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What is the magic date when hotels typically turn on the heat in France and surrounding countries?

Currently traveling in France and Spain... We're changing our itinerary on the fly to avoid colder spots because we've encountered too many hotels that are unheated and without any temperatire controls in the room. Both of us came down with colds. It doesn't work to pile on blankets, because they fall off during the night.

I'm guessing that everyone except foreigners knows not to expect heat until a certain date, and I'm wondering what the date is when custom dictates it's reasonable to turn on the heat.

Posted by
4949 posts

FYI Generally you don't get a a common cold virus from a chilly temp in a hotel;
you get that from not washing your hands enough during the Fall - Winter season.

Posted by
8276 posts

Not sure about France, but usually in Italy hotels can have the heat (or AC) on any time they choose for their guests' comfort. It is condominiums and residences that are regulated. Did you ask at the desk?

Posted by
4097 posts

Marcia,
This doesn’t answer your question but your post reminded me of my experience.

Last year in late September, I was staying in Baveno, Lake Maggiore, when the nights became chilly, and my hotel room was cold. I tried to turn on the heater to no avail. When I asked at the front desk if they could turn on the heater, I was told that there was some kind of rule that they couldn’t turn on the heaters until after October 1st, and only if it was cold enough to warrant the need to turn them on. I was given an extra blanket and I also ended up buying some warm pjs.

Best wishes to you!

Posted by
4539 posts

The room temperature does not cause one to 'catch a cold'

This from the Mayo clinic website regarding 'colds'---
Causes
Although many types of viruses can cause a common cold, rhinoviruses are the most common culprit.
A cold virus enters your body through your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can spread through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks.
It also spreads by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by sharing contaminated objects, such as utensils, towels, toys or telephones. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after such contact or exposure, you're likely to catch a cold.

Sorry for the misery this has added to your trip.

Ask the operator of the establishment if it is heated, is probably the best suggestion

Posted by
218 posts

Laurel, hotels in Italy do have to follow the city's dates to turn on/off heating and AC. Last week was cold in some areas and it wasn't possible to turn them on yet.

I didn't understand the problem with blankets and covers .. what do you mean they fall off? Put them on right!

Posted by
2025 posts

We had a student with a concussion who was just released from a hospital travel with us from Rome to a hotel in Florence. The student was shivering and couldn’t warm up no matter how many blankets we put on her. I explained the situation to the hotel staff. The manager said they couldn’t turn the heat on for 3 more days by order of the city, that was early October—I don’t remember the exact date. Our solution was to have her sleep in warmer clothes (long underwear, warm jammies, wool beanie and socks). We also warmed her sleeping clothes up with a hairdryer before she got into bed. We gave her warm drinks before bed. She survived the 3 days.

Posted by
12624 posts

It's really unpleasant when you can't get warm enough even in your hotel room. I remember a chilly, wet day in Corfu--probably in May--that had me digging through my suitcase, looking for something warm to wear to bed. These days I usually travel with a pair of polypropylene long johns, which I guess I could sleep in.

Marcia, I'm really curious about where you have been in France and Spain that has cooled off so much in early October. I will try to avoid those places during shoulder season on future trips, because I really dislike being cold. Autumn comes earlier some years than others; I barely got out of Croatia in time during October 2015.

Posted by
785 posts

I have bought hot water bottles in Italy, on three past trips in September/ October time when the heat isn't on yet.
A lifesaver! Now I bring one with me from home.
The long underwear is a good thing to pack too; as are those little stretchy gloves from the dollar store, and a toque or beanie hat.
None of it takes up much room in your case.

Posted by
5079 posts

It doesn't work to pile on blankets, because they fall off during the
night.

Is that the same way it works at home? I am not sure how to make sense of this comment. I would think tucking the blankets under your body would work.

Posted by
12624 posts

I have had a lot of European bedding that is only slightly larger than the top surface of the bed, so it cannot be tucked in (other than the bottom sheet, of course). I have often looked at it and wondered how it would work with two people sharing the bed.

Posted by
3544 posts

We rented an apartment in Paris where the heat didn't come on till October 15, the last of our nine nights there. We did OK with windows closed and plenty of covers, but it wasn't abnormally cold outside. We did appreciate the heat that last night! I don't know whether this was a local law or just the building policy.

Posted by
4031 posts

In Paris, there's no law that tells the managers of buildings with collective heat when they have to turn the heat on (in the fall) or off (in the spring). It's decided by the building's owners and managers. So one might be in a building where the heat gets turned on on October 7, and another where it's not on until the 15th, another that waits even longer, and so on and so forth.

