What You Need to Know about European Hotels
On the hunt for good-quality, affordable hotels in Europe? Or going all out on a luxurious stay in the heart of town? Whether you’re traveling modestly or lavishly, hotels in Europe tend to be different than hotels in North America. American travelers are often accustomed to large rooms, breakfast included, and a 24-hour concierge. Newcomers to Europe can be unpleasantly surprised by the variances in hotels and rooms on the continent.
Our agents select hotels carefully based on your preferences to ensure a comfortable and exceptional vacation. Willamette International Travel is a member of different hotel consortia and booking systems that are not available to the public and can offer some diverse accommodations at great prices.
Here are a few differences with European hotels you may notice:
Most European rooms are equipped with a bathroom, but these can be small, with only a sink or a toilet. Some might have shared bathrooms or shower outside in the hall, designated for all guests of the hotel or floor. Look for the term “ensuite”—this refers to a private bathroom attached to the room. Unless specifically stated, the bathroom may have a shower versus a bathtub.
2. Price and Rating
The European star system and their prices are based on facilities on offer (elevator, dining room, bar), not on quality of the room. A 2- or 3-star hotel could have equal or much better rooms than a 4-star because it lacks some of these facilities. You have to decide what is important to you before you book.
3. Space & Beds
European rooms are often smaller than what you might be used to—maybe the size of the walk-in closet back home, and they may or may not have modern plumbing and/or electricity. Hotels, especially those strategically located near the tourist hotspots, are often converted old buildings near a city center. Like their cities, European hotels may be tight, jam-packed, and may have been there for at least one if not many centuries. A historic building converted into a hotel may have carved out rooms with varying layouts and space. Rooms can be so small that it’s difficult to fit your entire luggage, or even get out of one side of the bed! But let’s not forget the charm of staying in a historic building that has stood for 500 years, with its original brick and wood throughout the hotel.
Many hotels, pensions, and hostels do not include breakfast in their room rates. That said, they will likely offer breakfast for a price in an on-site café or restaurant, and some will be buffet style. Be aware that many of these may cost an arm and a leg! Some travelers prefer to head to a neighborhood café or bar to enjoy breakfast and watch the local traffic go by. Read the fine print before you book as to what’s exactly included in your purchase. If you purchase through one of our consortia rather than direct, the hotel will typically include daily breakfast without the added expense.
5. Check in, Check out.
Hotel check in time is often 3pm, with check out by 10-11am. If you are arriving at odd times, contact the front desk beforehand. Coming in on an early flight? Even if your room isn’t ready, the front desk will usually store your luggage for you while you go out and enjoy a breakfast or explore. Hint: Even if you can get into your room before normal check in time, do not go to sleep. Stay up through your jet lag, wander the town and then have an early night—a quick way to get onto local time.
6. Train Station.
The neighborhood around most major train stations in most major cities tends to be a little run-down. The location is great if you have an early morning train, but keep in mind that the quality can often not be the best and likely be noisy.
7. It’s Actually a Castle.
Many European accommodations are converted buildings that can be memorable and fun. You can stay in monasteries, castles, alpine chalets, lakefront villas, former prisons, medieval manor houses, former choirboys’ dorms, former royal residences, boutique B&Bs, and country estates. Our agents can sleuth around and find you the best deals in historic European hotels.
Tip: Staying under budget? We can arrange some great deals. For that final night or two in Europe, how about splurging at a special accommodation we know about?
Our agents have booked hundreds of hotels around Europe and can recommend some of best in terms of quality, location, and affordability. We choose to have a selective, discerning eye when booking for our clients. Call us today 503.224.0180.