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No Air Conditioning?

Hello, Everyone!
I'm so thankful to find this forum!

My family & I are taking a European trip this summer (August). We have booked a flat in London; however, there is NO AC! WHAT? We are from the mid-west and no way could we live without AC. Everyone assures me its customary not to have AC and really not needed. I have concerns - what about allergies? I'm interested in everyone's feedback.

Posted by
16847 posts

That's a natural concern from an American. Odds are that you'll be fine without a/c from the standpoint of heat (I can't address your allergy concern), but there are no absolute guarantees. In the old days (pre-global warming), I can assure you that heat is not what I worried about on trips to London; chilly and damp was more what I experienced. But there are occasional heat waves.

How late can you cancel the apartment? If you can do so 72 hours out, by that time you'll have a decent weather forecast for at least the first few days of your stay and will know whether you're in trouble.

Posted by
9 posts

Good point! I'm used to hot, humid weather here in St. Louis.

Yes, we can cancel within 7 days - you make a good point -- I viewed average temps on accuweather and it states average highs in the low 70s.

I'm not worried so much about myself as my husband, but you are right - if it looks like it's going to be too hot, I can cancel.

Posted by
533 posts

Summers in Northern Europe don't usually get very hot, and the number of days when AC would be needed is not enough to justify the cost of installing it. If you happen to catch a hot spell, you can open a window, turn on a fan, congregate on the shady side of the house, or just deal with being a bit hotter than you would ideally like. Humanity survived for thousands of years without air conditioning, and so can you.

If you suffer from nasal allergies, be sure to visit your doctor or pharmacy before you go and pick up a sufficient quantity of your medications of choice. Not all American allergy medicines are widely available in the UK, and when they are, they can be expensive - although this may have changed since the last time I spent a summer there.

Posted by
20634 posts

Americans are use to a/c everywhere, all the time. London, historically, tends to be cooler in the summer but it can be very warm bordering on hot. The other thing you will encounter is no screens on the windows. So if the windows are open you may have visitors at night. Over the years with more than month in London we have had some uncomfortable nights. Part of the cultural experience.

Posted by
79 posts

We were in London last summer, and it was very hot. The temps hit the 90s. Unusual for them, but the weather is becoming more unpredictable. Thank goodness our hotel was air conditioned. I am from NYC and used to hot, humid weather, but that doesn't mean I would choose to sleep in it. I would stay in a place with AC. The worse that could happen is you don't need it.

Posted by
8293 posts

If you decide to cancel, do not leave it too late or you might have difficulty getting a hotel room with AC in high season.

Posted by
11432 posts

We've been to Europe many times in summer . Anywhere else except Dublin or London, and I would say get ac .

However both those places don't USUALLY have such hot weather that you would need it, there have been a few exceptions over the years , but I would chance it myself .

It's also been cool and rainy more often than hot , so chances are in your favour . Even if you hit hot weather it generally cools at night , not like a hot Paris or Rome where it just stays hot 24 hrs a day

Posted by
7689 posts

I don't tolerate heat very well and last Sept London hit a record high temp when I was there. Ugh. I also hit heat the first of Sept in 2013 and it was miserable sleeping. For myself, if I were going in August I would have to have AC.

Posted by
13 posts

I'm from the hot, humid Midwest as well, but didn't have much trouble with no a/c on my 2 trips to London. One trip was hot (for London, not St. Louis) the other cool and rainy...both in the summertime. My bigger problem in the hot summer was not having the right clothes and shoes since it was an add on to an Ireland trip..shorts but dorky shoes. When I got back to the hotel in the evening, I took a cool shower and sat in front of the window and fan with a cool drink. Not at all like trying to sleep with no air at home! As far as allergies go, I don't recall them being especially noticeable, not like Missouri, but take your meds to be sure!

Posted by
293 posts

As for me, it is needed! I am from Central California, where it gets very hot. But everywhere you go it is air-conditioned. Yes, I would definitely need an air-conditioned hotel. If your room is located upstairs, it will be hot. If you can't open the windows, it will be hot. Yes, perhaps the temps will be only in the 80's but it can be humid.

I feel that it's necessary that one has a cool respite somewhere - maybe a cold shower could help you? But some hotels only have a bath - look into that.

Walking around hot all day, then trying to sleep hot at night - yes, that's kind of a nightmare for me. Last summer in Germany it was in the high 90's with humidity - but my hotel room had a shower, and a cool breeze thankfully due to a window I could open.

(Even many of the big stores are not air-conditioned.) Allergies? Can't speak to that.

Posted by
796 posts

I live in Nashville and have both allergies and a health condition that requires me to keep a cooler body temperature. London has been known to have heat waves. I would recommend cancelling that flat and booking one that has AC or staying in a hotel with AC. It will be worth the effort.

Posted by
12103 posts

When there is no air conditioning, I just get use to the situation and adapt. Having AC is a luxury, I don't need it in Europe; certainly is not one of the essentials I look for in a hotel. In Vienna, Germany, France, and Paris when a heat wave was raging, I've been there too. . Who hasn't? Yes, the heat was stifling and oppressive since I go over mainly sometime from May to August. There was no AC in the two star hotel, and none of the places I stay at now. In London at the B&Bs where I stay there is of course no AC.

