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The Quirks of the European Hotel Room: What You Need To Know

This blog post was updated on May 1, 2020.

I once booked a hostel/hotel in Barcelona, advertising a shower in my room. I thought that meant I would have my own bathroom.


Little did I know, there literally was just a clear open shower in the middle of my room. Europeans have a flavor for creating quirks in hotels, to say the least.


Europe novices tend to be shocked by the continent upon entering their first hotel room. In this fine land, from Madrid to Rome, you will find many accommodations in the most medieval of structures.


Wise beyond her years, Europe also packs a few quirks when it comes to these places to rest your head.


If you aren’t prepared, you may find yourself that ugly tourist, complaining to the front desk about the size of the room. Avoid the nasty impressions and get ready for a cultural lesson in the European hotel room.


Small, smaller and smallest: Americans are generally the most shocked when they arrive to a European country and find the room to be the size of their walk-in closet back home. Get used to calling your accommodations cozy, rather than another word that beings with a C. Most Europeans live in tight, jam-packed cities, laid out for the ancients, not for those in search of extra space. When you book a hotel room, know that it might be the size of a closet with the price tag of a luxury villa.


Half-Door Showers: In some cases, your European hotel room may come equipped with a shower/tub. It might also have a very strange door, almost like they forgot to finish it so that water doesn’t go everywhere. Usually found in Ireland and the UK, these showers defy all logic. If you spot your hotel room has one, just take caution that your will have a flood on your floor after getting out of the shower.


Twin Beds Pushed Together as a Double: If you are booking a room that advertises a double bed, chances are you will be put in a room with two twin beds pushed together. For couples this can be comical as rolling into the middle of the bed presents the problem of maybe falling through to the floor. To avoid this disaster, confirm with your hotel exactly what sort of sleeping arrangements you want.


Early Check-Out Times and Late Check-Ins: When you pay for a night in hotel room, you might expect to get your money’s worth time-wise. Many travelers expect to allowed to check in by the afternoon and check out as late as 1PM. However in Europe, that is seldom the case, especially with hostels. Be sure to read the fine print on your hotel before booking to see when these times may be. Sometimes the price is not worth it when the hotel won’t let you check-in until 6PM and wants you out by 9AM.


Sometimes No Sheets and Paper Thin Towels: In Germany, you will often find your hotel room features a comforter folded in a strange sandwich-like construction, with no sheets. This can be the case in some parts of Europe, where the hotel believes down comforters can solely keep you warm. Those fluffy towels you might envision will be nowhere in sight in Europe. Bath towels can seem more like dish rages. “Just dry off and get dressed” seems to be the motto around this continent.


CC Flickr photo credit: Yortw

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