The Best of Europe in 21 Days tour has a line item under physical demands “ be content with the possibility of sharing bathroom facilities at one hotel during this tour.” Can anyone share their experiences where your overnight stay had a community bathroom? Did you have to shower in unisex facilities? We are looking at this tour as a potential trip for us, but this item may be a deal breaker. Hoping that maybe times have changed and the print is outdated.
They are just like in your home - down the hall, for one person, and a lock on the door. In the olden days of Europe on $5 a Day, all the rooms in the books were with bath down the hall.
It is a private bath, down the hall, with a lock, BUT you may have to wait.
There is only one hotel on the 21 Day Best of Europe where a shared bath is a "possibility". If the tour stays in Stechelberg then those who stay in the Annex across the road have shared bath facilities. All the single supplement folks are housed there. The shared bath was out of my comfort zone and I was not looking forward to it but it was fine. I understood that there are some tour dates that stay up in Muerren and that hotel has all en suite accommodations. I have no idea what the hotel plans are for 2022.
I was on the ground floor along with 3 couples and the one other single all from my group. There was a separate women's toilet cubicle, separate men's toilet cubicle and separate shower room (all single occupancy, all with locking doors). I showered in the late afternoon both days we were there and never saw another person go into the shower. The toilet was always free when I needed it but we were gone for the full day we were in the area. There was a sink in my room.
There were other couples in our group who were in the main building who had rooms with en suite bath facilities. We also had several folks upstairs in the annex building from our group who had the shared bath situation upstairs. They also had balconies which were fabulous but invited everyone up for wine, snacks and views.
I would absolutely NOT let this stop you from taking this tour. I've done 11 Rick tours and 11 tours with Road Scholar (6 in Europe) and this was the best of the best. It is 2 nights out of 20 nights that you MIGHT get into a shared bath situation. I'd pack flipflops for the shower and go for it.
Editing to add: Here is a link to the hotel's home page. The views are spectacular and yes, that is the balcony on which I drank wine with my tour mates, lol!!
debandjohn, you can always call the tour office and ask questions like these. I was told this was the one of the most common questions they get.
PS this is the way most small hotels were back in the day. No group showers, however.
Stephen - Thank you. I understand what you are saying, but in my home I am familiar with the people using the facilities.
Frank - yes the waiting factor was another ? How can a group traveling together all get prepared to leave in the am with just 1 bath.
Pam - thank you for sharing your experience. I guess there is a part of us that feels if we could choose our room type based on the pricing ….going into the tour paying a set amount and not knowing what grade of accommodations you’ll be staying in can make you somewhat uneasy. I am comforted to hear you had a great trip and we will continue to discuss this issue before we make a decision.
When I was a kid my father was stationed in Europe, 1955-1960. Almost every hotel we stayed in had bathrooms down the halls. didn't think anything of it at the time, completely like home. Mom let us kids know when the bath or shower was available and stood sentry duty. I did not encounter en suite baths till we returned to the States.
I got some advice for someone on my Scotland tour: If you're on a floor with shared facilities, a great conversation starter is asking the rest of your group when folks prefer to bathe. Easy to set up a rough schedule.
Thank you Stan. I was just thinking with what Pam said, maybe they would have specific hotels already identified when the trip posts and we could call and inquire.
You all are so helpful. Wow Pam, those pictures are beautiful!
TOTALLY, agree with Pam and Steven on this. Not something you're inherently comfortable with upon hearing about it for the first time, but when you think about it, it really should not be an issue. I've been fortunate to travel to about 10 different EU countries over the last 10 years or so (once for almost four months), and I've done this 2 times before Covid and "yes" there were some "qualms" about it upon first reflection, but as others have stated, you get there, you do what you have to do, and you move along. It is, in my opinion, very inconsequential. I'm an early riser, so I was in and out before 6:30 with shower, shave, etc. The first time I did it was at a hotel five minutes from the Stazione Centrale in Milan, Italy, when I was about 48 - 49 years old. Until that time, I'd always had a "private bath." But at that time, I had arrived at 6:00 PM by train and was leaving the next day at 6:30AM. So I figured, 'what the heck, 12 hours isn't going to kill me.' Everything went off just fine. Just lock the door, same as at home. If you're someone that requires an hour in the bathroom in the morning to get ready for a day of sight seeing in a foreign country, where you're likely to never see anyone you meet that day again, then maybe it's not for you . . . .
