Not Budget Travel in The EU: Lodging

By wasatch | Jun 5, 2020
Europe

The average income of US tourists flying out of the country is $109,000 per year. Depending on family size, the Pew Research Center puts the start of an upper class income at $78,000-175,000. The typical American tourist is not a budget traveler, contrary to what you might think from all the budget travel advice on the Internet. If you are not excited by the prospect of having to wash out one of your allowed two pairs of underwear in your Rick Steves' backpack in the bathroom sink at the gang toilet down the hall in a noisy hostel every night, read on.

There is no good way to organize this, so its going to be a collection of observations on EU hotels.

A Room with a View

A room with a good view is likely to cost extra, but maybe not. We took the most expensive ($320 for one night) room in a condo hotel in the Austrian Alps so we would have good views of the mountains-- a corner room with two balconies, each facing mountains from two different sides of the building. There were three bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room with TV and a DVD collection. The price included room, dinner for two with a bottle of wine, and a hearty breakfast for two.

Falknerhof's room's view

Falknerhof's room's view

Our room in Rothenburg o.d.T. was in an ancient building that was also part of the city wall (our room was the entire top floor). the view out our window included part of the city, the wall, and the Tauber Valley below..

A Quiet Room

A quiet room is one of my essential requirements. Telling the desk you want quiet usually works, but, if you are making reservations from home before departing, contact the hotel directly to ask for quiet. Do not try to do it through Hotels.com, Expedia etc. Many EU hotels are built as a hollow square. "Courtyard" rooms face the interior hollow, not the noisy street, and are usually a safe bet for quiet. The Michelin Guide designates some hotels with a bird symbol. A black bird means in quiet location, a red bird designates a very quiet location, like in the middle of a vineyard miles from the nearest road.

Climate change plays a big role in determining quiet hotel rooms. I don't know if its by law or by custom, but a lot of EU hotels won't turn on the AC until a certain date is reached, regardless of the temperature. This can leave you with the choice but to roast in your room with the widows closed or open the widow and get all the street noise, and not all that much cooling. The same problem can occur in reverse near the start of winter-- cold weather, no heat.

Pillows

You need a compatible pillow fro a good night's sleep. Lots of luck. The Molino Hilton in Venice sort of solved this problem by putting 6 pillows on the bed, two each of three different pillows. I did find a decent combination.

I prefer a memory foam contour pillow. Some hotels offer these as options, Ask at the desk if you have a pillow preference. That did work at least once to get a pillew and you won't get this option in a bidget hotel.

A Dark Room

Night is supposed to be dark. I never accept a room without first looking at it, and I make a point of checking the widow curtains. Look for three layers of curtains, 1] something like cheesecloth that lets in a lot of light but preserves your modesty from exterior peeping toms if you are naked . 2] Floor to ceiling, wall to wall darkening ( really thick plastic) curtains. 3] something pretty so you don't have too look at the room darkening curtains.

Falknerhaf

Falknerhaf

We always carry a number of clothes line pins because the room darkening curtains generally leave a gap where they come together in the middle of the window. The clothes pins close the gap. We also always carry about 120 sq feet of light weight thin black plastic which we can use the clothes pins to add an additional layer of room darkening curtains to a bad job by the hotel.

Many hotels in the Austrian Alps-- great buys at the ski resorts in the summer-- than have a 20th C version of window shutters. These are something like Venetian blinds only they are on the exterior and consists of metal tubes that cover the widow exterior when lowered. Makes it very dark because light does not penetrate two layers of metal. These shutter also help eliminate exterior noise from reaching your bed.

Austria

Austria

Breakfast at Your Hotel

Options:

  • 1] None
  • 2] Continental. Ugh. Awful.
  • 3] Continental buffet: a limited selection of cereal, fruit, breads, maybe an egg or two
  • 4] American or British buffet. The jackpot. We often skip lunch after one of these.

Options to hotel breakfasts;

  • 1] Lots of places in the neighborhood will offer local style breakfasts (usually less expensive and expansive than a full blown hotel breakfast buffet.
  • 2] Tarts or pastries at a pastry shop or bakery.

Space

With its greater population density and inherent in history, both public and private spaces in the EU are smaller than what Americans are used to. I've seen houses in America with larger bathrooms than some EU hotel rooms are. At Capo d'Africa, our favorite hotel in Rome, Italy, the standard room is typical tiny EU hotel space. We booked a larger "superior" room which was spacious even by American standards.

The Bath Room

Most rooms come with shower only. Our $800 a night four room suite in Istanbul had a bath tub and separate shower and a separate half bath just off the living room. Bidets are standard equipment. Toilets rarely flush with a tank mounted handle like American toilets have. Toilets rarely have tanks. Most toilets have two levels of flushing, a smaller dose of water or bigger dose of water. Typically there is a panel mounted in the wall above the toilet about at chest level. There is a big circle of metal with a smaller circle inside it-- push the big circle for a big flush, etc.

Chair

The four room suite in Istanbul included there arm chairs, two desk/vanity chairs, and a three seat couch. The cabin in a self proclaimed ****** Vantage river cruise ship had only a small vanity/desk chair. There was no conformable way to read in this room.

Lighting

If you like to read a little in your room during rest breaks, you need decent lighting. You won't always get it, and I don't know how to assure it except that its more certain with spending more money. Electricity is very expensive in the EU compared to the USA, so lighting is limited to what' necessary. This includes hotel corridors with motion detector lights so the lights are only on when the hallway is in use.

Luxury Accommodation

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Written by wasatch
1st international trip: 1965. ~57 EU vacations. Visited 6 continets. Extensive USA travel. You can email me at kb1942@yahoo.com

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