Hotel And Pensions Abroad
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
A volume on this subject alone would not exhaust it. Of the most luxurious hotels in the principal cities of Europe and many other foreign lands little need be said except that they offer service about equal to those in the United States at approximately the same prices. In London and Paris, room and breakfast in quite good enough hotels may be had, except in the most crowded tourist season, at about $3.50 a day. Moderate priced hotels are generally good in the standard tourist countries, with the exception of Italy. But even the best of these often have no running water, and seldom are equipped with private baths. The American plan (room and all meals) is advisable in most of them. In some, slightly reduced rates are allowed those who prefer to take their mid-day meals wherever sightseeing finds them. Hotels in Scandinavia are good, comfortable, clean, but in no sense luxurious, and almost nowhere abroad are hotels sufficiently heated for American taste. In Spain from fifty pesetas a day up is the average rate in the de luxe hotels of Madrid and a few other large cities. More or less first-class hotels n that land range around half that amount. In Madrid, Seville, etc., very passable hotel accommodations may be had complete for seven to eight pesetas. Prices are usually doubled during Easter and other fiesta seasons.
Most European hotel bills include certain government taxes, in some cases as many as four in number. To get at all the whys and wherefores of these is hardly worth the normal tourist's time, since they are in any case inexorable, whether comprehensible or not. Even with these added, the cost of hotel living in all but the most expensive establishments is on the whole somewhat lower in Europe than in the United States.
The question of hotel reservations is important chiefly during the American tourist season. Undoubtedly one of the chief advantages of a conducted tour is that this item is taken care of by the organizers. Individual travelers will do well to choose their hotels as far in advance as possible and write for accommodations.
The smaller yet not uncomfortable hotels in European cities and minor towns are still on the whole reasonable in price. Yet in these in particular it is well for those to whom expense is an important factor to adopt the un-American custom of bargaining. Above all make sure just what is included in the price asked. An extra charge for an "American breakfast" (meaning on the continent anything more than coffee or chocolate and rolls) is customary. Even your two morning eggs will be set down religiously on the daily bill unless it is specified that the price includes them. There is often an extra charge for light, though electricity has largely taken the place of the doled out candles that gave reason for this item. "Attendance" is another European contrivance for getting the most possible out of a guest. This frank acknowledgment that the hotel expects guests to pay its servants is in addition to the customary tip, now frequently also included in the bill. In the most modest hotels worthy your patronage, particularly in smaller cities and rural communities, a very small sum, some-times as little as $1.00 a day, will often suffice for a modest room, perhaps with continental breakfast. Two in the same room reduces the charge much more than is usually the case in the United States. In London the so-called temperance hotels offer suitable accommodations at reasonable cost. In Paris there is the entire gamut to choose from, down to $1 a day complete.
There are PENSIONS and pensions. Some offer much less than the hotels, at prices, sometimes by clever manipulation, equal or higher. On the other hand, some of these glorified boarding-houses are home-like, clean, and in spite of a tendency to cut corners at table so sharply that only empty platters ever go back to the kitchen, adequate as to food. In the off season the modest traveler should be able to find suitable accommodations in even the larger European cities at $7 a week, and at $10 when the American migration is at its height. In Paris, canvass the Rive Gauche, the left bank of the Seine, erstwhile Latin Quarter. In Berlin, the less distant suburbs give most promise. In Rome and Madrid, easily recognizable signs in the windows may be investigated while sightseeing.
A possible means of economizing is to buy HOTEL COUPON'S, issued by the better known tourist companies, either at home or abroad. They are sold for both "first-class" and "second-class" hotels, and are a saving particularly to those too proud or too European-tonguebound to bargain. They resemble the cut-rate tickets of New York theaters, in that they are a means of filling more expensive houses with clients who would otherwise go to cheaper ones.
The best hotel coupons are sold only for confirmed reservations. It' is therefore necessary, in case of a change in plans, to let the hotel know in advance. Otherwise they may not be able to dispose of your reservation and the unused coupons cannot then be redeemed at full value.
Farther afield, the traveler who wishes comfort rather than experience will find suitable hotels in Algiers, Cairo, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Athens, Bombay, Calcutta, Colombo, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Batavia, Saigon, Angkor, Hanoi, Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tientsin, Peking, Mukden, Seoul, the principal cities of Japan, Honolulu, Mexico City, Bogota, Lima, Valparaiso, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Cape Town, Durban, and a few other cities whose names are less well known. If he can endure the accommodations in the average French or German small city, he may visit at least a hundred other towns of minor import scattered about the globe without acute suffering. Pensions, or similar accommodations, are little in vogue outside Europe, though Buenos Aires, Rio, and Guadalajara have passable establishments more or less on that order. For long stays Peking offers delight in furnishing a house of one's own without prohibitive cost.