Dallas has few diversions other than eating, drinking and shopping.....and shopping does not interest us.
So we spend our time hopping from restaurant to restaurant and to every pub that we can find in search of the perfect meal and the perfect beer.

We randomly review restaurants and bars, dishes and beers at whim and give our brutally honest opinions of our findings. And while we concentrate on Dallas, we travel far and wide to sample cuisine from all regions of the country and beyond.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Oktoberfest Travels Part 3 - Finding a Hotel

Don't you love an opulent, spacious hotel room with a bathroom bigger than your garage?  Thick, overstuffed mattresses with piles of pillows of every shape and filling .... ahhhhh delightful ... well, you're not going to get that here.  At least not a a reasonable rate.  If you are one of those with the financial status that will allow you to stay in the George V in Paris then the odds are quite high that you are not reading this blog.  Now don't get me wrong, you can find American style hotels that are sterile and familiar, but why in the hell would you want to stay in one of those?

Most of the hotels that you find in Europe are older buildings with character that were constructed at a time when fat, pampered Americans were not so common.  En-suite bathrooms were also not common and most hotels found their guests sharing a bathroom with everyone else on their floor.  Indeed, you can still find hotels using that setup.  To accommodate modern travelers that demand a bit more privacy, bathrooms have been added to the hotel rooms which cut into the available space of the guest rooms.  This has led to smaller rooms and some very interesting bathroom layouts.

Now to the average spoiled American traveler, the challenge of having to figure out how to wash in a shower the size of a dishwasher is intolerable.  You will find much pissing and moaning by self-indulgent travelers whose arrogance demands that everything be just as it is at home.  These are the same ninnies who don't bother to learn the language of the country that they are visiting and think that yelling a question at a waiter in English will help them better understand what they are asking.  Instead, think of your journey as an adventure.  So you get water all over the bathroom floor .... so what?  So the shower curtain sticks to your ass when you try to bend over to wash your feet ... so what?  It will make for good stories when you return home.  If, however, you need a large, predictable bathroom in your travels, may I suggest Chicago?  In order to accommodate the addition of a bathroom into each room, space within the room had to be given, thus you will also find many hotel rooms quite small.  You're only going to sleep there right?  So why do you need a huge room?

You will often here American ask "how many stars" does a hotel have in order to determine how nice the rooms are.  Here is a secret .... the star system in the rest of the world means something completely different than it does here in the U.S.  Actually, the star system in the U.S. has no meaning whatsoever.  There are no rules governing how many stars are 'awarded' to a hotel.  They are arbitrarily determined by visitors or private ratings agencies and there is nothing to keep a fleabag hotel from calling itself "4 star".  In Europe, the star system actually has been defined, but not as a measure of opulence, but as a measure of services provided by the hotel.  The German Hotel and and Restaurant Association has defined the German classifications as:
* Tourist
** Standard
*** Comfort
**** First Class
***** Luxury
The mark "Superior" is used to flag extras beyond the minimum defined as beyond the minimum but not enough to take it to the next level.  The services required to attain these standards are as follows:
HotelstarExcerpt of the catalogue of criteria
  • 100% of the rooms with shower/WC or bath tub/WC
  • Daily room cleaning
  • 100% of the rooms with colour-TV together with remote control
  • Table and chair
  • Soap or body wash
  • Reception service
  • Facsimile at the reception
  • Publicly available telephone for guests
  • Extended breakfast
  • Beverage offer in the hotel
  • Deposit possibility
\bigstar \mathbf SSuperior TouristThe Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The bathroom facilities are usually at the same level as for two stars hotels but built from cheaper materials. The cost for regular inspection by independent associations is waived as well.
\bigstar\bigstarStandardIn addition to the single star (*) hotels:
  • Breakfast buffet
  • Reading light next to the bed
  • Bath essence or shower gel
  • Bath towels
  • Linen shelves
  • Offer of sanitary products (e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving kit)
  • Credit Cards
\bigstar\bigstar \mathbf SSuperior StandardThe Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The Standard-Superior does usually offer the same service level as three-star hotels but the interiors of the hotel are smaller and cheaper so that the three stars were not to be awarded by the inspection body. A two-star superior does not require mystery guesting.
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstarComfortIn addition to the standard star (**) hotels:
  • Reception opened 14 hours, accessible by phone 24 hours from inside and outside, bilingual staff (e.g. German/English)
  • Three piece suite at the reception, luggage service
  • Beverage offer in the room
  • Telephone in the room
  • Internet access in the room or in the public area
  • Heating facility in the bathroom, hair-dryer, cleansing tissue
  • Dressing mirror, place to put the luggage/suitcase
  • Sewing kit, shoe polish utensils, laundry and ironing service
  • Additional pillow and additional blanket on demand
  • Systematic complaint management system
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar \mathbf SSuperior ComfortThe Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The accommodation facilities for a superior hotel need to be on a modern level and fully renovated which is checked regularly.
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstarFirst ClassIn addition to the comfort star (***) hotels:
  • Reception opened 18 hours, accessible by phone 24 hours from inside and outside
  • Lobby with seats and beverage service
  • Breakfast buffet or breakfast menu card via room service
  • Minibar or 24 hours beverages via room service
  • Upholstered chair/couch with side table
  • Bath robe and slippers on demand
  • Cosmetic products (e.g. shower cap, nail file, cotton swabs), vanity mirror, tray of a large scale in the bathroom
  • Internet access and internet terminal
  • "À la carte"-restaurant
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar \mathbf SFirst Class SuperiorThe Superior flag is provided when the first class hotel has a proven high quality not only in the rooms. The superior hotels provide for additional facilities in the hotel like a sauna or a workout room. The quality is checked regularly by mystery guesting of an external inspection service.
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstarLuxuryIn addition to the first class (****) hotels:
  • Reception opened 24 hours, multilingual staff
  • Doorman-service or valet parking
  • Concierge, page boy
  • Spacious reception hall with several seats and beverage service
  • Personalized greeting for each guest with fresh flowers or a present in the room
  • Minibar and food and beverage offer via room service during 24 hours
  • Personal care products in flacons
  • Internet-PC in the room
  • Safe in the room
  • Ironing service (return within 1 hour), shoe polish service
  • Turndown service in the evening
  • Mystery guesting
\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar \mathbf SSuperior LuxuryThe Luxury star hotels need to attain high expectations of an international guest service. The Superior Luxury star is only awarded with a system of intensive guest care.

*courtesy of Wikipedia

Yeah, not what you thought, right?  But again, that doesn't mean that you will not get a crappy room in a 4-star hotel or that you cannot get a wonderful room in a 1-star hotel. You  really must do some research to find the right room.  
* If you want to go old school and share a bathroom with your fellow travelers (and usually save a bunch of money) look for a hotel with no stars .... and yes, they are quite common.  

Where do I look to find a hotel room?  Good question, Bubbette.  
Here is a list of hotel search websites that have led to much aggravation by screwing up my bookings in the past:
- Travelocity
-  Expedia

Here is the list of hotel search websites that has not screwed up my bookings:

So, who do reserve through?  THE HOTEL
Here are the two sites that I use to find hotels in Europe ... then I go to the hotel website and book my room through them.
Be sure that you confirm your reservation a few weeks before you go.

Remember folks, just as here at home, you get what you pay for.  You want a nice room?  Spend the money to get one.  -Cheers. Bon

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