Accommodation

There is a wide variety of accommodation available in Europe: Hotels, pensions, B&Bs, Youth Hostels and campsites. Belgian and Dutch campsites often offer Trekkerhutte, simple accommodation for up to four people where you just need to supply sleeping bags and towels. The sanitary facilities are the blocks used by the happy campers. Hotels range from the cheap and cheerful to the five star with marble bathrooms, gold taps and suites with butler (not that we have stopped in the latter). It is always worth trying to get Halbpension (German)/demi pension (French) - half board if you are stopping in a hotel with a restaurant. It is normally cheaper than eating elsewhere. 

B&B establishments can offer superb value for money and range from the simple to the ultra comfortable. Please note that German B&Bs and small hotels do not often provide soap, so bring your own. 

The Netherlands has an organisation that we have found nowhere else. “Vrienden op de Fiets" issues a guide containing, in 2011, about 3900 addresses mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium, although there are addresses elsewhere. These addresses provide bed and breakfast for cyclists and hikers only. The rates for B&B may vary, but will not exceed €19 per person per night, at the time of writing. The exact price can be agreed upon when you contact the address. If available, a packed lunch on your request will be charged at a maximum of €5. At a few addresses dinner is served if requested for a fixed price of about €9 per person. If you wish to make reservations please contact the chosen address, preferably some days or weeks in advance, but in any case no later then 24 hours before your arrival. You may call between 8 and 10 am or between 6 and 8 pm. In our experience many hosts speak English. If you want to stay at one of their addresses you are obliged to show your membership card (donateurskaart). One card covers one family. The annual membership fee is €10 including charges for dispatch costs within Europe. Members outside Europe will be charged €6 extra for dispatch costs. We used this accommodation when researching the Rhine upstream guide. An excellent idea. 

Couchsurfing and Warm Showers are both websites offering free of charge overnight accommodation on a reciprocal basis. Warm Showers is a site for touring cyclists. Apart from the financial aspects these give a link into the local community, which is invaluable. We have never used them because much of our cycling is for research for the next book or revising one of the earlier books. 

Britain and anywhere else: If you join the Youth Hostels Association or your national association you can stop at a wide range of youth hostels all over Europe. The Youth Hostels Association in Britain offers cycling weekends at various hostels. Youth Hostels in the Netherlands are called stayokay and these do not require membership of a Youth Hostel Association. German Youth Hostels will take guests over 27 as long as they are members of a Youth Hostel Association. One hostel in Germany, the Pathpoint hostel in Cologne, does not demand membership but charges nonmembers €2.50 extra. We have yet to stay recently in a French Youth Hostel as they were always booked up, but there is no mention of an insistence on membership on the organisation’s website. Danish Youth Hostels do not allow sheet sleeping bags and charge you for duvet covers, sheets and pillow cases. Swiss Youth Hostels offer excellent accommodation at reasonable prices, but charge nonmembers a few Francs more. It is better to book ahead, even if it is only by phone the day before. When you do this order an evening meal, as this makes for a low cost night. Youth hostels have online booking systems which makes life a lot easier. Youth Hostels often do not offer towels, so bring your own. The only problem with Youth Hostels are school groups that can be noisy late at night. In this case find a member of the school staff and make your feelings known.

Cyclist-Friendly Accommodation

For us touring cyclist-friendly accommodation means you can book a room with a locked bicycle garage for one night. 

The ADFC - the national German cycle club publishes the Bett und Bike website, a searchable list of cyclist-friendly accommodation with links to Austrian, East Belgian, German and Luxembourg accommodation lists. If we are planning a trip in Germany this is the first site we use whether we are travelling by bike or not. There is an English version available by clicking on the Union flag logo. The ADFC recommends you search a town or village on the web site to find accommodation rather than downloading a list of all accommodation on the route. Use the German name not the English name for the towns and cities: Köln instead of Cologne, for example. We have found that the easiest way to use the Bett und Bike website is to find your starting town, click on any accommodation and then on the map logo shown. You will find that most accommodation in popular cycling areas will offer decent facilities for cyclists whether or not the hotel is a member of the Bett und Bike system.

In addition there are other sources of information in websites listing cyclist-friendly accommodation:

  • Austria Vienna Wien.info has 130 cyclist friendly hotels/pensions/guest houses on its books.
  • Belgium 
  • Croatia There seems to be no specific information available on cyclist friendly hotels but on the other hand we suspect that all the hotels in Croatia are cyclist-friendly.
  • Denmark The http://cyclistic.dk/en/ website has lists of cyclist-friendly accommodation in Denmark.
  • France In our experience all French hotels are cyclist-friendly and with one exception over about 35 years of cycling in France, we've always had somewhere to lock our bikes away. In the countryside these are sheds and in the towns and cities conference rooms or unused offices. 
  • Netherlands The http://www.allefietserswelkom.nl/kaart shows a map of the Netherlands with accommodation marked. By clicking on the map one links to the hotel and hostel websites. The website is in Dutch, but the accommodation websites often offer an English version. 
  • Poland There seems to be no specific information available on cyclist friendly hotels but on the other hand we suspect that all the hotels in Poland are cyclist-friendly. There are links to accommodation on http://www.poland.travel/en/cycling/cyclist--environmentalist/
  • Switzerland Check out http://www.veloland.ch/en/accommodation.html

To give you a feel for costs we normally find in western Europe that we spend just under €100 a day for the two of us. This includes picnic lunches on some days, lunches in restaurants on other days, some train and ferry travel, and an evening meal every night. 

Do you need to book ahead? 

It would be advisable from about mid-July to mid-September. We often find accommodation by going to the local tourist offices. Tourist office assistance is normally free. You will also see Zimmer Frei or Chambre d’hote - bed and breakfast notices in gardens in some areas. However one needs to start looking about 4 pm to be certain of finding somewhere. Rather than booking the whole holiday ahead, you can also ring up each day when you know roughly where you will be in the late afternoon. If you don't speak the local language well, take a list of accommodation in to the Tourist Office where you've stayed overnight and request that a member of staff in the office helps you. If you do this, then give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. Nothing is worse than having to reach a hotel by a tight deadline. Unfortunately you cannot reserve hotels by giving your credit card number, at least in Germany. The big chains may do this, but we tend to prefer little quaint hotels and their owners have yet to grasp this concept. 

Camping

There are camp sites in a number of the towns and villages.


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copyright: Judith & Neil Forsyth, Konrad-Adenauer-Allee 51A, D 68519 Viernheim