you can send via confirmation emails (for hotels and even airline information) and it will do for you.
For my choice in the hotels I'm in the middle of the road here. I can not afford to stay in five star hotels, but I do not want to be uncomfortable with the unpleasant circumstances of the crowded youth hostel. I'd rather have the best of both worlds: experiencing the landscape, the people and the culture I've been immersed in while I'm not in the "sketch" of the accommodation. I rely on small, independent hotels, near the city center, but protected from areas that are suffocated by tourists.
Plus most of these self-owned small hotels are run by the owners themselves who are always more than happy to help their guests. They are one of the best travel advisors you will meet while you are there. They can tell you where the best places to eat, the easiest ways to navigate the city, even help you book reservations for museums and tours.