We haven’t lived here in Germany for long so we really haven’t had many hotel experiences but I have gathered some pretty important notes from our past vacations that I will definitely be keeping in mind for our future stays. Most hotels here are really wonderful to be honest but they truly do things a bit differently than what we are accustomed to back “home”. For example, making sure they all have air conditioning listed as an accommodation is something that is very new to us.
So what else have I learned? First off, because we are a family of five, it’s very hard to find rooms here, especially on the cheap. The hotels we look for must have “family rooms” available because anything beyond four guests apparently requires additional space and additional beds (no sharing allowed). Often times, the hotels here would rather you purchase a second room simply due to the fact that we have one extra person too many. In the states, we would get the room with the two queen beds option and they would allow us to stay in the room with all of our kids in tow. That’s not really the case here. As a matter of fact, most hotels here don’t even have “queen” sized beds. They mostly have twins or double beds available so even if we tried to get into one of the rooms with double beds, we really don’t all fit.
We have found that using Airbnb is often a cheaper option for our large crew rather than booking a hotel. However, some Airbnb’s don’t offer one night stays and there’s also often large deposits and cleaning fees attached to them so it really puts us in a situation of carefully planning and calculating when we are trying to schedule a simple overnight weekend trip. Booking.com has become a go-to website to book large family rooms and small apartments.
Speaking of fees, there are almost always additional fees that most hotels charge that are due before or at checkout depending on their policy and these charges are not included in the original price. For instance, one of the fees that we see pretty often is called a “tourist tax” fee. I have seen this charge cost anywhere from 1 euro to 11 euros per person staying in the room. In addition to that, some of the hotels here do not include housekeeping (so you really have to check for this in the fine print). At these particular hotels, if you require housekeeping to come to your room at any moment during your stay, that means you’ll be charged additional fees. If your hotel does not include housekeeping, this also means that you should probably bring extra towels because if you need any more towels than what was provided in the room, you will have to pay additional fees per towel. These additional fees are generally paid separately in cash (euro) at the time of check out.
We have definitely learned to read over the fine print of each hotel we decide to book with and we have also learned to bring more supplies. Sometimes, wifi is offered at an additional fee as well and sometimes it is not offered at all so it’s important not to assume that wifi will always be available. As a matter of fact, our last hotel had no wifi options at all (and that was a Disney resort in Paris). The same goes with breakfast, it is often offered as an optional fee if they even offer it at all. Breakfast can range anywhere from 5 euro per person to 15 euro per person.
Another thing that came as a surprise to us was to learn that we should definitely ask for the rules of the pool. In some hotels, it is against the rules for men/boys to wear swim shorts. The rules generally state that they must wear speedos as to avoid certain health risks. I believe the idea behind this is that swim shorts look too much like regular shorts and so people are prone to wear swim shorts out in town all day long and jump into the pool with them on too and vice versa. Whereas, not too many people want to walk around in a speedo all day. Luckily for my boys, we have only used one pool area here in Germany and it allowed any type of swim gear.
One of the biggest shock factors for us though has been bathrooms that have windows for walls… aka, no privacy at all. For the most part, this hasn’t been true for the majority of the hotels we’ve stayed in, however, one of our stays provided us with the experience of full exposure. We’ve definitely learned to make sure bathrooms are listed in the accommodations section of the hotel websites as, “Private Bathroom”. Needless to say, there are some things we will just never get used to.