I plan to write a number of essays about our wonderful visit to Slovenia (we fly home in the morning), but first let me reflect on the things I love most about European hotels, as well as the things that puzzle me.
The environmentally responsible part of me loves the way that one needs to insert the key card into a slot by the door to turn on the electricity in the room. Of course, if you want to power up a computer or keep the room warm/cold while you are out, it is a bit problematic. But overall, I wish American hotels would go this route.
I love European hotel bathrooms that include towel dryers, which are especially appreciated when washing underwear and socks in the sink. Many bathrooms also include a bidet, which we have never attempted to use. Apparently one can wash various body parts in them, including one’s feet. On the web there are tutorials on using them, but I find the illustrations frightening and a bit disturbing. European friends claim they cannot imagine life without one. Perhaps some day we will learn proper appreciation.
Newer or renovated European hotel rooms offer a bewildering array of light switches. It can take several days to sort out which ones carry out various functions, and which do nothing at all. Similarly, the HVAC system may be less than intuitive. I spent two days at our very nice hotel in Bled fiddling with the control on the wall before I figured out that one needed to open a hatch on the radiator and hit an unmarked switch before the wall control did anything at all. Housekeeping is seemingly instructed to turn this switch off between guests so that new arrivals will have the fun of searching for it.
European bathrooms often feature bathtubs so deep that one should not attempt to step in or out of them to shower while remotely tipsy. There will be no grab bar. However, there is a chain with a plastic, dangly thing with “SOS” inscribed on it that you can pull if you fall. Except, of course, you will not be able to reach the chain. There will be no shower curtain. Rather, there will be a hinged bit of glass. It is cleverly positioned to make it impossible to spray water on one’s body without also spraying the floor or countertop. I believe this design is meant to encourage short showers.
All of our rooms here have featured a trouser press. I simply must press a pair of trousers one day to show my appreciation.
European hotels almost universally include an absolutely amazing breakfast. In addition to the things one might expect to find it an American hotel (eggs, sausage, cereal, etc.) there will be a selection of meats and cheeses, roasted vegetables, many kinds of fruit, thick loaves of bread to slice yourself, and remarkably good coffee (they know that Italians will never come back if the coffee is bad). In Bled there was even a bottle of prosecco because, hey, why not? I am particularly grateful that European hotels would never, ever include a “make your own waffle” machine. Free hotel breakfasts are a great joy.
On the plus side, there will usually be a king-size bed. On the minus side, it will actually consist of two mattresses with a gap in-between them, ranging from an inch to a chasm. And it will have a duvet, or possibly two matching duvets. Discussing duvets is similar to discussing religion or politics, so I will be guarded here. At least a duvet offers one a choice between being too hot or too cold. There is no third option.
Finally, an upmarket European hotel will feature a wonderful bar with a gifted bartender. I will miss the one here at the Grand Union Hotel in Ljubljana terribly. On arrival, one can have a glass of wine and a plate of artisan cheeses. Late in the evening, one can explore marvelous digestifs. The bar here, for example, features some sort of Slovenian gin that one sips like brandy, with a sprig of juniper leaf. It makes even the likes of me feel momentarily sophisticated.