In this installment of Best Paris Hotels, we explain what you could expect to experience in a Parisian hotel. Does your Parisian fantasy involve romantic evenings in a historic hotel, waking to the aroma of freshly baked croissants and café au lait? Good news, you need not be from French aristocracy to make your dreams come true! The City of Light gives visitors stylish options in all price ranges, with more than 2,000 hotels.
Let’s face it, traveling can be expensive and comfort ranks up there on a list of needs. Paris, like any metropolitan, can be an expensive place to stay. The cost of living is higher in Paris than in other parts of France, and generally speaking the same is true of hotels and places to stay. Prior to booking your trip to Paris and before booking a hotel, you need to decide if you want to stay in the city or in the suburbs. You may even decide that it is in your interest to stay well outside Paris, and come in on a fast train for a day trip.
Location and price make a difference; there are more hotels on the Right Bank offering luxury with premium service than on the Left Bank, where the hotels are typically smaller and offer old-fashioned charm. The Right Bank are still the most exclusive with some of these grande hotels charging more than €750 a night for standard rooms. Less-expensive alternatives on the Right Bank can be found in the Marais quarter. The hotbed of chic hotels on the Left Bank is the 6e arrondissement; choices get cheaper in the 5e and 7e. Excellent budget deals can be found slightly off the beaten track in the 9e, 10e, 13e, and 20e arrondissements. Paris has moved to enforcement of the no-smoking law which is not always perfect, but you’ll have a valid complaint if your room smells like stale smoke.
Amenities have improved, with nearly every hotel now equipped with cable TV having stations broadcasted in English, often high-definition screens, minibars, in-room safes, and wireless Internet access, which may come with a surcharge. American’s are often spoiled with the option of central air; another recent change is the increasing availability of air-conditioning in both hotels and restaurants. Unless you are staying in a hotel categorized as “expensive”, you should be prepared for minimal amenities. Washcloths can be scarce, toiletries are few, and a few of the smaller hotels still do not have elevators. Indoor spaces may still feel cramped to those not used to life on a European scale. Parisian lodgings can be charming, opulent, cozy, homey, and even outrageous. Keep in mind Parisian hotel rooms tend to be small. Tourists who come from countries where hotel rooms are often staggeringly big are shocked when they check in to tiny, antique buildings. And it’s not just budget lodgings but even boutique hotels can have snug rooms.
Staying in central Paris allows you to walk between many of the tourist attractions while saving cost of public transport and time commuting to and from the city. On the flipside, hotels near tourist areas are typically quite expensive and less expensive hotels are often in less attractive areas of the city far from the major attractions. This is a situation that you will want to decide what is most important to you in your preferences and travel agenda. If you are looking for the ultimate experience consider looking into hostels which are geared toward the ultimate traveler that likes to share space and community with other adventurers.
Continental breakfast (juice, coffee, or tea, and a croissant and/or baguette) is still the standard, however many hotels now offer a more generous morning meal that may include yogurt, ham, cereal, juice, and sometimes eggs and bacon. If you are planning to eat breakfast at the hotel, find out what it includes, because you could end up paying more money for an uninspiring continental breakfast, when you could have paid less for a croissant on a sidewalk terrace at a cafe.
Hotel rates fluctuate a little like the weather however many agree that August is the lowest of low season. This is due to the fact that most of France heads for the beach, and hotels are desperate for business making the remainder of the year is a free-for-all. In general, September and October are typically high season, while November, December, and January are low season (except for Christmas and New Year’s). Once spring arrives, prices tend to rise.
Utilizing online travel booking sites may offer considerable discounts on room rates, however often the best place to look is the hotel’s official website, especially in the case of smaller, affordable hotels. Smaller establishments can afford to be more generous on their own websites and some hotels do not want to jump on the Internet booking bandwagon because they do not feel the random rate hikes are fair however for most hotels, Internet surfing to find affordable prices is still an idea way to go.
If you are willing to do a bit of legwork, there are some great deals to be had, especially for hotels in the higher price range. A nicer boutique hotel may have rates that are not so different from middle or even low-price lodgings and many hotels offer discounts for stays of over three nights. It pays to research to find the best rate and lodging that matches your desires.
Photo by edwin.11 // Flickr