Posted by
8276 posts

MR, we were in a building in northern Italy in early September (this year) when it turned chilly and the landlord turned on the heat at night.

Posted by
187 posts

Marcia, I'm really curious about where you have been in France and Spain that has cooled off so much in early October.

Our hotel room in La Rochelle a week ago was very cold. I'm not sure the outdoor temperature was so low, but the room obviously hadn't been heated in months and we had a hard time getting comfortable even with a bunch of blankets. Ditto for a town in Spain on the Atlantic coast whose name I cannot remember at the moment.

Walking around Paris 4-5 days ago was quite chilly.

Today we were in Foix, in the Pyrenees, and that was very chilly as well.

At home, we are comfortable with our bedroom at 64 degrees when we sleep, so it's not as if we're spoiled brats who need 72 degrees to be at ease...

Posted by
12624 posts

Thank you, Marcia. I plan to travel through both Foix and La Rochelle next year, so I'll check historical weather patterns carefully before finalizing the itinerary. The northern coast of Spain is pretty cool even in mid-summer, but I was lucky not to have any cold days there.

Posted by
218 posts

Laurel, the official date for turning on the heat this year in Lombardia is octubre 15th, so if he turned it on in September he wasn't following the law...

Posted by
187 posts

Laurel, the official date for turning on the heat this year in Lombardia is octubre 15th, so if he turned it on in September he wasn't following the law...

Now why would some city make a law forbidding a hotel from turning on its heat if guests are cold?

Posted by
2301 posts

Now why would some city make a law forbidding a hotel from turning on
its heat if guests are cold?

I was wondering that one too! LOL

From my experience, hotels big or small can BLAST the heat and only if I am very lucky, I can open the windows to my room to find instant relief. As for catching a cold, you can catch a cold from someone sitting next to you or your touching an elevator button just after someone with a cold pressed that same button after sneezing. If you are concerned about your room's temperature, contact a hotel that interests you to find out about individual room heat controls as each property probably handles heating differently.

Posted by
187 posts

In this 2 year old post lachera provided some insight and good links into the process in Italy.

It does make sense: drive away comfort-focused travelers and the country saves energy.

Seriously, we will not come back to Europe in October if hotels are not allowed to turn on the heat. If you're not used to this, it can be a health hazard, not to mention highly unpleasant.

Posted by
2025 posts

I think you just need to be prepared for it. It’s a cultural experience. If you really can’t take a chance on a room not being heated (or cooled?) to a narrow comfort level you may find yourself traveling at some even colder times of the year in order to assure heat in your hotel room. Or you can travel to other countries where this energy conserving routine isn’t practiced.

Edit: I do sympathize with you not feeling well AND having to deal with a room that can’t be warmed up. Miserable.

Posted by
218 posts

Marcia, if it was a health hazard because it was particularly cold, the government would allow to turn on heat/ac before the normal date. Otherwise, why would it be a health hazard? A little cold does not affect you, you put on a sweater, or sleep with a cover and it's actually nice....
And it's not just for hotels, it's of course for homes too.
I just think that in my home city, it can get quite cold and there is just no heat at all in homes. When it gets cold, people wear a warm sweater, watch a movie under a blanket.... Everybody survives, I guarantee it.

Posted by
1577 posts

Thanks for the warning and the reminder that not everywhere is 90 degrees and running the AC in October. I've never been able to travel at this time of year due to work, but now that I'm retired I will keep this situation in mind and bring warm clothes if I go to Europe in October.

Posted by
11034 posts

Last Oct I went back to London, landed there from SFO on 13 Oct, stayed at the usual B&Bs in Kings Cross. I spent the next 11 nights in London. There were a few nights towards the end when it felt my single room was a bit cool. Certainly, day time was already too brisk with only a summer jacket. Of course, I was not aware that on a certain given date the B&B should turn on the heat at night.

Posted by
3285 posts

I can only speak
For Romania as I am
Visiting now. The heat is regulated by law regardless of current weather conditions in hotels at least. Whether u need heat or not it is now officially
On here to
25 centigrade. Hotel guests cannot turn it off either. Bizarre at it is way to
Hot and windows are sealed.

Posted by
3344 posts

I always seem to catch a cold on all my trips - but it has nothing to do with the temperature outside and everything to do with being around hordes of people everyday, which I'm usually not at home. Also, we are more active when travelling, which I imagine makes our immune system have to work a little harder. Then again, my husband NEVER gets a cold when we travel...hmmmm. Case in point - this year, London in early July - hot as all get out, and I got a cold. We've travelled in early Sept, mid-Sept, April, May, early-mid-Oct - and I almost always have a cold a few days before coming home.

