One of the blogs I read everyday is called Upgrade: Travel Better. Yesterday's blog offered a very simple tip (that Mark read on another blog called bnet) that I wanted to pass along.
Some European hotels have a small device inside the front door that regulates electricity use in the room. You have to place your room key in that device in order to turn the electricity on. Sometimes you cannot run the air conditioning without your room key inserted. Though it might save the hotel a few bucks to keep the air conditioning turned off when you're out of your room, it's possible for a room to get so hot and steamy that it can't be cooled in time to get your eight hours of comfortable sleep.
So this is the really useful tip: you can put any card in that slot.. It doesn't have to be a room key. The "card reader" is unsophisticated. It cannot read the magnetic strip. It can only tell that a card is in there. So ... you can use a key from your last hotel, or your Costco card, or perhaps even a piece of plastic with no magnetic strip at all.
It would be interesting to get some clarification on that last question!
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Virtuoso travel agent consultant travel+tip electricity device air+conditioning European hotel