Advice and legal information about hotels in Germany
Here you can find some practical advice as well as important legal information about hotels in Germany.
Update : Nov 2018
- German cities have the right to charge visitors’ tax. If and how much they charge is based on the city.
- German hotels are verified and approved by the association of hotels, and classified into five categories ranging from 1 to 5 stars. Every hotel must display their rates (VAT included)for each room.
- You can ask any Tourist Information Office or Booking Agency to book your room if you do not want to do so yourself. Another option is to book via an online booking agency. This will often allow you to access all the necessary information in your own language.
- Depending on the city and region, it is a good idea to make an advanced booking if you intend to travel during the high tourist season, i.e. from the beginning of July to the end of August.
Before leaving home
- If you have booked a room in a hotel and the hotel keeper confirms your booking, both parties are bound to the contract. The hotel keeper is not allowed to give your room away unless you agree.
- There is no general rule concerning arrival times. Some hotels have limited arrival times, while others offer the possibility of arriving at any time of day (24 hour reception). Please note: If you are unable to arrive within the specified arrival times, you should contact the hotel as soon as possible in order to find a solution.
- The hotel keeper can be held accountable if the room is given to another person or if the hotel is overbooked. For example, the hotel will have to compensate you for your journey home or for the higher prices of another hotel room.
- If you have to cancel your booking, you should try to reach an agreement with the hotel keeper. Once you have booked a room, you are generally obliged to pay for it. If you choose otherwise, you will have to pay a cancellation fee, called “Stornogebühr”: the price for the hotel room minus the saved expenses by the hotel (e.g. for not having used the bed sheets, etc). It is quite possible that you will be asked to pay up to 80 % of the room price.
- If you have to cancel your booking, you should also inform the hotel keeper as early as possible so that they can offer the room to another person. In the event that the room is rebooked by another guest, you will not have to pay anything.
- As a general rule, you should check out of your hotel by the end of the morning unless stated otherwise by the hotel.
What if the hotel fails to meet your expectations upon arrival?
- If you booked with the hotel directly and were provided with all the necessary information (e.g. by a website, brochures, etc.), you can ask for compensation (e.g. for a reduction of the price to be paid) on the basis of misleading advertising.
- If you booked a package travel through a travel agency, the agent’s responsibility is defined by the German civil code (§§ 651a-651m BGB). This clause entitles you to compensation or a stay elsewhere corresponding to the one that you originally booked. In this situation, you should direct your complaints to the travel agent and not to the hotel keeper. Please note: The travel agency is only responsible if the booking includes at least two elements, such as transport and hotel and/or another tourist service.
- It is important to discuss any problems that arise during your stay with the travel guides so that they can attempt to find a solution to your particular problem. If you wait until after the trip to broach your complaint, you will lose your right to compensation.
I am a victim of a theft in the hotel or its surroundings, what can I do?
- The hotel keeper is responsible for any theft or damage to the guests’ possessions if the incident occurs inside the hotel or in the hotel car park (unless he can prove that it is the customer’s fault or “force majeure”). In order to get compensation, the consumer should provide evidence that indicates the value of the stolen or damaged possessions.
- However, the compensation paid by the hotel keeper is limited to 100 times the cost of a night’s stay for a theft occurring inside the hotel, or should be between 600 € (if the damage is at least 600 €, of course) and 3500 €. This limitation does not apply when the harm results from hotel error (§ 702 II BGB), however, the consumer must be able to prove that the hotel was at fault.
- “Exclusion notices” announcing that the hotel keeper is not responsible in case of theft or damage have no validity and cannot be used to argue against your claim.
- Tip: In the event of a theft, report it to the management of the hotel immediately, and ask for a statement confirming the theft. Once this is done, go to the nearest police station and lodge a complaint. Do not wait until you get back to your home country to do this!
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