We have lived here so long, we sometimes forget some of the fascinating differences of European life. Today, we’ll examine the European hotel room.
In Switzerland, most hotels that we stay in are owned by families instead of corporations. It makes for an endearing special stay and you know you are supporting local business.
Some of the differences:
Check in and Check out times – they are usually posted and you need to arrive and depart in these parameters or otherwise, the desk might not be staffed.
Payment – usually always after your stay. They don’t usually ask for any credit card or ID up front. The Swiss are very trusting.
Language – don’t be surprised if they don’t speak English. But they are friendly and always willing to help. Usually its straightforward. Get key. Return key. Pay.
However, our biggest challenge was in Verbier where we had to understand door codes, access times, etc and I was glad for my French lessons then. Especially when we couldn’t figure it out and had to ask the reception lady to come give us a demonstration.
Beds – usually a double room has two twin beds pushed together with their own comforter. Gabe likes this as I am a cover-hog so he is ensured a comfortable sleep in a Swiss hotel.
Image courtesy of booked.net
Bathroom – don’t expect soap or shampoo. Be surprised to find both. Sometimes they combine hair/body getl in in a dispenser in the shower. So, look there before panicking.
One time, we stayed in a place that had no soap, shampoo or towels. I quickly learned to bring extra in the future, just in case.
I have not found conditioner yet. Bring your own if you have long hair!
Hairdryers are rare in Swiss hotel rooms. Check ahead if you require one.
Bath linens – you won’t get a washcloth. Europeans simply don’t use them. One of our friends who lives here says “if they want to play that game, I’m just going to wet the entire hand towel”. And so do we…..
Breakfast – most of the time included in the room rate, but not guaranteed. It is more likely that it is included in Switzerland than other areas of Europe.
Many small hotels will put your group name or room numbers on your reserved breakfast table. So, be sure to look for that when entering the breakfast area. It is their way of ensuring that the tables are used efficiently as they have limited space.
Typically they serve a buffet of cereals, yogurts, breads, cheeses and meats. Sometimes there are hard boiled eggs. And sometimes they have raw eggs and you have to boil them yourself.
One of my favorite discoveries is Birchermüesli. Its yogurt with granola and small fresh and dried fruits. It looks a little gross but it is one of my new preferred Swiss breakfast items.
Image courtesy of lookcook.net
They usually bring carafes of coffee and milk to your table. Also something to look forward to – they usually heat the milk that they serve. It is a nice perk.
Typically, you’ll find a small plastic bin on the table. It’s for trash – for your tiny scraps / papers. This has been interesting to our guests. Speaking of waste, it is more proper in Europe to take small portions of food at a time in a buffet type setting. It isn’t looked upon kindly if you leave tons of food on your plate like is common in the US.
Also, most breakfast rooms have signs indicating all food must be eaten in the dining area. So, it isn’t allowed to grab-and-go for later. I have been guilty of this in the US with taking a piece of fruit for a snack later. I feel like it isn’t as frowned upon back home as it is here.
Our most recent guests inquired why they don’t have pancakes, bacon and eggs like they do in America? Answer: It is just not their thing. We haven’t seen this type of breakfast since we left the States unless its in our own kitchen.
However, although slightly different, we hope you enjoy the Swiss hotel experience!
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/.