Mind the gap: It's a polite safety phrase forever linked to the London Underground, but it could just as easily apply to a plethora of hotels and hostels throughout Europe.
In this case the results of ignoring the advice run slightly less risk of fatality, but it's still a trick of the hotel trade that gets under my skin. Book and pay for a double, queen or king-sized bed and are instead given two single beds pushed together – and sometimes even made up separately (this is a particular problem I've found in France and Germany).
Cheeky. Beds with wheels are all the more troublesome. The result, if you are a couple used to your own bed, is a slow and steady canyon expanding throughout the night. If you fall into this bedsheet laden rut it does not simply become a make-shift hammock or cosy pouch. Bang! You're on your bedroom floor at 5am: A wake-up call you hadn't requested.
Easy fix one would think: Email, or even better, call ahead and ensure that you are indeed getting a singular but not single bed for the evening.
In my time skipping about various European countries I've specified at time of booking, before arrival or at check-in and have been met with results that vary from an indifferent shrug, to the ever-present "not possible" to insistence that two singles pushed together "is how we all do double beds in Spain" (no, it isn't).
Given that the two most common travel groups are singles staying alone and couples – neither typically requiring two single beds or two twin beds– I don't understand this Euro-sensibility that all beds should be configured to any layout or customer preference.
Is there an undercurrent of demand from two single travellers who want to be in the same room, but not same bed that justifies this? Have I missed a beat?
Yes, there are groups who may not want to book family rooms, but I wouldn't have thought so many that to find a lone, proper queen or king-sized bed can often be the exception to the rule.
At resorts, boutique hotels, luxury joints or 2-star boltholes across the EU is there ever an entire place that is booked out exclusively by these two-twin-beds-only type? Nope.
Worst of all is that (particularly on accommodation aggregators such as Booking.com) the "twin bed rooms" are slightly discounted compared to king rooms, but have in my experience, been exactly the same save for a half-metre between two beds – even sharing a headboard. So why would you pay more when these two same beds can be wheeled together for the next night or guest?
Its prevalence must come down to money. Was there a bed warehouse closing down sale in Berlin, Barcelona or Bruges? – in the very least it's got to be a Europe-wide sales rep who can offer discount-over-discount on single and twin beds.
"I'll even throw in a king size sheet and duvet, so you can pretend it's a superior room when really it's a standard one – how about that?"
More likely, it may come down to what the industry calls Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR), a measurement of how full a hotel is multiplied by the average nightly rate.
If you are able to configure your (awful) twin or single beds to groups and charge an extra occupancy fee and if couples travelling together don't complain too often, hotels will do it.
Let's just hope the trend does not bed in outside of continental Europe.