A few friends and I will be heading to Europe for a 3 week bicycle tour this summer. Like many cyclists touring the continent we prefer not to camp although that is an excellent option.
This is a self-guided tour and we plan to stay in a variety of B & B’s, hotels and hostels that add to the overall experience, we will be booking 15 different locations for this trip along our route through the French wine country, around Lake Constance and across part of Switzerland.
Why We Reserve in Advance
When I started bicycle touring in Europe I did not reserve any accommodations. What I found was that we had to arrive earlier at a destination (particularly on weekends) to find a place and then had to spend time searching for a place or lining up at the tourist office.
Often these last minute bookings resulted in higher prices and sometimes they were as far as 5 km from the central part of the town we wanted to explore.
One Saturday night our group of four spent two hours searching and settled for a great hotel, which was very expensive, so never again.
What Features You Require
Of course a location in the central part of town near the bicycle route that provides bicycle storage facilities. I also like a nice breakfast to start the day and if provided by the accommodation saves time.
Depending on your style of trip some smaller places may only offer private facilities at an additional cost and is WiFi free or even available.
I don’t worry too much about the star rating as it has as much to do with the facilities and I just want a clean place. Variety is the spice of life and so booking older style family hotels, quaint B & B’s plus some modern locations are all important. On past trips I have stayed even stayed in former monasteries and convents.
What to Watch
- Does the hotel, hostel or B & B accept credit card payments, many do not
- Check in times at some small hotels or B & B many be after 5 p.m., so plan you ride accordingly
- Accommodation may be cheaper if you make a non-refundable payment
- If a hotel booking site (i.e. booking.com) says the hotel is sold out, check direct with the hotel. Hotels normally hold back rooms for walk-in’s and direct sales and in one situation I was able to book 3 rooms in a desirable small hotel when booking search sites showed it sold out.
- Different seasons and time periods (i.e. weekends) can result in different prices
In Europe a double bed often means they have pushed two twin beds together
- There are hotel chains that cater to cyclists.
Some Resources for Cyclists
I did look at some of the hotel search sites such as booking.com and got advice in a few places from bicycle forums.
Bed and Breakfast.eu – features bed and breakfasts worldwide.
Bett + Bike – Site is available in English. German cycling club only features bicycle friendly accommodation not only in Germany but in neighbouring countries. Find it particularly good in smaller towns. Provides distances to bike routes.
Warmshowers – never used this organization but welcomes those bicycle touring.
Where you stay is not only a place to sleep but is part of the overall bicycle touring experience so choose well.