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Looking for Small Guest Houses along the way

I'm wondering if there is a website or guidebook available that might show smaller guesthouses/frieden zimmer in the various cities of southern Germany? I'm planning a 9-10 trip with my mom and she would prefer to stay in the smaller "bed & Breakfast" type local places than typical hotels. I don't just want to "chance it" by waiting until we arrive to look for a place. Thus far I've been unable to find any good websites for these smaller places. Wondering if RS guidebook lists any such places? Thanks in advance for your help!

Posted by
1490 posts

You will find these smaller ones on booking platform HRS which is a German booking platform.

Posted by
27 posts

This looks very similar to hotels.com . I'm wondering how to find the local guesthouses instead of hotels.

Posted by
18297 posts

Over the last 20 years (11 trips, 24 weeks), I've stayed in a lot of accommodations of the type you describe. I couldn't find any of them listed on HRS, nor did I expect to. Booking platforms like HRS, Booking, etc take a big commission (often 15%, I understand) off the top, so small places like you want, which operate on a small margin, don't bother.

I've had the most luck looking on town website for this kind of place. I'm amazed at how many small towns have town websites. These websites are run by the tourism office and often charge the properties as nominal fee (50€/yr) just to be listed with an email address (no reservation service provided). You will often find these websites as www.[town_name}.de. Sometimes the URL has already been taken, and you will need to do a search.

Sometimes the website has an English language side; it it doesn't, look for Unterküfte (accommodations) or Übernachten (overnight). The website might have a separate part for tourism (Tourismus). You might need to learn a few simple German words like Doppelzimmer (double room) or Verzeichnis (listing). Even if the website is in German, the listing of accommodations will probably show URLs and these, for particular places, might be in English. True, some knowledge of German is helpful for finding these small places, but then it's also helpful for staying there. The people who run this kind of place, I've found, are the least likely to speak English.

Another resource for finding these places I have found recently is Google Maps. Accommodations are marked with a bed symbol, and clicking on them gets you additional information, often a URL. Another advantage of using Google Maps is that you can start you search near a source of transport (Bahnhof) or a bus stop.

BTW, guesthouses - Gästehäuser, or something similar - are a little more "formal" accommodations than Zimmer (rooms), which just tend to be where a home owner is offering one or a few rooms in his house. These don't have to be, as someone one called them, Frau Schmidt's spare room. They are often in the home of a larger family, that was remodeled when the kids move out, with rooms with en suite bathrooms. I've only stayed in a few such places with etagen baths (shared, on the hall).

And "frieden zimmer"? Frieden means peace, often associated with a cemetery (Friedhof). I think you mean Frei Zimmer or available room. Frei means available, not to be confused with our "free" (kostenlos in German). You often see it as a Privat Zimmer, a room in a private home.

Posted by
1754 posts

You will often find these places as www.[town_name}.de. Sometimes the URL has already been taken, and you will need to do a search.

Just give us a list of towns under consideration and we can provide better help.

Posted by
127 posts

I think the OP means 'Fremdenzimmer' (literally translated: rooms for strangers), an old-fashioned term seldom used nowadays. The modern equivalent is 'Gästezimmer' (rooms for guests).

Posted by
5456 posts

When we lived in Germany in the late 80s/early 90s, we would find Zimmer Frei signs and take advantage of those. That was before the internet. We loved staying in these private homes, even when the hosts didn't speak English and our German was minimal.

Posted by
4678 posts

B&B’s are all listed on booking platforms these days. The majority of options these days on HRS, Booking.com, etc. are not hotels. Welcome to the internet age. The town website as well is a good source, but you’ll need basic German.

Posted by
848 posts

OK my last suggestion as I gave you some of the best places in my region I know in another post/topic. Maybe it helps those on this Forum too. I don't want to sound flippant and rant, but sometimes I think I am helping someone write a book or advance their business posting here. I'm out for Mittagessen every Sunday and an overnight and more every month. I get my tips from word of mouth, experience and exploring TV, radio, books etc. For me a traditional place for overnight and good food is a big part of my travels. Times have changed a lot since the wall came down and the places you are searching for may be from that bygone era? Germany has changed a lot the last 30 years. Lately during the last 10 years big box chain grocery stores and bakeries are replacing many (most?) family Laden, Bäckerei und Metzgerei. Old folks are just retiring and passing on. Go on YouTube and search for Landgasthäuser Bayern. This is a BR Fernsehen/TV show. Find the region you want to visit and watch the program. The TV shows are in German, but you get a review of the area and can see the cooking and catch the name of the Landgasthäuser, Hotels and Restaurants. The actual BR Fernsehen website will have a written summary. Gastronomy is the primary focus of these programs. Some of these places will not have rooms and are for dinning only. If you find one you like call them. If they do not have a room, then tell them what you are looking for and ask for a recommendation. I am sure with their reputation they will not stear you wrong.

https://www.br.de/mediathek/video/landgasthaeuser-alpenkueche-04012019-chiemgau-av:5bec12857b4b6300180e805e
This is a good translation website: https://www.deepl.com/translator

Posted by
1490 posts

@ OP: Use link I posted and stay on German website. Then click on tab "Ferienwohnungen" and enter your destination. you can search for private rooms, small guesthouses etc.

hotels.com is US Expedia which has really no good reputation in Germany. They have also much less options in their database.

