Read this before you book your hotel in Paris
David Jacobs investigates and recommends a few safe bets.
How to go about choosing the right hotel in Paris? The real trick is not finding class and style, of which there is bucketloads, especially if you’re happy to pay 500 euro a night, but finding good value, good sized rooms, good position with good staff all wrapped up in an affordable package can be tricky. Sometimes it’s necessary to compromise and as long as you know precisely what to expect that’s fine. Nowhere is it more necessary than Paris to reinforce the message that any advertised room size will include the size of the bathroom. You will undoubtedly find rooms which are just a tiny bit bigger than your bed with a bathroom the size of a cupboard and some will say that’s part of the charm of the typical Parisien hotel. For others, me included, room size is important and for us, a bit more research is necessary. Do also bear in mind that you can’t assume that every good hotel has air conditioning. I’ve been to Paris pretty much in all seasons and although I’ve never found a hotel which is deficient in the heating department, there’s been more than one which has failed to provide any, or, which in some senses is worse, any effective air conditioning. In other words the hotel promotes itself as having air conditioning and when you get there, it’s worse than useless. Paris can be hot and airless in summer so if you are going that time of year good air-con is really essential.If there is one message, and this applies of course when you travel anywhere, it’s know precisely what you are going to get, do your research, compare prices on different websites, including the hotel’s website, do look at reviews, but pay more attention to the reviews on sites where people have had to book through that site in order to leave a review such as Booking.com, Hotels.com. Expedia.com and Travelocity.com.
The hotels listed below are a somewhat eclectic, perhaps slightly boring list of safe bets in central Paris. I’ve enjoyed staying in all of them, but for different reasons. At the end of the day, choosing the right hotel in Paris or anywhere is a personal choice and no-one will ever get it right all of the time.
Gorgeous 5 star hotel designed in the Empire style, wonderfully situated in the 9th arrondissement amid the shopping, theatre and banking districts and close to the Opera Garnier, a Galleries Lafayette (which has a rooftop terrace with one of the best views of Paris) and close-ish to the Louvre. The hotel’s La Verriere restaurant in the vast atrium-like central well of the hotel is an impressive, 800 square metre winter garden, which dominates the area leading off the lobby. Reception staff are highly professional and welcoming and speak excellent English. Rooms are traditional and immaculatelytasteful through be warned that the Classic room is very small. Current prices for June 19 start at 415 euro for a Classic room. The executive room at 466 euro is much bigger
2 Rue Scribe. www.ichotelsgroup.com
The only truly grand hotel on the left bank, located in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district of Paris and its fashion boutiques,the 4 star Lutetia is located close to the Luxembourg Gardens and the Orsay Museum, and across the road from the “Bon Marché” department store. When it was built in 1910 it was the first art deco hotel in Paris. For decades it has been a gathering place for Parisian artists, writers and political figures. Rooms are comfortably decorated with large doubles or twins. Room size within the lowest class “superior” category can vary quite a lot in size. What I loved about this hotel was their famous“Lute-Jazz” nights in the piano bar starting at 10:15 p.m from Wednesday through to Saturday. Wonderful after a good dinner to come back to top quality jazz and a nightcap Current prices for June 19 start at 380 euro and from 414 euro including a buffet breakfast. Wi-fi internet is included
45, boulevard Raspail www.lutetia-paris.com
I must admit my own bias here. I do like Crowne Plaza hotels and have stayed in them in London, Gatwick, Paris and Amsterdam. Basically they are a safe bet, offering a very good and consistent quality at a decent price, good English speaking staff and a yummy buffet breakfast. This 4 star hotel has a classic Haussmann facade and is situated in a busy square minutes away from Montmartre, the Le Marais area and the Bastille. Club rooms are a decent size and decorated in a fairly modern fashion, mostly with views over the hotel’s inner courtyard, though front views looking out over the ever busy Place de la Republique are worthwhile. Current prices for June 19 start at 166 euro or 176 euro including breakfast. From 236 euro you can get a “Club room” which includes access to a private lounge with free internet where free canapés and cocktails are served in the evening, though availability can be a little variable. 10 Place de la Republique www.ichotelsgroup.com (Click here for more information)
Novotel, Gare de Lyon Maybe it seems highly unfashionable to recommend a Novotel, but in reality the Novotels, part of the Accor Hotel empire, are another safe bet. This is a 4 star hotel about 200 yards from the Gare de Lyon train station, so its ideally situated if you are travelling on to or from the South of France by rail, especially on early departures and late arrivals. Somewhat unusually for a central Paris hotel, especially at this price, it has a long and narrow swimming pool, situated just off the reception area. Room sizes are really good and modern and functional in design. The buffet breakfast is adequate and there is a good selection of cafes and restaurants within a couple of minutes walk, including the spectacular Le Train Bleu in the Gare de Lyon. The area to the side of the hotel is not the greatest and I would recommend using the front entrance to get to the station rather than traverse the large open public area at the back. Current prices for June 19 start at 199 euro, though other times of year can be substantially cheaper
2 rue Hector Malot www.novotel.com (Click here for more information)
Hotel des Grandes Ecoles
This exceptionally popular and peaceful 3 star hotel is close to the Pantheon in the Sainte Genevieve area in the 5th arondissement and has a very high proportion of returnvisitors. It’s situated in its own cobbled courtyard and lovely little garden, where you can take breakfast in the summer. With its shutters and pink painted exterior it looks much more like the provincial manor house rather than a central Paris hotel. The staff are utterly charming, very welcoming and very helpful. Try to avoid one of the ground floor rooms as they can get a little noisy in the morning when the staff are preparing breakfast. Current prices for June 19 start at 118 euro for a double room although oddly, you can’t book for more than about 4 months in advance online
75 rue du Cardinal Lemoine www.hotel-grandes-ecoles.com
Call me a hypocrite but I do like this very popular 2 star hotel even if the room sizes are typically Parisien. The hotel, another Haussman building, has 30 rooms, some of which have a French (ie tiny) balcony and murals painted by local artists. Its located in the 5th arrondissement near the Sorbonne and the Pantheon and a short downhill walk to the Seine. Views towards the Seine and the Notre Dame are lovely. You can see the various types of rooms from the hotel’s website, one of which is a very nice four poster room. The hotel does get booked up very early in high season. What I would suggest is, although you can make instant bookings online, to email the hotel and ask them which rooms they have available and ask for photographs. The hotel is air conditioned and offers wifi throughout Current prices for June 19 start at 99 euro for a double room with shower, or 111 euro including a standard continental breakfast.
11 rue des Ecoles www.hotel-paris-familia.com (Click here for more information)