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This summer has been a phenomenon in European tourism. More people are flying internationally, which has led to a rise in airport chaos and lost luggage. In addition, tourists have experienced record-breaking heat.
Temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit have broken records in some European countries, making travel more difficult than usual. As a harsh or at least hot reminder, the weather has shown tourists that not all European hotels (or rental properties) provide air conditioning. This was likely not discovered by all travelers until they reached Europe.
While hotel rates have remained the same, many establishments have been slow to restore their facilities to pre-pandemic levels. Reportedly, some establishments have even begun charging extra money to their guests for the use of the air conditioning.
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It’s possible that your hotel’s air conditioning will come with an extra fee.
In a recent article, TPG highlighted the value of double-checking the hotel’s or apartment’s listed amenities before booking, especially when staying in a foreign country. Sometimes, you may find that air conditioning is a required feature. You probably won’t.
We started paying attention to Twitter around that time, and soon enough we came across a tweet by Forbes’ Travel Editor Caroline Lupini. Lupini shared details from her hotel experience in the EU.
I reserved a room at a hotel that advertised air conditioning via https://t.co/QrqrMLCf1x (also sheets, TP, soap, etc). Hotel staff informed me of the additional 10€ fee (buried in fine print). Disappointed that the hotel will not be held accountable for providing accurate information on https://t.co/QrqrMLCf1x. pic.twitter.com/h5Ct4x4w9F Caroline Lupini (@carolinelupini) on Twitter July 30, 2022
She claimed that the air conditioning cost her 10 euros ($10.20) per night at the hotel, the identity of which she did not reveal.
Lupini tweeted on July 30: “I would have been fine to pay the 10€ if I had known about it up front.” Not having it available despite being advertised as such feels like a bait and switch.
You should know that such a fee could have been as high as $12 or $13 per day back when the dollar was significantly weaker against the euro. Due to the dollar’s recent strength against the euro, the fee wasn’t exorbitant.
At least Lupini has company.
When we asked people in the TPG Lounge on Facebook if they had been charged for air conditioning, we were inundated with responses.
Doug Wooley has had to deal with the heat “several times in Mediterranean countries” where air conditioning is not the norm.
Before finalizing her hotel reservation in London, Kathy Busch noticed an unexpected charge. She wrote, “I saw the ‘room’ and the ‘premier room’.” That’s the difference! The premier edition included air conditioning.
“All over southeast Asia,” Josh Nolff elaborated on his travels. “You get the air conditioner remote if you pay for it.”
Thankfully, the room’s air conditioning was working properly upon my arrival at a well-known American hotel chain in London, and it didn’t cost me anything extra to use.
From the comments of past guests, it appears that independent European hotels are more likely to impose an additional fee for using the air conditioner (or not have air conditioning at all) than the chain hotels that most American tourists stay at using hotel points.
Yet, those who have traveled extensively will tell you that this is nothing to be shocked about.
This phenomenon occurs in other countries, why?
According to Dr. Karthik Namasivayam, professor and department chair of the School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business, the lack of air conditioning in many European hotels is due to the region’s cooler climate.
Namasivayam, an authority on the global hotel industry who also happened to live in Europe for three years, says that air conditioning isn’t a commonplace necessity because of the weather for most hotels in the past.
He told TPG that despite the record-breaking heat this summer, “the general standards in Europe are [to not have] air conditioning.” Many people still don’t have it set up.
Namasivayam said he has never been charged a separate fee for air conditioning, but he isn’t surprised to hear that some properties do so.
He explained that since the property or hotel would have to put in more work to install the air conditioning, guests could expect to pay more.
Namasivayam argued that installing air conditioning extensively would be a costly venture for hotels. The question of whether or not it will be necessary in future summers also arises, and this is directly related to concerns about the effects of climate change.
If this summer’s heat is an anomaly, as Namasivayam has speculated, then hotels may not react to it. Nonetheless, if the climate crisis persists, as many anticipate it will, and [the hotels] notice a growing trend, I suspect they will have to retrofit it, which is very expensive, or it will [be installed] with new properties getting established.
As a result, ultimately,
Namasivayam says that because air conditioning is a “anomaly from the norm” in European hotels, potential guests should be especially diligent in their investigation of available A/C options and any associated fees before making a reservation.
The cost of air conditioning could add up to an additional $70 for a weeklong stay if you pay the standard rate of 10 euros per night.
As is the case with any trip across international borders, and especially this summer when travelers have encountered one problem after another, a little bit of extra preparation can go a long way toward ensuring that your trip is free of any unpleasant surprises.
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