Posted by
2301 posts

Seriously, we will not come back to Europe in October if hotels are
not allowed to turn on the heat. If you're not used to this, it can be
a health hazard, not to mention highly unpleasant.

A health hazard? I think that's a bit dramatic. Somehow, those who are native to areas you are thinking of visiting aren't risking their health annually in October. Exactly where did you read that hotels are mandated by local, regional or national law NOT to provide heat. Please provide a link. Thanks.

Posted by
12624 posts

Continental, see Mona's post upthread, which contains a link to an earlier thread with very interesting information (supported by links) posted by lachera in 2016.

Posted by
187 posts

And last night, a bit north of Barcelona in Spain, we woke up at 2 am feeling cold. I got dressed, went down and asked the guy at the desk for an extra blanket, which he provided and which got us back to sleep eventually.

Many of the places we've stayed did not have anyone available in the wee hours.

I know people are questioning me saying this affects one's health. Really, it's not a health hazard to you to wake up shivering or get a poor night's sleep?

Posted by
218 posts

I'm sorry Marcia, unless the temperature is low enough that you can get hypothermia, then no.

Honestly, it bewilders me that you are so helpless because there is no heat, the covers fall off (?), It is a health hazard... I think traveling will do you good, see that there are different ways of doing things and you can learn from it.
And I'm not talking of places where poverty or rough conditions demand that there is no heat, but situations like this, not always are things like at home.

And a little cold (it's not under 15 degrees) won't do anything.

Posted by
4714 posts

Fred, there is no law in the UK regulating when hotels are allowed to turn the heating/AC off or on. It's up to the individual hotel or hotel group policy. I don't think the British would stand for it :-)
Whilst certainly miserable being cold at night isn't going to do any harm to a healthy person. Why not ask for extra blankets when you check in then you will be ready when you need them. Hunting down a hot water bottle can also do wonders .

Posted by
11034 posts

Thanks for the information. It wasn't cold in the room but a bit cooler than what I had expected, still very satisfactory

Posted by
8276 posts

MR, Maybe they can turn on earlier in the Alto Adige? We were in a Residence, vacation apts. I know when we lived in Rome the condo board never voted to turn the heat on until early December!

Posted by
218 posts

Yes I think it depends on the region, maybe even the comune, and of course if there are unexpected temperature drops, or heat, they change the date.
I know at least in Milan, it will be october 15th.

Posted by
140 posts

I think room temperature and sleeping conditions are something you get used to over time. At home, our bedrooms are set for the mid-50s, I sleep in a tshirt, and I am comfortable all winter, as is the rest of my family. The residents of the places you are visiting have experienced a gradual drop in temperature as the season changes, so they likewise are accustomed to cooler sleeping weather. Since you are just dropping in for a visit, your body hasn't had a chance to acclimate and you feel cold. While the cold won't make you sick (germs make you sick, not the temperature), it is no fun if you're not sleeping well.

So, best advice is to wear warm stuff to bed (long johns, wool socks) and layer up those blankets. And, if you're traveling with your partner, snuggle up! :-)

Posted by
1798 posts

LMAO, I don't know that I'd call freezing one's butt off a cultural experience or cultural difference. It's just the Landlord trying to keep his utility costs in check for as long as he can before the heating season gets into full swing. No idea whether an "official" date exists in France or Spain, but in every U.S. apartment I've ever lived in that included heat in the rent, said heat was never turned on before October 15th which, in some states I lived in, was the rule made by housing courts mandating landlords get the heat on by that date.

Now in every place we've lived where tenants are the ones responsible to pay for our own heat or air, it's never been an issue to flip back and forth from a/c to heat back to a/c again as our weather can be strangely fluid this time of year.

I don't know what part of the U.S. you are from, but people's tolerances for cold do run differently so October in parts of France and Spain could be very different than your seasonal "norm" back at home. I can always tell who the Canadians are in Cape Cod and Rhode Island because they are the only ones splashing in the ocean in early June when I won't even think about sticking my toe in the water until much later in the season because it can be hot on land but the ocean can remain cold.

Just think of this as a lesson learned for future travel in shoulder season (same goes for Spring travel) to be prepared with your packing. I love Land's End Thermaskin pants and their long sleeve crew neck - really soft, super lightweight and take up hardly any space in my bag (I go carry-on only). They keep me really warm and I can easily layer them under my pajamas if I need to or even my daytime clothes if it's suddenly really cold outside.

