Since I’ve been in Germany three times in the past 18 months (how is that even possible??) I’ve stayed in loads of hotels. Everything from the simple family run, to the American chain, and even a fabulous 4 Star hotel, so I feel qualified to pass along some advice about Hotels in Germany. Now I’m sure a lot of you are wondering, “it’s a hotel room… what could she possibly say that we don’t already know?”. Work with me here, there are a few things that might surprise some of you (or irritate some of you) and I thought it best to give you a head’s up BEFORE you go.
Hotels in Germany-
Please Note! These tips are not meant to frighten you, or be a knock on hotels in Germany! I loved all the places I stayed. They are just my way of letting you know what you might expect… and preparing you for any unexpected differences.
1. Twin Beds. Yes, you read that right. It’s quite common to have twin beds in the rooms. If it’s a double bed, the twin mattresses could just be pushed together (don’t bother asking for a King Sized bed). This means that there is a gap between the beds. A running joke on our trip was “mind the gap”! Because someone was always falling in. (Mostly me).
2. Twin Beds again. It is not entirely uncommon to find ACTUAL Twin Beds in the Hotel Room. (You should have seen my guy’s face…. ) If you want something bigger than your childhood bed, double check when you make your reservation. (“Getrennt” means that the beds are separated)
This was an interesting surprise….
3. Individual comforters. I suppose I should start with letting you know that the standard American system of bottom sheet, top sheet, blanket and comforter is not so standard in Germany. There, everyone is issued a single comforter wrapped in a Duvet cover. On the plus side, you don’t have to share your blanket… on the down side, if you fall into the gap, you might get cold as well as stuck.
4. No Top Sheet. In #2 I described the individual comforter thing. The problem with that is, when it gets hot, your only cover is a comforter. And in the past few summers it has gotten HOT! This can be a problem. You are either under a comforter or under nothing, so you spend the whole night fighting with the comforter.. and might end up stuck in the gap. If you are worried, pack a sheet into your luggage (I suppose you could take the duvet cover off of the comforter and use it, but I imagine housekeeping would lose their mind… and you won’t get your nightly gummi bears)
5. Gummi Bears. Some hotels might leave you a little package of Gummi Bears … or better yet… Gummi SHEEP instead of chocolate on your pillow. Bliss.
The rare “double comforter”… look how happy he is!
6. Elevators don’t always go all the way to your floor. In America, when you are on the second or third floor, you just hop into the elevator with your bags, you are whisked up, and then you roll out to your room. No problem… no schlepping heavy luggage. Not necessarily so in Germany. Sure, there might be an elevator… but for some reason, 3 of the hotels I was in last month had an additional 5 or 6 or 10 stairs to manage. Bad enough with a suitcase, extra tricky for someone in a wheelchair. Double check when you make a reservation if this is an issue!
7. Some older hotels don’t have elevators at all. Hotels in the Altstadt of most cities pre-date the need for elevators. (Clearly, everyone used to be in much better shape). In one place, I took a look at the three flights we had to go up, and left the suitcase in the car. I packed what I needed into a shopping bag and carried my “stuff for overnight” up…. sort of low rent, but there was NO WAY I was going to throw my back out (I may have bought too many books as souvenirs… Note to self… books as souvenirs are HEAVY)
8. Dangerous Showers. Some hotel rooms have a shower/bath combo, with only a half glass door on one end of the bathtub to keep the bathroom dry. The way I see it, there are several ways things can go horribly wrong. You could slip stepping in, or worse, the half door doesn’t really protect the bathroom floor, so you accidentally soak the bathroom and slip getting out. Put that bath mat down! (And have someone nearby to answer your distress call.)
Half Shower Door… No handles…
9. Complex Shower Handles. Frankly, this is not just a German thing… can someone please explain to me why I need a Phd. in Engineering to work a simple shower? Does it have to be that hard to increase or decrease the temperature? (Of course, some showers make it easy… they are so small that every time you turn around you hit the handle and scald yourself….)
10. Shower Gel. In effort to reduce single use plastics, hotels no longer offer little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. Also, little bars of soap are gone. While that is admirable, they were all replaced by a “universal” substance that is supposed to do all of those things….yet somehow, it doesn’t do any of them. Plus it’s in a wall mounted squeeze tube that functions differently in every shower (despite being the same squeeze tube bottle). Maybe just pack your own.
12. Towels. Don’t expect big fluffy bath sheets in Germany. The towels tend to be much simpler (and a bit rough). Another “green” effort from hotels is to only change towels when they are on the floor (there will be a sign on the wall). Now, my mother trained me NOT to leave my towels lying around on the floor. So, I left them over the edge of the bathtub. Guess who didn’t get fresh towels. (Sorry mom).
13. Anemic Hair Dryers. I’ve been in 4 Star Hotels, and simple Vacation Rentals… they all have the same hair dryer that just puffs warm air at you. If this is an issue, bring yours from home, and pack your power converter (let me know if you blow the hotel fuses).
14. Electricity in the Rooms. When you first enter your hotel room and switch on the light, you might notice that it doesn’t work. Don’t panic. (And don’t call the front desk… you will bump your toe on the bed in the dark getting to the phone). In another effort to go “green”, you need to activate the electricity in your room. Sometimes, it’s a simple switch. Other times, it’s a card slot… just stick your key in the receptacle on the wall, and “zimzalabim!!” Electricity.
15. Bypassing the Electrical Shut Down. Now again, this summer it was extraordinarily HOT. And while I originally thought it was hysterical that our hotel had air conditioning (hahaha… who needs AC in GERMANY!) boy was I glad it did. BUT… no power in the room while you are gone means no AC… which means coming back to a blazing hot room. You CAN bypass this problem by sticking a different card into the slot (For obvious reasons, don’t use your Visa Card…a library card or Costco card works nicely).
14. Bathroom Light Switch. I’m not altogether sure why, but the light switch for the bathroom is often on the OUTSIDE of the bathroom. (As a child, I imagine I could have caused all sorts of mayhem for my sister with this).
15. Parking lots aren’t a Guarantee of a Parking Space. Most of the hotels I stayed in said that there was parking available. Here’s the thing. It doesn’t mean that everyone with a car gets one. One hotel had 7 spaces for 30 rooms…. Another had parking, but it was 3 blocks away. Either way, be prepared to pay extra for parking, if you get it. And if it’s an underground parking garage, be prepared for a tight squeeze (read my Tips For Driving in Germany HERE)
16. Breakfast is not Always Included. Sigh… the death of the automatically included breakfast is the worst news possible. You can still get breakfast at the hotels, and generally it’s quite a good one, but new regulations state that it must be a separate line-item on the bill. (My cousin who owns a hotel tried to explain it to me, but there are layers of bureaucracy and taxes involved, so I zoned out). If you want the breakfast, be sure to let them know.
18. Breakfast Room. Most hotels DO serve breakfast, and there is a special room for that. Find out what floor it’s on, because it’s not always on the Ground floor (and remember… Ground Floor is E, 2nd floor is the first floor… for more tips–>Tips for travel in Germany)
17. Tourist Tax. Hotels are now charging their guests a city tourist tax. It’s only a few Euros… but they will ask you for it upon check-in (or check-out) even if you have pre-paid your hotel room. This only applies to visitors who are not traveling on business!
Again… these tips are not meant to be a complaint, or a Woe is Me! They are a reminder that different countries have different ways of doing things. So, instead of showing up and saying AARRRGGGHHHH!!! Know what’s coming up, and adjust ahead of time.