Posted by
1754 posts

B&B’s are all listed on booking platforms these days

I'm pretty sure that, unlike in Austria, where tourism plays a much bigger role, the majority of small pensions and B&B's in southern Germany are stil not listed on booking.com and HRS. The commission they would have to pay is way too high. Some have a website, but the best way to find that is through the website of the local tourist office.

Posted by
1760 posts

I am staying in a medium sized town this fall. There are NO places to stay listed on tripadvisor or booking.com. The town website lists several. One I inquired to ( TWICE ) did not respond. The second took a couple of weeks to respond and I will be staying there.

Posted by
18297 posts

@Markk, the link you posted is to the English language side of the HRS website, and there is no Ferienwohnungen tab. You have to go directly to www.hrs.de to get the FeWo tab.

My impression of what the OP wants is a place with a few rooms available in a home lived in by the host, where they personally tend to you and serve you breakfast in the morning. In the US we call that kind of a place a B&B (and they are very expensive), but that is not a unique description in Germany, because there, most places give you breakfast. In Germany, accommodations like that are called Privat Zimmer.

I've spent 25 nights in 10 such places in the past few years. Privat Zimmer are, in fact, becoming my favorite form of accommodations. I did searches on HRS for the actual places where I stayed, and not one of them was shown on HRS. In fact, in those towns, no accommodations of that type were shown on HRS at all.

Posted by
1490 posts

@ Lee: thanks for your view and shared experience.

In cases you will find nothing on HRS I would contact the local tourist offices.

Posted by
18297 posts

You might want to use HRS just as a second source of information, but I would always use the town website. Case in point, in 2017 I spent 9 nights in a Ferienwohnung in a small town west of Würzburg on the Main river. The town website lists 15 "hotels", 4 or 5 of which are also listed on HRS. And those listed on HRS are amongst the most expensive hotels in town.

We stayed in a Ferienwohnung we found on the town tourism website. There were 14 Ferienwohnungen shown on the town website; HRS doesn't show any Ferienwohnungen in the town.

So, if you want to look at HRS for comparison, OK, but don't skip the town tourism website. There are usually lots of accommodations in a town, but most of them don't want to do business with booking websites.

Posted by
5554 posts

Privatzimmer that include breakfast, like those Lee describes, have become fewer and fewer in recent years. Ferienwohnungen - self-catering accommodations with kitchen or kitchenette - tend to be much greater in number.

Boppard (Rhine town) has an online catalog of such places and serves as an example.

- 32 Ferienwohnung establishments
- 7 "Guesthouses and Bed/Breakfast" establishments - however, the largest two of these have 17 and 9 rooms (not the small, personal places Lee refers to.) That leaves just 5 smaller B-and-B-style places with 3-4 rooms each.

Private folks offering accommodations have found one-night stays and breakfast service a labor-intensive tradition they often don't want to deal with - so they prefer to give price incentives for 3+ night stays, and they equip their little places with a mini-fridge, a cooktop, and a Keurig machine and call it "done." (Well, some private Ferienwohnungen will include you in their early-morning bread delivery if you ask them to. But usually there's no food service.) "Fe-Wos" as Germans call them, though more numerous, are quite popular and generally hard to find last minute.

It used to be fairly easy to drop into town and look for "Zimmer Frei" signs but technology has had its way with this old-fashioned tradition as most people book places well in advance. Most owners do a deal with booking engines and commercial sites, and they tend to book up. But some of the places on the TI office website lists book only by e-mail or by phone, and these are the ones that tend to be available last-minute. If you want to just show up in town, a list of these places will give you a better chance of finding a bed.

Posted by
2982 posts

I will second Lee and Russ' advice.

I personally don't want to stay in Oma's spare room but if that's what you're looking for, you're not as likely to find it on a big website like booking.com. Google maps can surprisingly show you a lot of places that don't show up in those places, but you might at best get a phone number (no website) and the person on the other end of the phone may not speak English (but it's worth a try - also the words to reserve a room are relatively simple). But contacting the tourist information of a locality, where hopefully at least someone will speak English, is probably your best bet for the kind of accommodation you're looking for.

You can also wing it and go with whatever is available based on signs, but with an older relative in tow, this would make me nervous.

Posted by
430 posts

We winged it about 4 years ago in southern Germany in early October and had no troubles finding rooms in smaller hotels in smaller towns. It was a bit stressful at times, but we ended up in nice places for the whole 10 days. To make it easier on yourself - decide where you want to end up by early to midish afternoon. That will give yourself time to look around and/or go the TI center to check out what's available.