Lately, I've been doing a lot of day-dreaming about my next European trip. It's probably on my mind more these days, just knowing that we can't travel there. I've definitely been reminiscing about some of my favorite European cities. It occurred to me that for first time travelers to Europe, there are many differences in American and European hotels. Even if you stay in an American chain hotel (which I suggest you don't!) you will notice a few differences.
One of the main differences between European and American hotels is the size of the rooms. The first time I stayed in a European hotel, I was shocked that the room barely had enough space to hold the bed and a dresser. This is perfectly normal and expected. Of course, hotels vary, but for the most part, European rooms are much smaller.
Bed options are another difference you will find. The majority of American hotels offer similar bed options: a king, queen, two twins, and maybe a double bed. If you want a room for four people, you get one with two double beds. In Europe, it's different. For one thing, king size beds are not as popular. I personally have never seen one there. Instead, a large bed is usually two beds pushed together. Also, European hotel rooms almost always use a futon or a pull-out couch as a second or third bed.
Elevators are often very different as well. Many European hotels don't have elevators at all and at those that do, you will find the elevators much smaller and more narrow. I've stayed in hotels that had such small elevators I could barely fit in there with my luggage.
European bathrooms are the most different of all. At most European hotels, you'll probably find that the bathroom shower features a handheld nozzle. Because of the handheld option, it's probably going to take you a few minutes to figure out how to work the shower head. I have seen some I couldn't figure out at all! While we're in the bathroom, there are two more quirks you'll find. One is washcloths. Very few hotels in Europe use them. So if you're like me and have to have one, you will need to pack your own. Another thing that is interesting is that most European hotels don't have shower curtains. They usually have glass doors, and many times the shower door will be only a half door. Don't be surprised when you find a bidet and a towel warming rack in your bathroom also.
You probably already know that before traveling to Europe you'll need to buy converters for the outlets. You may not know that European outlets are also more powerful, so be careful. Even if you're using a converter, you shouldn't use an American hair dryer, steamer, or curling iron. They will almost always blow a fuse or break entirely (trust me, I know from experience). The outlets are also placed differently. Many of the hotel rooms I've been in throughout Europe don't have an outlet right next to the bed or in the bathroom.
Here's another thing that sometimes throws American guests: having to surrender your passport upon arrival. Don't be alarmed- it's for your safety that they do so. They may give it right back to you, but more often they will tell you the passport will be returned later.
Finally, after your porter opens up your room, he will immediately place your room key (if they use the card system) in a slot in the wall. This governs the electricity in your room or suite. The minute you remove your key, the lights go out. It's a great energy saving idea, but we Americans often forget about it, especially at bedtime. When you turn out the lights by pulling out the key, the electrical devices you need to charge won't have any charging ability!
I hope when you travel, you will get excited about the little quirks. Embrace the differences that you find, because it's part of the fun of being on vacation somewhere different.