So, you've booked your flights and are all ready to start booking your accommodation for your European holiday. You've seen some amazing looking hotels and apartments in travel brochures and online. You've read the descriptions and everything sounds perfect - but is there something about this acommodation that you haven't considered?
We've all been guilty of finding the 'perfect' place to stay online or in a brochure and whilst it may tick all your boxes, there are a few things that we often forget to consider amongst the excitement of booking. Location, facilities and price are almost always things we consider without fail, but here are my top 6 'other' things to be aware of:
One of the delights of holidaying in Europe is the history and architecture and many hotels, apartments and holiday homes are housed in buildings that are hundreds of years old. They are also predominently multi-storey and often don't have lifts (elevators). This is something you should definitely take into consideration if you are travelling with small children, have difficulty climbing stairs, or are travelling with suitcases. There's no fun in staying on the fifth floor with amazing views from your room if you have to lug your suitcase up five flights of stairs to get to it. Hotels and apartment buildings that do have lifts often have very small ones. You and your suitcase might fit in but your friend and his suitcase will have to wait for the next ride! You should also keep in mind that the safety standards of certain things in Europe are not as stringent as they are in Australia. This is true of staircases which are often narrow and winding with no hand rails (and no safety gates for young children) in place.
2. Air conditioning
For much of the year, air conditioning won't even be a consideration when travelling in Europe but if you're visiting the southern countries or countries along the Mediterranean in late July or August, temperatures can rise into the mid to high 30s (Celcius). In countries like Croatia, air-conditioning is quite rare, even in hotels, and given the nature of the buildings (often made of stone and built very close to the next building), they can absorb heat very quickly. Keep this in mind if you plan on travelling to the southern part of Europe.
If you're travelling as a couple, privacy in your hotel room or apartment is not going to be a big issue, but if you're travelling with children and/or other family members or friends, it may well be. If you are booking accommodation with separate bedrooms, make sure the bedrooms can actually be closed off. Some apartments have one of the bedrooms on a 'mezzanine' level which may look down over the living area, others might have a bathroom that is only accessible by walking through a bedroom. If you find out in advance what the layout of the accommodation is, there will be no nasty surprises when you arrive.
4. Convenience for transport and parking
You've probably chosen your accommodation with a thought to the things you'd like to do in the town. Often being 'central' is the reason for choosing a hotel or apartment but being next door to the town's most popular nightclub could make being 'in the heart of the action' a bad decision! You'll want to be within easy access of public transport and within easy walking distance to supermarkets, bakeries, cafes and restaurants so make sure your hotel isn't along the nightclub strip or in an upcoming re-developed area that doesn't have these facilities. If you are planning on driving in Europe, make sure your accommodation provides parking and that the street in which you're staying isn't a pedestrian-only street.
5. Swimming pools
This is really only a consideration if you're travelling with small children, but again, safety standards are not always the same in Europe as in Australia. Pool fencing doesn't appear to be a requirement in much of Europe and in Italy, for example, where many villas have pools, this can be a concern for parents with young children.
6. Double beds
I've written previously about double beds in many European hotels. Traditionally, hotels provide two large single beds(usually king singles) pushed together with a 'double' sheet joining the two together, or two single mattresses on a double base. More often than not when this is the case, two 'single' doonas will be provided rather than a double or queen size doona. If you specifically require a double bed, it's best to check directly with the hotel or accommodation owner to confirm they have noted your request and can meet it.
By choosing your accommodation wisely, you can ensure there are no hidden surprises when you arrive. Don't be afraid to check with your travel agent or contact the hotel, apartment or holiday house owner directly to clarify the situation and satisfy yourself that the accommodation is suitable for your travelling party. You'll never be able to forecast every little unique aspect of travelling in Europe but embracing the differences (as long as your health and safety aren't put at risk) are part of the enjoyment of travelling in other countries.
Have you had any accommodation 'surprises' in your travels in Europe? Please tell me about them in the comments below.