Advice for booking your holiday accommodation

You are planning to book a hotel or holiday rental on the Internet? Here you will find practical advice on how to choose your accommodation, pay for it, cancel it and who to contact in case of problems, especially if you have used a booking platform.

How to choose your hotel or holifay rental?

To find a holiday rental, you can contact the tourist office of your holiday location, go through a real estate agency or consult specialised websites.

If you decide to book via an onlineplatform (Booking, Airbnb, Expedia, Abritel etc.), be aware that they are only intermediaries between a tenant and a landlord or hotelier and cannot, in principle, be held responsible for any problems that may arise with the accommodation. Be particularly vigilant: the house presented on the website may not be the one you dreamed of.


  • Choose your accommodation carefully! Do not hesitate to look on other websites and forums if other vacationers have given assessments on this establishment. Do not only trust reviews and stars mentioned on the booking platform! The ranking of establishments on these platforms varies according to different criteria (percentage of commissions paid, volume of rooms rented on the platform, volume of sales etc.) and not only according to the quality of the establishments or customers’ opinion.
  • Check the location of the accommodation or hotel on an online mapping service offered by a search engine for example. You will then be sure that the indicated address exists and that your accommodation is by the seaside for example.
  • Check if the photos do not correspond to another ad. Fake holiday home renters regularly use pictures of real holiday rentals but modify the name of the renter and of course, the bank details to be credited. To check the ad and its presence on the Internet, you can register the address of the property to be rented and enter it in an image search engine.
  • Ask for a written description of the accommodation. In France, the renter (professional, private, rental agency…) is required to provide upon request to anyone interested in the accommodation a signed descriptive inventory of fixtures containing the number and surface area of the rooms, the location of the apartment block, the various household and comfort features, etc.
  • Be careful with regard to certain websites posting several ads and mentioning that each rental is scrupulously visited before posting the ad. Try to check the veracity of this information on search engines before booking anything.
  • Do not hesitate to contact the hotel or the owner of the accommodation directly to compare the price, cancellation conditions, room, breakfast etc. with what is offered on the booking platform. The service charges of the platform can increase sometimes the price too much.
  • Do not book too fast! When the booking platform says, “only one room available in this establishment”, it does not mean that the establishment has no more available place. It means that the platform can only offer one room on this establishment. Do not hesitate to call the hotelier directly or the owner of the accommodation.

Good to know:

The awarding of stars for hotel rantings is differs from a country to another. A 3-star hotel in Austria will not necessary have the same services as a 3-star hotel in Malta! Please check the hotel's website, a travel guide or call the hotel directly to find out more about the quality of the establishment.

Pay attention to the price and payment of your booking!

  • Compare offers including all taxes and fees. Tourist tax, cleaning service, etc. may be addes to the price.
  • Be careful with the exchange rate if you book a hotel or accommodation outside the euro zone. The price displayed may vary according to the exchange rate applied by your bank.
  • Do not pay out money without checking who your landlord is. Be wary if the bank account to be credited is not in the name of the accommodation owner and/or is located in another country than the one where he/she supposedly resides.
  • To pay online, make sure you are on a secure website (URL in https with the appearance of a closed padlock). More information in our article in French « payer en ligne ».
  • If you call on booking platforms, please note that the booking, payment and contact with the host in the chosen city are made directly on the booking platform. Be wary if you receive e-mails outside the system, more or less mentioning the name of the site and offering you another method of payment such as a bank transfer to an account abroad, which would be irrevocable.
  • Keep the confirmation payment as proof of payment.

What is the tourist tax?

You may be asked to pay a "tourist tax" on site.  All touristic, coastal and mountain towns can indeed impose this tax on tourist accommodation. The amount to be paid by tourists can be adapted each year by the cities, before the 1st of July.

Are subject to this tax :

  • palaces
  • tourist hotels
  • tourist residences
  • holiday villages
  • guest houses
  • outdoor accommodation (camping, caravan sites, etc.)
  • camping-car and tourist parking areas
  • marinas.