Posted by
440 posts


Keep the flat booking and book a hotel with A/c on or similar which you can pay on arrival and free cancellation. Check the weather a week in advance if its going to be hot cancel the flat if not cancel the hotel.

Posted by
4471 posts

Older buildings were built without AC and didn't need it so much even today because of such things as thick solid walls and draughty windows that were small.

However, insulation in modern buildings, double glazing, big windows etc can make them much less comfortable in hot weather without AC.

Posted by
4028 posts

I was glad to see Fred's post, and Marco had a good point about the older buildings.

I guess I'm in a slim minority here, but I don't much care for air conditioning. I like to open the window, smell the local air, and get acclimated to local conditions. Even in the Southwest US. (My sister lives in Phoenix. When we visit her we turn off the a/c in our room and open the windows.)

And as a few people have indicated, most of Europe, especially north of the Alps, doesn't get terribly hot. Yes, every country has the occasional aberrant heat wave, but on the whole, summer temps are moderate.

Edit to add: I do know that there are medical conditions, such as MS, that make people unable to tolerate heat. I'm just commenting on my personal preferences. And yes, I have already realized that if I ever take a tour without my DH, I'll have to pay the single supplement!

Posted by
12103 posts

Two features one can expect in B&Bs in London, which has been my experience after staying in several of elevator and no AC. Still, I prefer a B&B in London.

Posted by
5730 posts

It is not common to find rentals, apts and home's, with A/C in Europe.

Posted by
80 posts

I live in the midwest also, and know all about hot summers! I've been to London twice in the summer - although not in August - and I've never yearned for an air conditioner. Once, on the very top floor of a small London hotel also!

I also have spring allergies and was worried, and was armed to the teeth with Zyrtec-D. One fateful day I forgot to take an allergy pill and was just horrified remembering that I'd forgotten to take my precious pill. But surprisingly, no allergies whatsoever! That night and the next day, decided not to take an allergy pill and was fine too! So for the rest of the trip, did not take allergy pills at all and was allergy-free the whole trip!

I don't know, maybe it was just me, but my allergies was just non-existent! Of course, everyone's different, but just telling you my experience!

Posted by
4028 posts

We have found that our allergies are different in Europe from what we have in the US. When we lived in Poland, my allergies totally disappeared, but DH was miserable with the chestnut trees and cottonwoods. We have cottonwoods here in northeast Oklahoma, but they are the cotton-less variety. In Poland, they have the old fashioned cottony variety. So you can't really compare, or you can't assume that your allergies will be the same there as here.

We pack some antihistamines, but don't worry too much.

Posted by
2766 posts

I have gone to Europe 14 of the last 15 years, both in the spring and the fall but in the summer in Scandinavia. I have never had AC in anywhere i have stayed. Guess since I have been in Hawaii for most of the last 16 years without AC, guess I have adapted to life without it.

Posted by
607 posts

Life's too short. In August, I would just book a place with a.c. Better to have it and not need it.

Posted by
650 posts

I was in London this past March. The weather was mostly cool and windy but I need fresh air so I try to keep the window open a bit. However the window could not be opened (there was a sign posted) and the thermostat could not be adjusted to raise or lower temperature. I am a terrible sleeper but after walking and touring all day, I retired to my room, read some of a book I brought and easily fell asleep. I have a more difficult time sleeping at home. Europe just requires adjustments.

Posted by
1 posts

We are now in London and it's so hot. The worse part is the tube (subway). I think it's like 40 degrees there. Very Unpleasant.
I don't know why there is no AC here. People are experiencing heat waves for two decades. Probably too $$ to install them.
Switzerland was even worse!!

Posted by
23587 posts

The Tube is hot, year round.

Some new Underground trains now have air conditioning. Of course all the heat removed from a train has to go somewhere - into a tunnel and into stations.

Perhaps making good use of buses will give you better scenery and the roast-masters (oops, Boris Buses) (oops again - New Routemaster for it's real name) (for anybody from LA you will think it looks like a low-rider) now have air-conditioning fitted.

And it was only 30 C or so today. That's only 86F.

Posted by
5817 posts

We don't have much air conditioning in the UK because for 50+ weeks of the year (51+ in the north) there is absolutely no need for it. Even if we wanted it, it would be virtually impossible to retrofit it to most of our old buildings without incurring huge expense fitting and running it and ruining their appearance.

As Nigel suggests try using the buses rather than the tube. If nothing else there should be a breeze.
Circle, Hammersmith and City, Metropolitan and District line trains have air conditioning which means they are quite pleasant to travel on. They are able to fit it on these lines because they run above ground for a large part of their roots so the heat can escape, Avoid the Central line which does get really hot and unpleasant.

Posted by
12103 posts

It was hot in today east of Berlin on the way to Frankfurt an der Oder too. No problem with putting up with 86F in London. Good explanation for why the Tube is hot.

Posted by
491 posts

Well, I'll put my two cents (pence?) in. I thought the buses were rather hot when I was there the first week of June. Of course, I was ill and I might have been overdressed. I knew the Tube could be hot but I thought that buses would be air conditioned as they are here.