Posted by
1953 posts

It's logical that I'm like DebVT, as she says:

I think room temperature and sleeping conditions are something you get used to over time. At home, our bedrooms are set for the mid-50s, I sleep in a tshirt, and I am comfortable all winter, as is the rest of my family.

We use one blanket as well. Our highest heat setting creeped up to 62 degrees last winter...we have a temporary longterm guest with Sicilian DNA... Of course, it depends on what temperature you become accustomed to at home. I can't see where you live. We only turn the heat on before thanksgiving if inside the house is colder than high 50's at dinner when we are slowing down. Or...if we have company from elsewhere.

Layer up is what I'd suggest. I almost always travel with a soft hat and gloves, and socks. That will keep the rest of you warm while you sleep. When we stayed in Sorrento one February, the heat came on between 6 and 11 PM, that was it. However, they provided many blankets. It's all what you are use to so if you are traveling out of your temperature zone, bring some warmer clothes. It is miserable being cold, but not as bad as being too hot, IMO. Although Venice was the coldest place I have every been when it had no central heating in January in the 70's... So we all have our limits.

Posted by
4042 posts

Fred, there is no law in the UK regulating when hotels are allowed to turn the heating/AC off or on. It's up to the individual hotel or hotel group policy. I don't think the British would stand for it :-)

No, but there is official advice produced as to what temperature parts of the home should be heated to, which basically amounts to living spaces 21C/70F and bedrooms and bathrooms 18C/65F. This is broadly in line with the World Health Organisation. Although these are only guidelines and people's metabolism differs.

The average home in the UK in 1970 was only heated to 13C/55F in the times without widespread central heating, double glazing and insulation. Some buildings in Southern Europe today may lack one or more of these simply because it isn't considered a necessity, in the same was that hardly anyone has A/C in their homes in the UK.

UK public buildings often run on the principle of heating only on between 1 October and 1 April.

Posted by
187 posts

We are currently staying in a 4-star hotel in Granada, Spain, where the room is again cold.

Here we learned that the heat won't ever go on until November 1st. Despite the fact that it goes down to 48 degrees at night outdoors.

Posted by
12624 posts

Sounds as if the extra layers I (may) need for Scotland next summer may also be necessary in Andalucía in April. I'm really sorry you're having this problem, but I'm glad you're posting about it, because as a (usually) high-season traveler, I had taken the availability of heat in the off-season for granted.

Posted by
5079 posts

We are currently staying in a 4-star hotel in Granada, Spain, where
the room is again cold.

Define "cold" since it's a subjective term. What's the indoor temperature? You said you could handle 64 degrees - is the room colder than 64 degrees?

Posted by
2334 posts

"Well, it's cold over here, and I swear,
I wish they'd turn the heat on.
And where in the world is that English girl
I promised I would meet on the third floor?"

Thanks to this thread I've got Jerry Jeff Walker turned up on the youtube machine.

Posted by
218 posts

If you are that sensitive to cold you should really bring warm clothes, a blanket etc with you.
Really, 48 Fahrenheit are like 9 Celsius, and that's outside, so inside it must be warmer. My hometown gets that temperature at night, all year long and there is no heat in homes... Nobody has died ...
I understand you feel uncomfortable, but you're way overreacting with this.

Posted by
187 posts

If anyone has any additional information on when heat is authorized to be turned on in various countries in Europe, please add it to the thread. If you're going to blame me for being upset about being cold in a hotel, or try to convince me that being cold doesn't affect one's health, I really don't believe that is helpful.

Thank you.

Posted by
4305 posts

@marcia, I remember being in Florence in early November many years ago and being told about the future date the heat would be allowed -- and yes, cold can be quite uncomfortable!

Posted by
2715 posts

What's hilarious about all of this is that Europe is currently going through a late-autumn heat wave. Daytime highs have been above 70 for the last two weeks. It's really unusual - it got to 80 on Saturday! Nighttime temps are brisk but still well above average for this time of year. OP doesn't know how good she has it. All the travelers I've encountered lately have been incredibly grateful for the unseasonably sunny weather.

Posted by
2301 posts

What's hilarious about all of this is that Europe is currently going
through a late-autumn heat wave. Daytime highs have been above 70 for
the last two weeks. It's really unusual - it got to 80 on Saturday!
Nighttime temps are brisk but still well above average for this time
of year. OP doesn't know how good she has it. All the travelers I've
encountered lately have been incredibly grateful for the unseasonably
sunny weather.

Exactly! The OP is currently traveling in France and Spain DURING A HEATWAVE.