Everyone has different expectations and experiences in traveling abroad. And sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones in order to fully grasp of everything the world has to offer us. IMHO, it would be a shame if you missed, say, the Grand Canal of Venice, or the Arch d'Triumphe, or El Prado Museum in Madrid, or picnic at Il Campo in Sienna, just because you had to use a "public" bath five minutes after someone had used it.
Best of luck,
The only time in 10 tours that we had a shared bath situation was on the Scandinavian tour. We stayed in a lovely B&B 2nights on Aero island. On the level we were on there were three rooms sharing two full bathrooms. And incidentally, each of the rooms were provided with clean white terry cloth robes so we could modestly take the twenty steps across the hall. Never had to wait. On the upper level
two couples shared one bathroom. I believe other rooms in the building were en suite.
In order to experience this wonderful little island it was necessary to have this situation because there are really no regular hotels there.
When I stay in small hotels and Pensionen in Germany, if given a choice, I choose that room with the WC "down the hall. " .....obviously. These still exist in Germany.
It all depends, there were times the WC was just opposite of my single room or just next door instead of literally "down the hall" The shower is in the same unit as the toilet. If your room isn't en suite, you have a sink Bottom line...no problems at all.
It's much easier to install a shower unit than to have a toilet installed or both.
I have to wonder how many of you would feel comfortable sharing toilet and showers with strangers in the age of Covid?
debandjohn, it's not a whole group sharing one bath. We've taken this tour twice. Both times my husband and I were in the main building, not the annex. The first trip, we shared a bathroom with three other rooms, each of which had, if I recall, one person. We were courteous, and there was never any problem.
The second time Stan and I had a private bathroom, although at one point when I needed to use it, and he was showering, I slipped down the hall and used the "shared" bathroom.
I don't know that I've ever lived in a house with more than one bathroom, so to me it's no big deal. Clean up after yourself, and trust that others will do the same.
I have to wonder how many of you would feel comfortable sharing toilet and showers with strangers in the age of Covid?
Frank II, are strangers more likely than acquaintances to have Covid? For me the answer is still: be courteous, clean up after yourself, and trust that others will do so as well. We're in public bathrooms regularly, out and about running errands, for example. I can't drive home 30 miles to use the toilet when I'm grocery shopping it Tulsa, or going to yoga class. And these folks are talking about a 21 day tour, with a fair amount of bus time, shared with probably 20 other people.
I hope this doesn't sound snarky; I truly don't mean it to. But I've never really understood people cancelling a trip - in Covid or any other time - because there's a possibility they might have to share a bathroom. All the rest stops, every two hours or so by European rules, involve shared bathrooms. And shared eating areas.
I guess it what you are used to doing perhaps as a child. The grandparents farm in Nebraska had an outhouse used by everyone. Smelled better in the winter than the summer. There was no privacy in boot camp at Ft. Bragg in '67. The college dorm in early 60s was all common baths and showers. It was not a big deal then and 60 years later it is about the same. You use what you have. Remember the studies that show the kitchen sink has more germs than the average bathroom.
Whenever we travel I wear a baggy t-shirt and dark loose bottoms to sleep in. Does not matter if we have an en suite bathroom or one down the hallway. The idea is you are decently dressed in case of an emergency. I always want to be able to leave my room quickly. No white terry bathrobe for me. The only thing is be quick and clean up when using the bathroom or shower. Just plain courtesy. Don’t let this cause a trip cancellation.
debandjohn, I totally understand your concern. As others have mentioned, yes, this use to be the norm in Europe but not so much now. I once, in Greece stayed in a pension where the bath and shower were not only "down the hall" but were also on another floor!! All that was fine when I was in my 20's with very little money to upgrade. However, I'm not in my 20's any longer, far from it, and make at least one or two trips to the bathroom during the night. At my age, I don't want to do this by going down the hall. That said, I guess I could put up with it if it was the only way to see the sights during the tour you mentioned and if it was only for 1 or 2 nights. I would still go on the tour and the experience of a shared bath will become fodder for great stories.
