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:
**** First Class
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:
|Hotelstar||Excerpt of the catalogue of criteria|
|Superior Tourist||The 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.|
|Standard||In addition to the single star (*) hotels:|
|Superior Standard||The 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.|
|Comfort||In addition to the standard star (**) hotels:|
|Superior Comfort||The 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.|
|First Class||In addition to the comfort star (***) hotels:|
|First Class Superior||The 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.|
|Luxury||In addition to the first class (****) hotels:|
|Superior Luxury||The 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:
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