Friday, January 27, 2012

Zimmers and Hotels: What is the Difference?

Throughout this site, you’ll see that we’ve talked about zimmers, hotels, pensions, and apartments. It’s a good idea to be familiar with the differences between these different types of accommodation.

A hotel is a very common sight. Whether it’s a multistory complex in Vienna or a smaller multistory complex resort in the Austrian Alps, hotels offer an fairly impersonal but clean place to stay.

Depending on where you are and what time of year it is, hotels can cost anything from €30 to hundreds of Euros per night. Typically, hotels in ski resorts in the height of the winter and spring skiing season will cost between €500 to €2000 for five days, based on two sharing. A family of four generally won’t get a discount, as children over the age of five will generally require separate rooms, so this can make staying in a hotel very expensive.

If you have a large group, a chalet may be a better alternative. Prices for chalets can start from €600 for a four-person chalet, rising to €1,200 for a 10-person chalet. Prices during the ski season may be significantly higher depending on availability, though. These are often self-catering, so be prepared to cook.

We’ve found staying in a town a little distance away from the main ski slopes is a cheaper way to enjoy Austria’s skiing routes. Often, cross-country skiing can be a fun diversion, and the prices make it worth it. There are also usually busses that drive around picking people up, so you’ll have a short ride before you get to the slopes. That’s not a problem, because you’re paying so much less for the same amount of fun!

Zimmers are a lot more personal than a hotel and are often a free room in a house. The house might have several rooms that the owners rent out, but it’s usually an informal family-run business. Prices range widely, but you can get zimmers from €20 to €100 per room. This makes it a very cost-effective option when sleeping two people. However, zimmers are best in the summer, particularly when you’re looking for somewhere different to stay in a small town or village. For a family of four, a hotel may be a more reliable choice, but if you’re a seasoned traveler traveling with a partner, like I am, you will find zimmers offer that extra personal touch to Austria—and often a bigger breakfast.

Urban hotels, on the other hand, particularly in areas such as Salzburg and Vienna, offer good cheap rooms for the night, often with a reasonable breakfast, no matter what season it is. Just be aware of local festivities that may push up the price.

The personal nature of zimmers is their greatest strength, and we’ve often found out about little hidden gems of Austria through chatting with our hosts, something you don’t often get the chance to do in a hotel. We love Austrian zimmers, and with a little planning and booking, so will you.