Hotels 101: A Short Explanation of Technical Holiday Terms

HB, VP, or AI? Queen- or king-size bed? Anyone booking a hotel is faced with the many technical terms of the hotel industry. I’ve summarized the most important keywords for you, including a brief explanation:


The half-board package consists of breakfast and dinner. Drinks at dinner are not included. If the drinks are included or there’s coffee and cake in the afternoon, providers might call it “half-board plus” or something similar.


Similar to half-board, drinks are also not included with full-board, but lunch is.


It includes all meals and some beverages that go with them. Foreign alcoholic drinks are often not included, because they’re very expensive due to high import duties and taxes. In “Ultra All-Inclusive” these foreign spirits are often included.

service hotel breakfast
Whether HB, FB, or AI, the service is always excellent


Side/Partial Sea View

This can range from a relatively unobstructed ocean view, which can be seen sitting sideways on the balcony, to a spot hidden behind trees, through which you can see pieces of the sea. If you’re unsure, search on review sites for hotel pictures taken by other travellers.

side sea view at hotel
Side sea view at the TUI BLUE Rocador

Economy Rooms/ promo offer rooms

The economy room/ promo offer room is cheaper than the standard room, so there must be a catch, right? An economy room or promo offer room doesn’t necessarily have to be worse or smaller than the hotel’s standard rooms. Unfortunately, it can also be a standard room in a less popular location, for instance, next to a ventilation shaft. It pays to invest in the room you want.


Bigger, better equipped, or better located than standard rooms, but also more expensive.

Junior Suite

A junior suite is larger and more comfortable than a standard room and has a living-room-like sitting area, which isn’t completely separate from the sleeping area. In contrast, a proper suite has a bedroom and separate living room.

Hotel junior suite
A junior suite offers plenty of space

Pool – fresh or salty

If the pool doesn’t explicitly state that it’s filled with salt water, it’s usually filled with fresh water.

Reserving lounge chairs

Reserving or saving lounge chairs is frowned upon and rightly annoying to other travellers. Hotels try to limit the reservation of the lounge chairs with signs or attentive staff, but this doesn’t always work. If you can’t find a chair, speak to the staff. If that doesn’t help, just look around. If there’s no holidaymaker in sight who could possibly belong to a given lounge chair, move their things somewhere clearly visible and claim your seat. I always do it this way, and never before has the “reserver” appeared.

Hotel lounger by the pool
The pool chairs look much nicer without “reservations”

Early check-in

Usually, the room can be occupied from 2:00 or 3:00 pm. With the fee-based early check-in, you get the luxury of checking in to your room earlier. It’s a great feature if you arrive early in the morning and want to shower or take a nap. Aside from early check-in, which you pay for and are therefore entitled to, there’s also the possibility to ask on-site if your room is already vacant and ready for you. But the chance this works out is entirely at the mercy and goodwill of the hotel.

Late Check-Out

Late check-out or late departure is sometimes free if the hotel isn’t too full. It’s worth asking at the front desk. Normally, you have to pay to use the room after check-out time (11:00 am or 12:00 pm). For some hotels, it’s possible to book an early arrival or late departure when making a reservation. This is convenient for people whose flight times don’t match check-in and check-out times. For ideas on how to spend your time after check-out, you can read our 10 tips.

check-in hotel
Whether early check-in or late check-out, our staff are there for you

Turn-down service

Turn-down service is something you’ll find in more upscale hotels. In the early evening, room service comes in and gets the room ready for the night. The duvet is pulled back, the pillows are fluffed, a goodnight snack is placed, the room is tidied up again, and the curtains are drawn.

turn-down service
With turn-down service, there’s a goodnight snack!


The minibar is a small refrigerator that’s filled with drinks and snacks. These are chargeable, to be paid upon departure. In some all-inclusive hotels, some or all of the drinks in the minibar are included. Can I use the minibar for my own drinks and snacks? The hotels don’t like this and some hotels even charge a fine if you misuse the minibar.

Appropriate clothing

Even when you’re on holiday and the thermometer reads 35 degrees Celsius, ribbed undershirts, shower shoes, and short swim shorts or a bikini with a mesh shirt are inappropriate at dinner. Some hotels turn guests away at the restaurant entrance if they’re not properly dressed. Some hotels insist on long pants and closed-toe shoes for men, while others consider knee-length Bermudas okay. Women generally have more freedom in choosing clothes here. In case of doubt, you should inquire in advance or read exactly what the dress code is in the hotel description.

dress code in the hotel restaurant
It doesn’t always have to be so fancy

Leaving Tips

You might think that everyone should be happy about tipping. But in some countries, such as Japan, tipping can be seen as an insult. In others, such as the USA, the wages of waiters are so low that they depend on tips. You should inform yourself with a guidebook, the internet, or on-site about the customs in the country when it comes to tipping. If you don’t have the local currency, no problem: employees collect euro, franc, and pound coins and exchange them for a ticket that someone can convert into the national currency.

Select your room

At some hotels, such as the TUI BLUE hotels, you can choose a specific room prior to arrival for a fee. On an interactive map, such as here, you can filter for location, view, and other criteria and reserve a specific room number. So you secure a room with an unobstructed sea view or close proximity to the restaurant.

Hotel rooms tui blue sarigerme park
Your next room at the TUI BLUE Sarigerme Park?


If you’ve booked a holiday package, a transfer from the airport to the hotel is usually included. Look closely at the offers if a transfer is important to you. At the airport, a representative of the tour operator or the hotel will be waiting for you and will explain which bus you have to take, or actually accompany you to the vehicle.

Shuttle bus to the hotel
TUI bus to the hotel

Direct booking

If you book directly with the hotel, either by phone or on the hotel’s website, this is called direct booking. Hotels love direct bookings, since they have to pay a commission of about 15% per booking to external providers like or Expedia. Direct bookings can be rewarded by the hotels with discounts, free perks, or something similar.

King/Queen-size beds

King-size beds are common in the United States. In Europe, these beds have dimensions from 180 x 200 cm to 200 x 200 cm. Most of the time, there’s a single, continuous mattress, but sometimes there are two separate ones in a bed frame, which can be comfortable when your bedmate is tossing and turning. Queen-size beds are 140 to 160 cm wide and are also called French beds. The term “twin bed” refers to two single beds.

hotel beds kingsize queensize
A king-size bed in one of our suites

Taking “Souvenirs”

The bathrobe with the logo of the hotel is so great, the towels are so fluffy, and the toiletries in the bathroom smell wonderful. They’d make great souvenirs. But taking them with you is theft. You can often buy the bathrobe or other hotel items at the front desk. With the toiletries, one has to make a distinction: a used toothbrush or disposable razor can be tossed in your bag without hesitation. Taking unopened bottles of shampoo or shower gel, however, is stealing. but let’s be honest: Who hasn’t taken a little bottle from a hotel bathroom? They fill well and are great for hand luggage on air travel. At some hotels, especially around the Persian Gulf, your credit card will be charged a security deposit, which will be released after a quick check at check-out if you haven’t taken anything.

bathroom with amenities hotel
So many nice things, but very little you can take home

House ban

Yes, even in the hotel, you can get banned. The hotel reserves the right to throw out anyone who behaves blatantly wrong and can put them on a blacklist. Before this happens, you have to do something really negative: shouting for hours, being drunk in the pool, fighting, and other behaviors we know too well from football matches and folk festivals. Better to maintain a bit of composure and spend the whole holiday in the hotel!

Still have questions? Feel free to leave it in the comments!

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