Bicycling historians know that hotel selection can make or break a trip. And it’s not about money. Money won’t necessarily buy you what you need. Fortunately, selecting a bicycle-friendly hotel is not complicated. Today, I offer a few tips based on my own experience.
The Ultimate Guide to Selecting a Bicycle-Friendly Hotel
I have bicycled Gettysburg National Military Park dozens of times. The first few times, I did “okay” selecting a hotel, but not great. I always enjoyed my trips, and yet I could have enjoyed them more if I had paid attention to the tips in this post about selecting a bicycle-friendly hotel.
What is a bicycle-friendly hotel?
First and foremost, a bicycle-friendly hotel tries to accommodate the unique needs of a bicycling tourist. What exactly that means will vary from one person to the next, but minimally, you want a hotel whose guest policies are clear but flexible. Like any good relationship, the key is good communication backed by follow-through.
Top 3 Considerations for Selecting a Bicycle-Friendly Hotel
1. Bicycle Storage Options
From a hotel management perspective, the bicycle is what makes a bicyclist different from other guests. Where can I store my bicycle, and how and when can I get to it?
The storage question is important mostly because you will want to protect your bicycle from being stolen. If you will lock your bicycle on or in your car, where is the hotel parking lot and is that well lit and safe? Will the hotel allow you to wheel your bicycle into your room? Does the hotel offer a secure storage room in which you can keep your bicycle?
I mention these questions, because you should not assume that a hotel can provide safe storage for your bicycle. For example, elegant inns with period furniture and carpeting may not want to risk allowing bicyclists to bring their bicycles indoors. On the other hand, large “budget” inns may have no issue whatsoever with your bringing your bicycle to your room, but will you have to carry it up three flights of outdoor stairs?
Even though there are many questions to consider on the topic of bicycle storage, it’s really not as complicated as it sounds. Do a little research on the internet, make a phone call, and use your best judgement.
2. Proximity to Park Roads
With respect to bicycling U.S. national military parks, a bicycle-friendly hotel is a hotel that is a close and safe bicycle ride to battlefield. Each of us may have very different definitions of “safe,” but for me it means that if I need to ride on a public road, there is a bicycle lane or a wide shoulder. Safe roads are ones where motor vehicles can easily see bicyclists, and vice versa. (For more details, please see my post, My Top 3 Safety Mistakes While Bicycling Gettysburg.)
Personally, I like to park my car in the hotel parking lot and leave it there. It’s so liberating not to have to hassle with a car trip before every bicycle ride, long or short. I use my car as “home base” for getting ready before a ride. It’s where I pump my tires, pack my panniers, and put on my helmet and gloves. So, if a hotel is within a safe riding distance from a battlefield, I am thrilled.
3. Mutual Respect and Understanding
When hotel staff and hotel guests share a mutual respect and understanding, all of your other bicycling needs will be met in much the same way as for other guests. Basically, bicycle-friendly hotels have all-around great customer service; and to enjoy that kind of service, it is important to be a great customer.
Hotel Etiquette for Bicyclists
This is common sense, but it bears mentioning:
- A bicyclist should take care not to track dirt or mud into the hotel. Take off your shoes and walk in your socks if you must.
- A bicyclist who is walking a bike indoors should always yield the elevator to other hotel guests. Some elevators are very small, and it’s not fair to other guests if you monopolize an entire elevator.
- Never ride your bicycle inside the hotel. Never, ever.
Hotel Amenities that Bicyclists Especially Appreciate
When you look for a hotel, be sure to read the online reviews. In addition to your normal preferences, you might want to give a fresh look at these amenities:
- Refrigerator – When I bicycle, I carry cold water, fruit, vegetables, and cheeses, all of which needs to be stored in a refrigerator the night before my morning ride.
- Microwave – If you plan on taking a long ride, you may want to come back to your hotel room, shower, and “crash.” But you’ll be hungry. If you pack some microwavable meals (and maybe some beers), you can have a relaxing evening without having to dress-up for a restaurant.
- All you can eat breakfast – Most hotels won’t mind if you take a piece of fruit and a bagel for a bicycling snack later in the morning.
Selecting a bicycle-friendly hotel is not difficult. The two most important things to consider are bicycle storage and proximity to the battlefield. If you plan ahead by knowing what to expect, you can find a way to make both of those considerations work for you. Lastly, please always respect hotel property, staff, and other guests.
And that about sums it up!