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I have booked a hotel room in Germany.

On the reservation confirmation, it says:

Room category: 1 × French bed room non-smoking

What is a French bed room?

  • 3
    Does it say "French bedroom" anywhere on your confirmation, or only "French bed"? (I'd read the confirmation as "Room with a French bed", not "French bedroom".) Otherwise, you might want to update the title of your question. – npl Jul 3 '18 at 15:50
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    "French bed" is a common term in German for a 140x200 (cm) bed. "French bedroom", on the other side, isn't a common term AFAIK. But I agree it is misleading if you don't know the term "French bed". – npl Jul 3 '18 at 16:04
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    Un dortoir Français! – bipll Jul 3 '18 at 19:57
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    @npl or an extremely small room where it's almost impossible to even walk around in because there's simply no space left after they put in a bed. Most extreme example I've seen had a television bolted to the wall and the bathroom door removed because it couldn't swing open, to get into the shower you had to sit on the toilet, swing around, and stand up again. – jwenting Jul 4 '18 at 13:25
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    I'm Germand and I have never heard of a 'French bed' - must be a regional thing. – Andreas Grapentin Jul 5 '18 at 11:20
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German double beds are usually equipped with two mattresses. A 'French bed' (französisches Bett), on the other hand, is a bed wide enough for two persons, but equipped only with one mattress.

They are usually narrower than regular double beds, the most common width is 140cm, but not necessarily. If you look into bed shops with a wider selection of products, you can get 120, 140, 160 and 180cm-wide French beds:

Die Breiten variieren von 1,20 bis 1,80 m.

The name allegedly comes from the 'cosier' way French people tend to spend their night. German partners obviously rather stick to 'mine and thine' sides of the bed, with a clear separation line for extra protection.

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    Having slept for years in actual French-style beds I can categorically state that they are not cosier than proper German beds. ;-) Heinrich Heine famously deplores the low quality of French-style bedding. – Konrad Rudolph Jul 3 '18 at 20:34
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    Here in the UK, some hotels offering double beds (beds for two sleeping together) often use the German style. Not because for comfort, it's because they can easily separate the beds and use the room as a "twin" room instead (two separated single beds). I don't know whether German hotels do this or not. Doing this in the UK (German style) is seen as being a bit cheap by English people, who are used to the French style of double beds. – Snow Jul 4 '18 at 10:33
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    120 and 140 are technically single person beds, 160 and up are dual beds with single mattresses. – jwenting Jul 4 '18 at 13:26
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    @jwenting No. Not even the Germans have a strict and technical definition of the distinction between single and double beds based on the width. If we look at the 'common sizes' table in the Wikipedia article, beds up to 120cm are usually considered single bed, while beds 140cm wide or wider are usually considered double beds. If you however look at which bed sizes are commonly available to buy, a single bed will rarely be wider than 90cm and a double bed rarely narrower than 140cm. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jul 4 '18 at 15:23
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    @jwenting Depends very much on where you are. Here in Scandinavia, for example, a 140 bed (which would generally be called queen-size here) would not generally be marketed as a single bed in a furniture store, but as a double bed. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 5 '18 at 8:33
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Some German hotels use this term to refer to a room with a double bed of standard size - 140cm wide. Essentially, the bed sleeps 2 and many people have this size in their homes, but people used to queen- or king-sized beds may find the bed small. It doesn't imply a particular style of decor or arrangement of bedding.

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    To back this up: conrad-hotel.de/en/room/standard-room-french-bed – DJClayworth Jul 3 '18 at 15:17
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    Why is it called a "French" bed? Do the French just like smaller beds? – Azor Ahai Jul 3 '18 at 16:08
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    @AzorAhai: Maybe to make the pill easier to swallow => it's not "small", it's fashionable! – Matthieu M. Jul 3 '18 at 16:18
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    I'm not sure if I agree on this one. German double beds are usually equipped with two mattresses and I know the term "French bed" for a double bed with one mattress as opposed to the usual two. Surely, French beds are usually a bit narrower than 'regular' double beds, but they are not necessarily bound to a 140cm width. This German retailer sells French beds both 140cm and 160cm wide: bettenriese.de/matratzen-ratgeber/franzoesisches-bett – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jul 3 '18 at 17:29
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo what is "regular" is completely subjective. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 4 '18 at 8:31
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I think this issue arises from sloppy punctuation.

Hotel and motel rooms are commonly described by the size and number of beds contained. Thus, one sees "queen bed room" and "king bed room" and so on.

The OP's room contains one French bed, and thus is a "French bed room."

  • While this is true, it doesn't really help those of who have never heard of a "French bed". Other answers at least attempt to give a useful definition (even if there is some disagreement). – IMSoP Jul 7 '18 at 17:18
  • @IMSoP, I'd never heard of a French bed, either. I thought it'd be helpful for others to know that bed type/number are often used as a compound adjective to describe hotel rooms. – David Jul 7 '18 at 21:03
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In hotels, "french bed" usually denotes pretty narrow double bed (meant for TWO persons). It can be as narrow as 140 centimeters and will almost always come with shared duvet. My personal opinion is, that these beds are definitely not meant for sleeping, but for other activities :).

The experience of different people may vary, but I would suggest avoiding this if you need decent space to sleep well. And, of course, such bed is very much not suited for sharing with anyone else except people you are really intimate with.

On the other hand, for a single use, these beds are quite ok.

  • If you are used to wider beds, to separate duvets and so on, you might find it a bit less nice. But not all are happy with separation in bed, some prefer a single mattress and a single duvet, even when just sleeping side by side. – Willeke Jul 6 '18 at 17:59

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