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Booked a hotel or rental property in Europe? It may not have air conditioning

July 24, 2022
7 min read
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Europe has seen record temperatures in recent weeks, with a heat wave that’s disrupted public transportation and fueled wildfires in multiple countries. The historic high temperatures have also put comfort on the mind of travelers planning visits to the region in future weeks, as many buildings in Europe — including plenty of hotels and rental properties — do not have air conditioning.

Officials in the United Kingdom approached the heat as an emergency situation, meeting ahead of the triple digit temperatures that reached London and other parts of the country this past week. Fueling their concerns was the fact that much of Europe does not ordinarily see temperatures this high.

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As few as 1% of homes in London have fixed air-conditioning units, according to an August 2021 study from the U.K. government.

Given the prevalence of homes listed on booking sites such as Airbnb, that means the lack of air conditioning can be a major factor for travelers visiting Europe during times of intense heat. Rental properties aren’t alone, though.

London Underground signage advising people not to travel in record-breaking heat on July 19 at Picadilly Station in Central London. (Photo by Kristian Buus/In Pictures/Getty Images)

Narrow your search

if you’ve got plans to visit Europe this summer, there are ways you can search a property’s cooling options and potentially make changes to your reservation. It’s not just Airbnb and other rental properties that may lack A/C. Hotels can be without central cooling, too.

I went to third-party booking site Booking.com for the purpose of getting a broader sense of the status of A/C at hotels in Europe. Filtering for hotels in the greater London area, I saw there were 1,037 properties.

(Screenshot from booking.com)

Related: 15 tips that will help you score the perfect Airbnb

There’s an option to whittle your search down, though, to only properties with air conditioning.

(Screenshot from booking.com)

Once I added that filter, the options dropped by about 37%, to 649 choices.

(Screenshot from booking.com)

In the greater Paris area, there were initially 1,689 hotels available.

(Screenshot from booking.com)

After selecting only properties with A/C, the options dropped by about a quarter.

(Screenshot from booking.com)

Even the large hotel brands — the ones at which you’d likely be staying if you’re booking a trip on points — have ways for you to see whether there’s A/C or not. I generally found this was easier to verify using an app on a smartphone or tablet.

Let’s check the Threadneedles Hotel, a beautiful property from Marriott’s Autograph Collection in central London.

(Screenshot from Marriott Bonvoy)

When you dive into the information about the property, you can see air conditioning is listed under “room amenities.”

(Screenshot from Marriott Bonvoy)

Similarly, you can go through this kind of process when using a rental property site like Airbnb. Searching a late August weekend in London, I started with just one filter on the search — one I always check — having the "entire place to yourself." The app displayed more than 1,000 results.

(Screenshot from Airbnb)

After asking the app to only show me properties with air conditioning though, the results dropped to 471.

(Screenshot from Airbnb)

Check property details

There are plenty of great properties in Europe – including in London – that make for fantastic accommodations during your trip but may not have A/C.

(Screenshot from Airbnb)

This nice-looking apartment is right in central London and would put you close to a lot of the city’s most popular sites. You can see, though, under "heating and cooling" on the property specifics, it only has heating.

(Screenshot from Airbnb)

The next question you might ask is if you have a property like this booked already, can you cancel and book something else? That depends. Airbnb has a range of cancellation policies owners can use, so it’s a matter of what your host allows.

(Screenshot from Airbnb)

At this particular property, you can get a full refund if you booked the stay within the past 48 hours. Then, you can get a 50% refund up until a week before your check-in date, after which you’ll forfeit the entire cost of the stay.

Here's a modern-looking flat in Chelsea in the Greater London area.

(Screenshot from Airbnb)

Again, for this one, though, you can see air conditioning is an excluded amenity.

(Screenshot from Airbnb)

Fortunately, if you had a stay for the weekend of August 19-21 booked and decide you need to make a change, this host has a pretty flexible policy. You can get a full refund up until 24 hours before you are scheduled to check in.

(Screenshot from Airbnb)

Similarly, if you booked a hotel and you find it has no air conditioning, check the type of reservation you booked. If you booked a prepaid, nonrefundable stay, you may have a hard time getting your money back. If you booked a standard reservation, though, there’s a good chance you can cancel at no cost if you’re still at least a few days away from your stay.

Even if you don’t technically have a nonrefundable reservation, if you’re staying at one of the major hotel chains and are concerned about not having A/C, it may be worth calling customer service to see if a representative can move you to another property in the city. This is by no means a guarantee you’ll be successful, but it is worth a try.

Related: 5 pitfalls to avoid when booking a hotel

A woman holds an umbrella to shield herself from the sun amid intense heat in London on July 18, 2022. (Photo by Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Bottom line

The heat wave in Europe has served as a reminder for travelers that not all buildings — rental properties and otherwise — are equipped with A/C.

On top of common-sense ways to keep yourself cool in a heat wave, and makeshift solutions like heading to a store to buy a fan for your accommodations, really diving into the details of a property and paying close attention to its cancellation policies could go a long way toward keeping you cool on your trip.

Featured image by Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases