We have often longed to confine our adventures to touring Europe by day and have simple, ďMotel 6Ē nights. But alas, the evenings often bring their share of adventures with literally shocking plumbing, too much water on the bathroom floor, sheets 1-2í shorter than the beds, scant lighting and little or no heat in the winter. But we have finally found Motel 6, or at least its parent company, in some cities.
Accor Hotels is a massive chain of over 2000 hotels worldwide and amazingly now actually owns Motel 6 in the US. We stumbled into the 2-star Ibis Hotels, which are 1 of 12 different brands under Accor. We have stayed in several Ibis Hotels in Germany, France and Spain and love them. Yes, they are big chain, cookie-cutter rooms but they allow us to save our surprises for the daytime hours.
So far, all of the Ibis Hotels have had squeaky clean, tastefully done rooms with full sized linens on the beds. All the TVís have some news in English and almost all of the phones have been internet-connectable for us. And rare in Europe, they have authentic no-smoking rooms. They also understand the importance of soundproofing the rooms and having near-black-out curtains on the windows. Most of the rooms have been small but our first one in Dresden was very spacious, had a bank of windows allowing a flood of natural light and had a big bathtub.
The room rates have ranged from $50-75 for two which is very good price for centrally located hotels in big cities. (You can pay that much for a shared bathroom down the hall in so-so accommodation in large cities.) The rooms are often $5-10 less on weekends and increase 20-50% during events in cities that host big conventions. We have passed on the $6-9 per person breakfasts and have our own cereal and juice in the room. The prices are posted on the wall so you know exactly what you are paying. The reception folks always speak English, which allows us to phone in for reservations with confidence. And we can count on being able to send or receive a fax or someone being available to accept a Fed Ex package.
So, if you are headed to a big city in Europe, need a place to stay and donít need for it to reflect the local charm, try their website: www.accorhotels.com. You can also look at www.ibishotel.com but the Accor site gives you access to all 12 of their hotel brands with their price ranges. Their Etap hotel rooms are more efficient than the Ibis rooms and run around $30-40 for 2 people per night and their Formule1 are really efficient with a price tag of about $25 for 1-3 people with a sink in the room and shower and toilets down the hall. The Etap and Formule1 tend to be nearer the freeways so havenít been convenient for us to try. In some cities (like Barcelona) the Ibisís are also out of the central core but still accessible.
The Bratislava, Slovakia Ibis is an exception to the rule at Ibis and lacks the typically excellent soundproofing in the rooms. If you do stay there and are a light sleeper, insist on a room that is not on the tram tracks side of the building.
In France, there are a number of US-like motel chains situated near city freeway exits. Some of them are very stripped down, but clean and new like Hotel Premier Classe www.premiereclasse.fr. The B&B Hotel chain at www.hotelbb.com is comparable price-wise to Etap's but a little nicer. The Campanile's at www.campile.com are similar to Ibis's though often have outdoor room entrances like US motels rather than indoor corridors like hotels. The very cheapest chains often don't have phones in the room, but the next level up like the B&B Hotels do. And the great thing for us about these chains is that they almost always have new phone systems that allows us to both use PIN-type phone cards and to connect our laptop to the internet. We sometimes make a point to head to one of these hotels just for the opportunity to connect. Again, there generally isn't anything desirable about the freeway locations for us a bike tourists, but sometimes just finding a place to stay at night is all that matters and we enjoy the break from the unpredictable quality of the traditional lodging.