What to know before booking a hotel in Europe

By Fareboom Staff, Wed, Nov 18, 2015

For most of us, Europe has a reputation for luxury and good living, so surely even the most no-frills hotels there must be comfortable and what you’re expecting, right?  Actually, maybe not.  Here are some things to know before you book:


- Don’t get blinded by stars.  A high star rating may not mean a hotel has everything you’re looking for. All countries have different criteria for awarding or taking away stars.  Articles like this one can be helpful to read, but the best thing to do is to check guest reviews and the hotel’s website before booking.


- Don’t expect what you might consider basics.  In many other parts of the world (like the US, for example), even the cheapest motels have air conditioning and en-suite bathrooms (which, unlike some European bathrooms, include toilets).  Not so in Europe.  Here, even the most charming, well-reviewed hotels may not offer things like an elevator or private bathrooms.  Check the hotel’s website directly (if it has one), or call and ask. Which brings me to the next tip….


- Always ask. Even if a hotel’s official site lists certain room features, you never know what could be the actual situation on-site. Is that air conditioning up and running?  Is the pool is currently open? And is the bathroom (with toilet?) really en-suite, or is that only the case for certain rooms?  Don’t be afraid to email or call the hotel’s reception desk so you can get answers from someone who’s actually there. If you don’t speak the local language, don’t give up: Most hotel receptionists speak English, so at least give it a try.


- Be wary of wifi charges.  In Europe, as a general rule, the more expensive the hotel, the more expensive it is to use the internet.  Lots of budget and two- or three –star accommodations offer free wifi to their guests, but if you’re booking a luxury hotel, you’ll probably have to pay to get online.  The good news is, you may be able to find places nearby that will let you get online for free.  For example, here in Paris, lots of cafes complementary wifi, as do public libraries and parks.


- Think small.  From cars, to portions on your plate, things in Europe are usually smaller than they are in some other places, so be prepared: your hotel room will probably be on the tiny side, too.  Then again, you’re in Europe to explore and experience the culture.  As long as you have a safe, clean place to sleep and relax a little, is having a ton of space really that important?


Alysa Salzberg is a writer and trip planner.  She lives in Paris with an eccentric Frenchman, a baguette-stealing baby, and a dog-like cat. Besides them, she loves travel, books, and cookies. You can read about her adventures here, or feel free to stop by and check out her website.




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