The amount to be paid depends on the category of the establishment and is charged per person and per night.

For example, in 2022, for a 3-star accommodation in France, the tourist tax may not exceed €1.50.

Some people may be exempt from paying this tax:

  • minors (under the age of 18)
  • beneficiaries of emergency accommodation or temporary (re)housing
  • holders of a seasonal employment contract in the town concerned

Find out the amount of tourist tax applied in a commune by using the search engine on the website

Since 1 January 2019, a proportional tax based on the cost per night applies to unclassified or unranked establishments in order to cope with new offers in accommodation rentals.

Unclassified or unranked accommodation, with the exception of outdoor accommodation, is taxed between 1% and 5%. The adopted rate is applied per person and per night. The amount of the tourist tax is capped at the highest rate adopted by the city.

In general, the accommodation will ask you to pay this tax when you leave the premises. Even if you have already paid online, the calculation of the tourist tax is usually not included, unless your invoice mentions so "taxe de séjour comprise".

Deposit and down payment: what are the differences?

In France, a distinction is made between deposits ("arrhes") -and down payments ("acompte"). If your contract states that you are making a down payment, please notice that the down payment makes the commitment definitive. If you cancel your contract, you will have to compensate the owner for the damage caused by the cancellation. This compensation may correspond to the amount of the down payment paid or to a certain percentage of the total rental price. If you pay a deposit, you, like the owner, have the possibility to change your mind and cancel the booking. If you cancel, you will have to leave the money paid to the owner as compensation. If the owner changes his mind, he will have to reimburse you double the deposit as compensation.

What insurance should I take out for a holiday rental?

If you have decided to rent a house or an apartment abroad for your holidays, it is better to take out insurance. In France you are used to having a multi-risk home insurance. The French landlord of the accommodation may require this contractually. Note, however, that this rental insurance may only cover you in the event of fire, explosion or water damage. Any other damage you may cause (broken furniture, damaged or lost objects) may be at your own expense.

Check with your insurance. It may be possible to extend your home insurance to cover a holiday home. Also, check the guarantees linked to your creditcard if you pay for your accommodation by card.

Cancel your booking should I take out for a holiday rental?

If you book a hotel or holiday rental on the Internet, you do not benefit from the 14-day right of withdrawal. Your booking will therefore be firm and final.

If you wish to cancel, check the cancellation terms in your rental contract or in the general terms and conditions of the hotel. Fees may be foreseen.

Who to contact in case of problem?

Your contact person depends on the type of problem encountered and the method of booking.

  • Direct booking with the hotel or the owner of the accommodation

In case of a problem with your accommodation (room with a view on the car park and not on the sea, missing towels, noise...) booked directly with the hotel or the owner, contact the hotelier or the owner of the accommodation and try to find an amicable solution (price reduction, compensation...).

Look out! If you are renting from a private individual who only occasionally rents his dwelling, you do not benefit from the same rights because consumer law does not apply. Moreover, the ECC-Net will not be able to help you in case of a problem with a private individual even established in another European Union Member state, Iceland, Norway or the United Kingdom.

  • Booking via a platform

If the accommodation does not correspond to the ad, take photos of the anomalies noted (swimming pool out of order, disorder, missing or damaged objects, missing equipment...) and contact the customer service of the platform as well as the hotelier or the owner. As an intermediary, the platform could assist you in your dealings with the hotelier or the owner of the accommodation.

If the problem concerns the booking itself (price to be paid different from the one announced, wrong date of stay, means of payment not accepted...), the platform is directly responsible. Please contact the platform.

If the problem concerns the accommodation or the hotel room during the stay (theft, additional costs...), contact the hotel owner or the owner.

If you are unable to come to a solution with a seller based in another European Union Member state, in the United Kingdom, Iceland or Norway, do not hesitate to contact the European Consumer Centre of your country of residence.

If you live in France and you have a dispute with a French owner or hotelier, contact a French consumers' association.

    Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.