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I am traveling to the Netherlands. The hotel (I've been there before) has no curtains or blinds in the rooms - very typical for the country. In front of the window runs a street, not particularly wide, then comes a residential building (the apartments don't all have curtains either, if I remember correctly). In short, the inhabitants can see inside well. During my last trip I had already wondered, am I allowed to change clothes in the hotel room? I always changed in the secluded bathroom then, so as not to do anything wrong. I'm not a beauty, but I wouldn't care if anybody sees me, but I don't want to misbehave.

How should I behave, what is expected of me or what is even the law?

  • Only change in the secluded bathroom?
  • May I change, but it would be obscene if I had the light on in the room?
  • Or doesn’t it matter?

I seem to remember that the Dutch are rather easygoing on this topic, but I'd like to ask this question anyway.

Additionally, out of mere interest: What are the expectations when you are traveling as a couple and want to practice intercourse, and others can look right on the bed from the outside?

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    I am Dutch and I find a hotelroom straight on the street without curtains or blinds very unexpected. I would also advice to ask at the front desk, but for how to close the curtains (or an other room where people can not look in.)
    – Willeke
    Jun 5 at 10:17
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    Are you sure you didn’t miss some way to obscure the windows? That would be extremely unusual IMHO. Can you let us know which hotel this is? Room descriptions/photos may give a clue.
    – jcaron
    Jun 5 at 10:44
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    What’s the name of the hotel in question?
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 5 at 11:07
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    This is very unlikely. Every hotel room I have ever been has some way to block out daylight for sleeping. Current the sun rises at 5:20am in the Netherlands. You are most likely missing something here.
    – Hilmar
    Jun 5 at 15:50
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    Similar to @Hilmar: I've never stayed in a hotel in the Netherlands but in all other European countries I've lived in or visited curtains to keep the light out are the norm - often blackout or at least thick dark ones. Sometimes there's a blind or shutters, and in some German places the external shutters are internally operated and not very obvious. The only exceptions are places like bunkhouses and mountain huts, when people might expect to sleep with an eye mask Jun 6 at 7:47

4 Answers 4

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Living in the Netherlands (and being Dutch) I would expect a hotel in the Netherlands to have curtains or an other way to keep people from looking in if there is any spot from which to look into the room.

So I would ask the front desk if there is a smart way to close curtains, blinds or something to close out the people possibly looking in. (These days it can be a switch next to the window or even anywhere in the room, including on a remote, that does something electric.)

If there is no such way, the polite way is not to change in view of the window and to keep the lights out when doing things others should not see. But it is up to the possibly lookers in to also not to stare into the window trying to see every little bit.

I have slept for years in a room where there was matting for the windows, which would obscure the view of the window unless there was light on the inside but dark on the outside. Knowing that I did never show myself nude if there was light on inside. (No apartments near, only a view from lower down from which I was invisible on the bed.) I would not accept a hotel room without curtains in a city situation where people can look in from homes or even the street.

Open curtains in Dutch windows, or no curtains in living room windows are the norm. But 'no curtains' in bedrooms is certainly not the norm.

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  • the polite way is not to change in view of the window is there a legal requirement for that? (in France it is forbidden to be naked in your house if someone may see you)
    – WoJ
    Jun 8 at 10:11
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    No. In the Netherlands your place of residence and other private areas legally fall outside of the scope of relevant laws, and count as what is known as 'wearing large trousers'. You have the right to walk around naked inside of your home (and by extension in a private hotel room unless the proprietor forbids it), as long as you do not cause undue harm. That harm must be read as 'posing naked in front of a window facing a school' or something like that. Accidental exposure is not illegal. (This website explains it well (Dutch): artikel430a.nl/naaktrecreant.html)
    – JeroenHoek
    Jun 8 at 13:05
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In addition to the other answers, it is very much a matter of context. Like Willeke said, it is very common to have no curtains in a living room or study, even in the evening when the interior is clearly visible from outside.

As for other parts of the house it will also depend a lot on how high up you are and where. I'm Dutch and now live in a residential area where neighbours keep an eye on each other. When it's dark outside I shower with the lights off, the bathroom window is matted so my silhouette would be visible otherwise and the bathroom is on the first floor.

When we lived in Amsterdam we were on the 4th floor with the next window at a distance and I did not bother to close the curtains when changing clothes. If passers by want to strain their necks, it is their business.

As aside note, the open curtains policy seems to affect what is shown through the window. Living rooms tend to be really tidy and stylized. And people tend to be dressed nicely around the house, not just outside. And when they do something out of the ordinary (like have a beautician treatment) some seek privacy in an upstairs room.

All summed up, there is likely to be some kind of curtain or shutter when the hotel room is easily looked into. But if you cannot find it, it will not get you into trouble.

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Do what you feel comfortable with. You are extremely unlikely to get arrested for this, and should it come to this, you can explain the curtain situation and the hotel will be in trouble.

I have stayed in Dutch hotels, BTW. They do have curtains.

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    If you undress in front of the window in full view and act like you are a stage show you might be arrested. In that case the excuse 'no curtains' will not help you, there are enough ways not to expose yourself even without curtains.
    – Willeke
    Jun 7 at 10:14
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    @Willeke - although in certain parts of town such an act might be expected...
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 7 at 17:47
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    @JonCuster, only if you pay your taxes.
    – Willeke
    Jun 7 at 19:18
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I totally agree with Willeke answer.

However I would add, in the unusual event that your room really has no mean to avoid people looking in, that you should ask the Hotel to provide a movable curtain (or some other similar contraption) to allow you to change comfortably while you are in the bedroom without forfeiting your privacy.

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