Booking a hotel in Paris? Prepare to be overwhelmed.
Travelers are spoiled for choice when looking for lodging in the City of Lights. We’ve read there are 2,000 hotels in Paris. From AirBNBs to global brand-name hotels, budget hostels to swanky spa resorts, some of the best in the world can be found in Paris. Why, then, does hotel shopping seem so hard?
Trying to find the best among 2,000 hotels, considering budget, location, and amenities, is something like quantum calculus. Trust us, that’s hard! On our last visit to Paris, we found several contenders. Each was almost perfect! Almost, but not quite. That’s when we figured it out. The light bulb lit up like the Eiffel Tower at night. There is no “best” hotel in Paris. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t one that’s perfect for you.
Start with your itinerary
Why are you going to Paris, anyway? Are you a sightseer, or are you interested in one particular place? Is there a function to attend, or people you need to see?
Paris is huge. The city and her suburbs, called the Metropole of Grand Paris, cover 314 square miles (!!!), and those questions can help narrow down the choices, geographically. Our recommendation is to find a map, and mark the locations on your itinerary. Soon, you’ll have a “search zone” that may have a hundred hotels instead of a thousand.
In most European cities, many of the iconic attractions are in the historic city center. In Paris, that’s the Vieux Cite. It could be the highest concentration of cultural and historic attractions in Europe and, thankfully, it’s very walkable. You may notice most of your sightseeing will be in a smaller area; focused around the Latin Quarter, for example. It makes sense to narrow your search even more. You may be down to a dozen hotels now! That can still be pretty daunting, but we’re making progress.
The price tag might not be the first thing you consider when shopping for a hotel, but it could be the most important factor. You will spend more for the privilege of being a stone’s throw from the biggest attractions, even if it’s not at a Five Star hotel. At the same time, you are saving expenses on rental cars and parking, which add up fast.
We like to think we have a Five Star style, but we know we have a decidedly middle class budget. Sure, we’ll look at the Four Seasons Hotel George V because, #5StarParis! But when we’re ready to book, we filter out hotels beyond our means. (And cry a little.)
Our best advice is to check a site like Business Travel News’ Corporate Travel Index, which shows the average hotel rates (economy to luxury) for cities around the world. That can help you establish a reasonable budget. Once you have that number, you can filter out all of the more expensive hotels. In Paris, the average nightly room rate in 2019 was $265. Not so bad, when you consider you’re in one of the most popular cities in the world! (For reference, Paris ranked 4th highest in 2019.)
Style, Amenities and Je ne sais quoi
It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that Paris has tied Macau for having the most Forbes Five Star hotels. It is Paris, after all. This is the city that practically invented sophistication and sublime service. Despite that, you may not be moved by elite hotels or exclusive resorts. You may be more comfortable at a small boutique hotel, or an AirBnB on a barge on the River Seine. That’s your style and, whatever it is, that can help narrow down the myriad of choice, too.
What about amenities? Is a pool or gym mandatory, or just nice to have? Is “breakfast included” a deal breaker? Do you like a particular style or theme? Do you want to wake up every morning and see the Eiffel Tower? Yes, yes, and YES! That scratches even more hotels off the list.
Many hotel search sites let you filter by amenity and location, so by now you should be down to a handful of choices. Look carefully at each one, and imagine how you would feel waking up there. Does it have that “something special” that speaks to you? Can you see yourself relaxing in the lobby, or unwinding at the bar? Does it check all – or at least, some – of your boxes?
These are the important questions that can make or break your stay. You probably won’t remember how much you paid for your hotel. You may never know just how many steps it was to Musee Orsay. But you will remember that boutique hotel that made you feel like a real Parisian.
Check the Reviews
Before hitting the Book Now button, check the reviews at a few different sites. Our favorites include Trip Advisor, Oyster, and Expedia. There are bound to be some over-the-top reviews that are hard to believe, and a few scary ones. Don’t read just the best and worst stories, though. We pay close attention to the reviews in the middle, where more mundane (and common) issues might arise.
Check to see if management is responding, and how. An engaged management staff is a good sign, and it’s even better if you don’t see the same issues in more recent reviews. That means they’re paying attention, and fixing what’s broken. If the hotel is part of a chain, check their website review also. Those reviews often get sent right to the property manager to address, and things are less likely to go unnoticed.
What we look for is a positive overall tone, both in recent reviews and management responses.
Putting It All Together
Time to practice what we preach! For our #FallInFrance trip to Paris, we had a wish list for our hotel:
- Most of the places we wanted to see were clustered in the city center, so that’s where we started our search. The Left Bank was the most convenient, in terms of walking or subway access, to most places on our itinerary.
- Budget: We knew the view we wanted would up the price tag, so we set our sights high. €350 was the middle of our range, and we pleasantly came in below that.
- Style & Amenities:
- Eiffel Tower View – We love that view! That means we should stay in the 6th or 7th Arrondissement, where some of the best views are. They are also on the Left Bank, which suited our itinerary.
- Breakfast Included – As a “nice to have.”
- Our style is modern and sophisticated, but we wanted a boutique hotel that let us know we were in the heart of Paris.
- Good Reviews: By the time we were down to three choices, poor reviews steered us away from one hotel. Since the others had equally good reviews, we would have felt comfortable booking a room at either one.
The end result was a comfortable room in a modern boutique hotel. Everything the Left Bank has to offer was within walking distance. For anything further, a Metro station was across the street. We had breakfast every morning, a sidewalk café to watch Paris go by, and views of the Eiffel Tower from our room. In many ways, it was the best hotel in Paris because it was perfect for us!
Have you tried these tips to find the best hotel room, in Paris or anywhere else? What other tips do you use to make sure your hotel is one to remember? We’d love it if you’d share your tips in the Comments.