Notes: If you've missed it, page one features the introduction to this article (and explains what I mean by "typical" along with a peek at my transportation costs for the journey. All hotel prices mentioned here are for a double room for two people.
First a little background. In western Europe, we generally focus our search on those hotels rated three stars, but will certainly consider staying in nice looking, two star hotels. It was hot last summer, so during the really hot spells we looked for air conditioning, which is usually a feature of 4 star hotels, but con be found in 3 star hotels if you look hard enough. (What do hotel stars mean?)
How do I choose? I look at the outside of the hotel to see if it's all there and looks clean. I case out the neighborhood to see if it's a place I'd want to hang out in at night. Then I go inside and look around the lobby and ask the price. If I'm still unsure of the place I ask to see the room. It's always your right to see the room before you rent it; turn away from places that won't let you do this.
Note that in France you can usually see the prices from the sidewalk.
Lodging Statistics 2003
Hotels in 2003 that we chose to stay in ranged in price from 36 Euros to 90 Euros.
The cheapest hotel was the San Martin de Unx Motel in Spain. The price, 36 Euros, didn't include breakfast, but we paid and got pancakes. The hotel was run mostly on solar power and had a pool. (Read the review)
Most interesting Location? The hotel in the picture in the upper right of this article is of the Hotel du Pont Romain Cecchin in Aosta, northern Italy. It was actually built into the Roman bridge in the foreground. If you go, ask to see the cantina at breakfast, it's part of the bridge. The hotel was also reasonably priced. Mr. Cecchin was an Italian boxing champion in the '50s, and the dining room has proof in photos.
In General, hotels were cheapest in Spain, France and Portugal, and more expensive in Italy and Belgium.
The most expensive hotel we slept in was located in the southwest of France in the Basque country, at St. Jean Pied-de-Port. It was bestowed with 4 stars and had a pool and GREAT air conditioning. The restaurant was renowned for its cuisine and prices certainly reflected that (A meal for one could easily cost more than a double room). It was hot, there were lots of tourists, so despite not wanting to pay that much I caved in, knowing the air conditioning would save me in the end and it did.
The funkiest hotel we chose was in Troyes, France: Les Comtes de Champagne. It was a great hotel with a helpful staff, a garage and the deluxe rooms (the cheap ones were sold out at the time) took you back a few centuries with the antiques and older furnishings (but new bathrooms, I'm happy to report) as well as the enormous size of the sleeping chamber. But after a day of wandering around the fabulously attractive city of Troyes in the Champagne region of France, I had noticed some houses that seemed to be tilting precariously, and others that seemed just a little off kilter. Well, the hotel floors reflected centuries of settling themselves. You didn't need to spend a lot of money on alcoholic beverages if you felt like walking serpentine, just taking a cold-sober walk around your room did the trick.
The average hotel price we paid for a hotel in Europe during the high season turned out to be 54.70 Euros, and averaged 3 stars. Note: In some ways 2003 was an anomaly in travel after 911 and the war on Iraq; several hotels offered special rates that were up to 30% off their normal high-season rates.
Click next to hear about the cost of food in European Restaurants.