As a rule, European hotel rooms suck. Sure there’s some swanky hotels in Berlin, Paris, London and for all I know Plovdiv, Bulgaria, but the ones I stay at for work tend to suck.
These days most of the European hotels I stay in are in Germany, but that wasn’t always the case. I used to travel far and wide on this continent and I can assure you all the hotels generally, as a rule it can be assumed, suck here.
My experience with European hotels can be summed up as follows: Room service is non-existent and when it comes to TV your English-language channels are limited to BBC, CNN international or some British sports channel that features an obscure international ostrich feather testicle tickling championship. There’s also the famed European late night TV programming.
Which, since the advent of the internet is about as sexy as a one-piece bathing suit circa the 1880s.
That’s not to say the rooms aren’t comfortable. Oh wait, I wrote that last sentence wrong, I meant to say they’re also not comfortable. Everything in my current room technically works, but it’s as if it were designed by idiots, madmen or sadists. Maybe it was designed by idiotic sadistic madmen?
I don’t know.
There’s a lamp at the desk where I’m writing this that is mounted to the wall and has a flexible base that you might bend over to shine directly on your keyboard while you type or on a book while you read. Useful stuff right? It would be, except the only thing holding the shade to the lamp itself is gravity. So if you bend the flexible base the lamp shade flops over, held on only by the bulb. It’s not a broken lamp technically, it was just designed by someone who doesn’t know what a flexible base is meant to do.
Look here’s a photo
OK, I hear you saying (because I have super, super good hearing), “It’s just one fucked up lamp, quit your bitching.” Well, I would quit my bitching and go to bed to read, except the two lamps on the night stands function the exact same way.
Still though, I’m alone in a hotel room and instead of critiquing the accommodations, I could spend my time leisurely reading in my spacious double bed. My room does have a spacious bed, but like many double beds in Germany, it’s actually two single beds shoved together because fuck hotel guests.
Actually, I think is might be a European thing and not a Germany-only thing. For reasons I can’t fathom, it seems that shoving two single mattresses together, in the European mindset, equals a double bed.
Let me assure you it does not equal a double bed. If you want to snuggle with your wife, your pillow, your significant other or the person whose name you hope to remember before tomorrow morning, you can’t. Someone is going to be uncomfortable because of the gaping canyon in the middle that exists when you shove two mattress together.
Why do I see this in hotel after hotel after hotel? What’s the point? Who does this? If any European reading this can give me an education on why this is a thing I’d greatly appreciate it.
Thankfully European hotel bathrooms totally rock. They’re warm, they’re functional, they come with hot and cold running strippers and yeah they don’t really rock at all.
I’ve talked about my wife’s strange aversion to buying new towels or throwing old ones away. When we have house guests, I have them sign a liability waiver before using our bathroom towels. I think I’ve said that if I ever used one of our towels to dry off a homeless dog I would apologize to the dog afterward. We have bad towels, thought no fault of my own, but compared to European hotel towels, they’re fluffy clouds of moisture-wicking love woven by angels.
This is because I think European hotel towels are woven from the tears of abused children and cacti. They don’t so much remove the moisture from your body as they frighten it away while simultaneously sandpapering off much of your skin. They are as good at absorbing moisture as cardboard and they have a similar feel and rigidity.
What the fuck? Are soft fluffy towels a closely guarded secret only shared among staff in American hotels? Are the these German hotels washing their guestroom towels in gasoline, lye and starch?
Then there are the showers. When I was traveling for work to the states frequently I noticed a lot of hotels had installed these rainfall shower heads. I don’t know why. I blame hipsters and Martha Stewart. I’m not sure why I think Martha was a part of this decision, but it’s the kind of thing I suspect she would approve of. I’m not sure the rainfall shower heads are any more effective than a traditional shower head, but at least they weren’t less effective and obviously people like them.
European hotels long ago took the opposite approach and never looked back. All European hotel shower heads (yes I’ve seen them all, it took me a while, but hey it’s an hobby) are connected to a hose that is connected to the wall. The shower heads can all be removed so that you can spray water directly onto whatever part of your body is the filthiest. For me, that’s the brain, my brain is the most filthy.
So with the knowledge that European shower nozzles are detachable, I always stand outside and reach into the shower timidly to turn it on. Here’s why. I don’t know what the fuck the shower head is going to do. The water pressure combined with the amount of hard-water deposits and a not-so-snug seat in the wall mount often result in the nozzle either rocketing off the holder or spinning in an unpredictable direction, shooting water out of the wall mount. The damned things turn left, they turn right they raise up or the blast down. There’s a greater than 70 percent chance that they will come alive and unsuspectingly blast me in the face.
Yes, I could reach up and remove the shower head, point the nozzle away from me and then turn the water on but, fuck you, it’s six in the morning and I haven’t had coffee yet. I prefer to play European roulette with my morning showers thank you very much.
While we’re on the subject of the bathrooms, the toilet in my room right now has a siren attached to it. Now I know if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you probably agree that I need a toilet siren, but that’s not what I mean. When I flush this toilet, some combination of water into the toilet and yuck out of the toilet creates this high pitched screech that resembles a siren/rape whistle. This is the only hotel I’ve ever experienced this in, but the hotel is in Europe and I feel it needs to be included in this piece.
I mentioned earlier that I used to travel to the U.S. a lot for work. For about six months I was crossing the Atlantic literally twice a month. It was a bit grueling. I was traveling with basically the same group of people and we all because fast friends. We generally stayed at the same Marriott every trip into D.C.
For reasons I don’t understand not every room in this hotel had a mini fridge. So one time during a very late night check in, we asked the receptionist if our rooms had mini fridges. She checked her computer, tapping buttons vigorously, and then seconds later explained that they did not.
Someone in our group asked if we could get rooms that did have them. She tilted her head like we had just asked a stupid question and informed us that they could deliver a mini refrigerator to each of our rooms at no cost if that was our wish.
I was shocked.
They could do this? This was an option? Had I died and gone to heaven? Yes, yes, please deliver to each of us a mini refrigerator. We have beer that must be chilled, you understand. Heady discussions about why airline travel sucked and morning hangovers are not made from warm beer.
A half an hour later a midget showed up at my room, where we all gathered, with three mini refrigerators on a dolly. I was later informed that he was not in fact a midget, but in my inebriated state and for the purpose of this story let me assure he was a midget and at that moment he was also a god.
Fluffy towels, functioning lights, a rainfall shower head, a mini fridge delivered by midgets in white coats and a toilet that doesn’t call the police? Oh friends, I was in heaven.