There are only 2-3 tours that have this rare possibility. And they do disclose it. It is not a thing Rick is trying to force on people but a reality of limited accommodations in the area. Would I like it, no. I have 4 bathrooms in my house- no waiting ever for me but I'm sure I could adapt for 1-2 nights if I chose those tours. I also believe they have sinks in the room--so face washing, shaving, brushing teeth, etc is possible in room and thus limits the time in the shared space (and hopefully everyone gets that concept and understands it isn't time for a 30 min relaxing shower).
I used to opt for rooms without bath all the time because the savings were significant, but like Lisa, I'm older now and when traveling solo will not take a room without a private bath. However, on a 2-day tour in Romania we stayed in a small guest house where 3 rooms shared 2 baths down the hall. It worked out fine, and that tour was great. I'm so glad I didn't reject that tour because of the bathroom arrangements.
As already mentioned, it is usual for rooms without private bath to have a lavatory (sink) and a mirror, so some activities (brushing teeth, washing face, putting on make-up, fixing hair) can be accomplished in your own room. This significantly reduces the amount of traffic in and out of the shared bathrooms.
We took that tour and shared a bathroom in the annex.
Never saw another using it. It was always available and clean. I believe that was the only hotel where some of us had the honor! We had a sink in our room and a nice balcony. The tour was wonderful.
I do all the trip planning, so when we walk into a hotel room with en suite bath, my husband is surprised. Most hotels have both options, so the "down the hall" toilets and showers are seldom occupied. They are NOT "community bathrooms" like in college -- separate lockable rooms with one toilet or shower.
It's 2021 and shared toilets and showers in hotels are extremely rare these days. This may have been a charming change for post-war middle-class Boomers back in the 1970s, but not so much today.
The no-grumps policy is put to the test when one is relegated to a room looking on an air shaft with a WC down the hall, while others have the en suite with the view.
I'm faced with this yearly, as we belong to an organization in France that meets annually to tramp through fields, caves, archaeological sites and we often stay in inexpensive study centers for school groups with lumpy cot beds and very rudimentary facilities, some not divided by gender, while one was seatless. This is not my idea of comfort. I thought it was because I'm a spoiled American, but I noticed that as we age, many of the French trailing spouses feel the same. But just like a RS tour, we're so attached to the activities and others we've known for decades, that even this spoiled American--who dislikes the lack of privacy-- muddles through and enjoys the yearly encounter.
Part of me says "good grief" for the price of that tour, but the other says, take a risk and go. Don't let the slight possibility of two nights, maybe only a shower, or two and trips to the john stop you from a wonderful experience.
I have to wonder how many of you would feel comfortable sharing toilet
and showers with strangers in the age of Covid?
If you are comfortable sharing a tour bus, toilet and showers should not be an issue.
It’s been years since we stayed anywhere where our bathroom was shared, down the hall. As noted above, there’s a lock, so it is private, while you’re in there. Kind of like facilities on the airplane, on the way over. We had the option of a shared bathroom just 2 years ago in Greece, but opted instead for a room with its own facilities.
Definitely contact the Rick Steves office and find out precisely what hotel, in what location, might have that arrangement. They can let you know why the hotel is that way (old design, not updated but the only game in town?), and how many sleeping rooms, and people, are sharing how many bathrooms.
If that’s the only way to get a room in one place (just one, right?) on the tour, but the destination is special, maybe it’s a reasonable arrangement, and won’t be a deal-breaker.
We often stay in places with shared faciliteis in Europe, and the last tiem we were in NYC for that matter!
You will almost always have a sink in the bedroom - so the 'getting ready' in the morning is not really an issue. In fact in can be faster because there maybe more than one bathroom - which is one more than any ensuite I 've ever stayed in
I would not accept a room with shared bath down the hall during this COVID pandemic.
While the main message early on was "Don't worry about a mask, sanitize everything", as we have learned about the disease, it has become clear that the primary means of transmission is airborne, and the presence of Covid on surfaces and items has been shown to not be a significant source of transmission. Main reason why you see the emphasis on sanitization diminish.
If you are willing to risk an international trip, ride in a bus for hours, and eat with your tour group in a restaurant, a shared bath should be the least of your concerns as related to Covid.
Myself, as we have gotten older, we tend to opt for ensuite, but have no problem if the right place has "one down the hall", we traveled like that for years due to budget. But being older, the need to "go" during the night is more prevalent, I don't pack a robe or wear pajamas, so even down the hall is a chore. Of course being a guy, and a sink in the room...
