European Hotel Differences

Hotels in Chamonix, France

Traveling internationally for the first time taught me that hotels in America are quite different from those in the Alps. At Alpenwild, we strive to hand-pick the very best hotels for all of our tours. We work with locally-owned hotels to select accommodations that have a fine balance of comfort, privacy, and local culture and charm. The following hotel differences vary from hotel to hotel. This is simply a list of general differences of small-town European hotels, compared to American hotels.

Switzerland hotel keys
Switzerland hotel keys

Hotel Keys

Smaller hotels have a typical house/door key for your room. They’re often attached to weighted metal tags that are marked with your room number. Thankfully, they’re usually heavy and bulky enough that you won’t lose it. Not having a key card also ensures you won’t accidentally erase a plastic key card and lock yourself out of your room.

Hotel Elevators

Elevators are not standard issue in Alp hotels. If a hotel does have an elevator, they are usually quite small, made for one or two people with little luggage.

There are two common types of elevator doors. A single push/pull door (if there isn’t a handle, it is most likely a push) and a sliding door. At the moment, enjoy the adventure of discovering how the specific elevator door in front of you opens. Either way, once you get into the elevator, keep your hands away from the entrance. There isn’t always an elevator door on the inside so you may see the wall disappearing above or below you are depending on which way the elevator is going.

Illuminated light switches
Illuminated light switches look similar to this. If the room is dark, let your eyes adjust and safely navigate to the light switch.


Europeans are energy efficient, especially when it comes to using electricity. It is not uncommon to enter a dark hallway. Lights will either automatically turn on or you will need to stop while your eyes adjust and safely locate the illuminated light switches along the wall to turn the hallway lights on. In Switzerland, dark hallways aren’t creepy, they are eco-friendly!

Air conditioning

Air conditioning is a rare commodity in Europe and is usually only found in the form of small room fans or in BMWs, Mercedes’ and other high-end cars.


Again, the Europeans are very efficient. Hotel rooms are viewed as a place to sleep, not as a place to stretch your legs out and lounge around in. If you view the rooms as such and make the most of your time out of doors in the Alps, you will enjoy yourself more.

double bed
Not all double beds are two twins pushed together. However, when they are, they look similar to this.


Queen and king size beds are not as common in European hotels. If you want a queen/king size bed in Switzerland, the math usually adds up as follows: 1 twin bed + 1 twin bed pushed together = 1 queen/king) double bed. Sometimes, linens are shared between the twin beds, sometimes they are separate. It is best to specify your preferences at the time of booking and we will do our best to accommodate your requests.

Double bed at the Bella Tolla Hote
Double bed at the Bella Tolla Hotel – Day 5 of the Haute Route.


Due to the nature of some of our trekking tours, some hotels are few and far in between. On at least three nights of the Haute Route, we stay in the only hut/hotel available within miles of our daily destination. These huts/hotels have shared bathrooms. This means a shared shower, toilet and sink area for all guests. If you’d rather not share bathroom accommodations, consider opting out of a trek and trying one of our deluxe treks Deluxe Haute Route, Deluxe Tour du Mont Blanc) hiking, rail or food tours instead.



At Alpenwild, we specialize in luxury travel in the Alps. Hotels on our tours, rich with the local culture in addition to luggage transfers, will offer the best trekking night’s sleep possible and beat packing all of your gear the whole trip. European hotels are ideal for the souls that long for adventure and “go with the flow” with surprises along the way. We hope you will enjoy the adventure that Alp hotels offer and make memories you can create on the trail that will last for years to come.

Happy trekking!

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