As a general rule never pre-book accommodation unless you are guarenteed to be in a location for a specific date (eg. near ferry terminal or airport).
We usually start searching for somewhere to stay at around 5pm. Typically we have somewhere and are unpacked, showered and eating dinner by 7 or 8pm.
Accommodation is usually plentiful pretty much everywhere. However tourists hotspots in August or around the local public holidays are likely to be busy. Whatever accommodation that is available will probably be expensive, busy and packed with hyperactive children.
These are the only circumstances when we have had difficulty. We have always found somewhere to stay, but often had to pay more than we intended.
Tourist Information Offices
These are really very useful and are present in almost every town and city of interest. We have used them in Bosnia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and more.
Hotels, hostels, campsites or private homes – they will sometimes even book it for you. When looking for accommodation, the local Tourist Information Office is the first thing we search out.
It’s cheap and common in western Europe. Though there are many drawbacks as you have to carry your tent, sleeping bags and mats on the bike – typically taking up more space than one month’s worth of clothes.
After several hours of riding many would prefer a proper bed.
Good value, often comfortable and with private en-suite rooms available. They’re usually a great way to meet other travellers and in our experience, staff are typically very helpful with regard to issues like secure parking. See HostelWorld.com and Hostelling International
Definitely our preferred place to stay, and you don’t need to be a youth.
Also known as Bed & Breakfasts (B&Bs) but without the breakfast. Private residencies advertising “Rooms” or “Zimmer” and may be recommended by the local tourist information office. Usually much cheaper than hotels.
Pretty simple, a hotel is a hotel unless it’s an all-inclusive hell-hole. Key warning signs which may indicate an all-inclusive resort are manned barriers to the car park, a lot of coaches and families with young children everywhere. Avoid.
Otherwise it’s hard to go wrong except for price (€25-€80 for a room for 2 people – cheaper in the east). Most hotels will be quite happy to assist with parking, opening up courtyards or delivery yards for parking the bikes overnight.