So live a little, don't let one small thing be a deal breaker, if so, then re-think a group tour all together, there will be lots of things worse than a bathroom down the hall I am sure.
Now I could tell you a really funny story about my wife and a bathroom down the hall in Athens......
debandjohn, I linked the hotel website because the scenery is just jaw-dropping. It's at the very end of the Lauterbrunnen Valley and just about 2 minutes from the Schilthornbahn lift that goes to the top of the Schilthorn so very convenient for that. It's also less than 2 miles from Trummelbach Falls.
In fact, even though I'd hiked Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg that day, our guide stopped the bus at Trummelbach for us to visit and suggested anyone that wanted to could walk back to the hotel on the well used walking path. I walked back along a beautiful, lively, rock-clanking river and it was so worth it! As I crossed over the bridge and started toward Stechelberg along the path thru the small fields I got the life scared out of me when I heard a big "whump" and one of those base jumpers in a flying squirrel suit deployed his chute right over me. I thought it was just me and the cows, lol!!
In spite of the shared bath, this location was just amazing. I would love to go back and explore out beyond the back of this hotel some day. So gorgeous. I even specifically did the Germany, Austria, Switzerland tour because it spent 3 nights in this area, staying in Muerren.
I'd also like to say that I probably sound like a shill for Rick's tours, particularly this one, lol. I am a solo traveler and learned/experienced SO much on this trip. I loved my guide (Dimitri!) and am still in touch with some of my tour friends after 7 years. I love it when Jane remarks that they took this trip twice...it's something I've considered because you just see blockbuster sights every day!
BTW, if you do take this tour take the guide up on anything optional they offer. In some of the free time the guide might offer an extra dinner, wine tasting, hike, etc. This is not like tour companies who offer "optional" expensive tours within the tour to see the good stuff. The good stuff is included but sometimes the guide will say....I can arrange for an extra dinner here which will make it easier for us to do site XX. You can meet us in front of XX or you can meet meet me at such and such a time and we'll go eat and then go to XX. Well worth whatever they suggest - extra restaurants are always small local places!
I'll shut up now.....
The two Pensionen I stay at in Munich and Berlin, both 2 star, have no en suite rooms...good. The WC is "down the hall, so is the shower, just as I experienced this since the 1970s. Now, of course, given that you can guess who the guests are. overwhelmingly or exclusively.
In the Berlin Pension no Americans stay there, it's 99.8% German, who are used to non-en suite rooms. In the Munich Pension I have seen Americans there once in a blue moon but still overwhelmingly German, since that place does accepts credit card payment which the Berlin Pension does not accept.
When I get back next summer with my CDC card and mask, both Munich and Berlin are part of the itinerary and I'll be staying at both these Pensionen....no problems. I don't expect to see any Americans at either Pension.
as you are looking at the photos of the bedrooms, only the ones which include "Etagendusche/WC" have the shower and toilet shared. "Etagendusche/WC" means shower/toilet for the floor.
Has no one mentioned that German toilets have a little shelf so you can examine your stools?
WOW…..what a helpful bunch! Thank you so much to each of you for your input. I am a once a night voider and leaving my room in pjs 😳
There were many comments regarding the long bus rides…….I just assumed there was a bathroom on the bus, but I will have my clothes on as I make my way down the aisle 😜, so this wasn’t an issue for me.
Has no one mentioned that German toilets have a little shelf so you can examine your stools?
you mean Dutch?
I just assumed there was a bathroom on the bus
There usually is, but really just for emergencies. Bus drivers in Europe are required to stop every 2 hours (EDIT: for rest and safety), and these stops, or more frequent depending on the tour itinerary, will include opportunities for photos, toilets, snacks, etc. Usually in a nice place interesting to the participants.
Thank you Nigel….I did not know about the every 2 hour mandate.
The driver is also the one who has to clean the on board toilet and that is not their favorite thing to do. It’s not emptied until they return to their home garage at the end of the trip so that’s why only emergency use is encouraged.
There are plenty of comfort stops and TBH this is such a busy tour sometimes bus time was good.
At the beginning of the trip start hoarding your Euro change to use for the bathrooms. Many cost .50€ to get in but sometimes give you a coupon for use in the store. An easy way to make friends on the tour is to have a handful of change to share at critical moments, hahaha!! Both Deb AND John need change on them.
Those onboard toilets also smell, and they can't dump them every day. But, by all means, if you need it, you need it.