Don't Expect To Find These Common Things At An Airbnb In Europe

Booking an Airbnb offers a taste of everyday life in your destination in a way that most hotels lack. You can see what homes really look like in a new place and how they differ from what you're used to in your country.

This is particularly true when visiting Europe. While accommodations can vary around the continent, a few common features might surprise tourists from other regions. For instance, bidets are a normal fixture in bathrooms in some Southern European countries, including Spain, Italy, and Portugal. Up north, you might find warming racks that keep your bath towels toasty in the winter. And if you head to the kitchen in a European Airbnb, you'll likely find an electric kettle so you can brew a quick cup of tea whenever you want.

However, you might also be surprised to find a few features and items missing from your Airbnb that you're used to having around. Knowing what to expect can prevent disappointment during your European getaway — and help you live more like a local during your stay.

Climate control looks different in European Airbnbs

Air conditioning is a must in countries like the U.S., especially when the temperatures climb in the summer. In Europe, the situation is a totally different story. According to a 2018 report by the International Energy Agency, fewer than 10% of European homes were equipped with air conditioning. All across the continent, you may struggle to find Airbnbs with A.C. units, and central air conditioning is especially rare.

Heating, too, can be uncommon in certain countries, such as Portugal. This might not seem like a problem in areas where winters are mild, but in some cases, it can create the perfect conditions for humidity and mold. If you find yourself in a heatless Airbnb during the winter, ask your host how to air out the property to avoid dampness.

Keep in mind windows also rarely come with screen covers in European homes. If you plan to rely on your Airbnb's windows for some fresh air, note that insects may find their way inside.

The sun and wind are your clothes dryer

One of the perks of staying in an Airbnb instead of a hotel is the laundry facilities. Generally, you can expect an Airbnb to have everything you need to wash your clothes, without having to pay an extra fee or lug your items to the laundromat. This is true in many European accommodations, too, with the exception of clothes dryers.

In Europe, dryers aren't the norm for several reasons. First, European dryers often aren't as quick and effective as American ones. Usually, it's more practical to let garments air-dry rather than have them tumble around inside an appliance for hours. Ruth Schwartz Cowan, a history and sociology of science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, also told Business Insider that European houses are often too old or small (or both) to accommodate a vented dryer. And even in Airbnbs that could fit a clothes dryer, you might not find one for economical or environmental reasons.

If your Airbnb doesn't list a dryer as one of its amenities, look for a drying rack or outdoor clothesline instead. Hang your laundry on a sunny day and let the air do the drying.

Don't expect to find washcloths in your accommodation

Your Airbnb host told you that towels would be supplied as part of your booking, but you've looked high and low in the property and can't seem to locate a single washcloth. Before you complain about the oversight, know that washcloths and small facial towels aren't typically offered in European accommodations.

A traveler took to Reddit to ask about the cultural difference, and users responded by explaining that a washcloth is often viewed as a personal item in Europe. Therefore, it's customary to bring your own small towel during a trip, rather than use one that somebody else has scrubbed their body with before you. If you're packing light and don't have space for washcloths, ask your Airbnb host if they have a clean one you can borrow. Or, head to a drugstore in your destination and look for a loofah or cloth glove meant for use in the shower. There is also an unspoken towel rule to know about before you visit Italy.

Your shower might not be fully enclosed

A lot of top-notch hotels offer large bathtubs and artistically designed showers. Airbnbs? Not so much. Many Airbnbs, along with average homes, in Europe are equipped with no-frills tubs or shower stalls, and often, they're not even fully enclosed. Instead of a long shower curtain or a door that shuts completely, you may find swinging glass doors that only partially close. Even more baffling, some European Airbnbs only come with a tiny barrier next to the showerhead to keep water from spraying everywhere.

After a long and thorough washing in one of these European bathrooms, you might find that you're not the only thing that got clean — the floor got a good rinse too. If there's a drain, assume the water will eventually trickle into the opening. Alternatively, the floor may be slanted just enough for the water to flow back into the shower. Otherwise, keep a bathmat nearby to catch any stray droplets, and if your Airbnb comes with a squeegee, be sure to use it regularly to keep the floor dry.

Kitchen sinks are missing one common American feature

In the U.S., it's not unusual to throw your food scraps in the sink, flip a switch, and let the garbage disposal take care of the rest. However, don't expect to find a similar fixture when staying at an Airbnb in Europe. In-sink garbage disposals are nearly unheard of and not just because of cultural differences — the devices are banned in the majority of countries in the European Union due to their impact on sewage systems.

Chances are, your Airbnb will have a metal cover or basket placed over the kitchen drain to prevent debris from going down the pipes. After cooking, remove the cover and empty the scraps into a trash can. Some cities in Europe ask residents to separate food waste from other trash, so be sure to follow these rules if your host instructs you to. And whatever you do, don't rinse large food scraps down the drain.