European Hotels Are Like a Box of Chocolates …

You just never know what you’re going to get when you open the door to your hotel room here.

I’m not talking about the big hotel chains. Those rooms all meet their own minimum standards. It’s the smaller hotels in Europe that always seem to provide travelers — particularly Americans, I would guess — with some head-scratching features. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

For one thing, European hotels seem to feature bathroom fixtures that are of a very modern design. The trouble is, it’s often very hard to figure out how they work. Which one of those two chrome cubes turns the shower on and which one controls the water temperature? Twist one cube and nothing happens. Try the other and you’re blasted with icy cold water coming from a row of little openings in the tile wall you never noticed. 

I’ve already written about the extra tiny room I got at my hotel in Brig. And in one of the other hotels, the bed was a platform of faux-stone mounted on pedestals that appeared to be of concrete.  The mattress, simply placed on the platform, was not very thick and I quickly learned to turn over slowly and carefully. Tossing and turning was actually painful.

My hotel here in Paris takes the cake, however. They offered me a free upgrade when I checked in and looked so dumbfounded when I tried to decline, that I gave in. The “better” room turned out to be on the ground floor, immediately adjacent to the hotel entrance, with three large windows that look right out onto the street. People walking by on the sidewalk are literally three feet in front of me as I sit at the little desk tapping out these posts on my laptop. Drapes can be drawn at night, of course, but during the day there are only sheer curtains over the windows — nothing else to prevent people passing by from looking right in at me. Interestingly, not one in a hundred actually does. It’s a novel experience and I’ve found it quite interesting to relax and watch real Parisians walking by just a few feet away. 

It’s still quite early in the morning here, and my very own Parisian Parade has yet to begin. As soon as the hotel’s breakfast room opens, I’ll go get a cup of coffee, a baguette and some cheese and bring it back here. Then I’ll open the drapes and pull up a chair. What the hell … I don’t have to leave for the airport for hours.