Paris is a city like no other. For many – us included – it’s a true Bucket List destination. Yet, even in Paris, your hotel can be the difference between the trip you’ve been dreaming of, and a complete nightmare. As we noted in How to Find the Best Hotel in Paris, there are some 2,000 hotels in Paris. Finding a hotel is not hard, but choosing the best hotel can be a challenge. We are happy to say, booking Hôtel la Comtesse Paris for our #FallInFrance was the perfect choice.
Location, Location, Location
We put a lot of thought into finding a hotel in Paris, starting with location. We knew three things: We did not want to rent a car and did want to see the iconic sites of the Vieux Cité. Since most of the big attractions are close to the River Seine, that narrowed our search to the Arrondissenments, or neighborhoods, flanking the river. Somewhere between the Arc de Triomphe and the Latin Quarter, our perfect hotel waited.
To narrow things down, we pulled out our one Big Wish: A view of the Eiffel Tower. On the internet, we looked at hotel after hotel. As you might expect, some great hotels close to the Eiffel Tower were pretty expensive; the further away you go, the lower the price. Surprisingly, the view from farther away can be just as nice, if not better.
That’s how we found the Hôtel la Comtesse Paris Tour Eiffel. When it comes to location, this is THE spot. The hotel is just about a block off Champ de Mars, the large lawn in front of Tour Eiffel, and you can walk to the tower itself in just about fifteen minutes. Several of the most iconic Paris landmarks are within walking distance, yet the neighborhood was not touristy. We were among locals, walking to work and watching the world from the café on the corner. (See the Good to Know section below.)
Hôtel la Comtesse is a boutique hotel; just 40 rooms and suites with an elegant 18th Century flair. The Hausmannian building is typical of Paris, and its wedge shape means the best views are from the four rooms at the “bottom” of the V. Unfortunately, those rooms sell out quickly. (We’ll address the room situation in a bit.)
Entering the lobby is like stepping into a historic Parisian literary parlor of the 18th Century, which is exactly what the hotel is modeled after. Look up to see the beautiful frescoes on the ceiling. Test your French with a selection from the bookshelf. By all means, take time to settle into a comfy chair and watch Paris go past the window.
Adjoining the lobby is the La Comtesse Café. Being at the end of the building, it has windows on two sides, and through the door on the end is sidewalk seating. Also through that door is a view of la Tour Eiffel! Fitness facilities are downstairs, and include a small gym and sauna. Since it was cool during our fall visit, we regret not planning more time in the sauna!
A Room Fit for a Marquise
Feeling very French, we booked a Marquise Room. That’s la Comtesse’s name for a “Superior Double” with a side view of le Tour Eiffel. So, first question: What is a side view? Remember that the building is a V shape pointing towards the Eiffel Tower. If you’re on either side of the V, you get a side view. Not exactly the full-frontal Eiffel we were hoping for, but a pleasant view nonetheless. Considering that waking hours spent in your room in Paris are minimal, it’s hardly worth splurging on a great view unless, like us, that is on your Must Have list.
The room itself was small, by American standards but, well, standard by European. The closets – two small spaces on either side of the bed – were just enough for two of us staying for a few days, but there was hardly any room for suitcases. One desk, two small chairs, and a queen-sized bed practically filled the room. It was a very comfortable queen sized bed, though.
Oddly, the bathroom was large, but had one thing in common with so many hotel bathrooms: No counter space. An extra-large sink took valuable room that could have been better used. The entire bathroom was tiled and, as in many modern hotels, the shower was very open. Water tended to get everywhere and, since it was cold, a warm shower condensed on every surface. The result was a wet, slippery bathroom. In the cold weather, the towel warmer was very much appreciated!
In-room amenities included a coffee maker, and a safe large enough for a 15” laptop. There was cable TV as well. The staff was exceptional at keeping us stocked with extra towels, toiletries, and coffee.
La Comtesse Café
The café serves a help-yourself breakfast, featuring pastries, cheese and meats, yogurts and fruit. We didn’t know, at first, that made to order eggs were also available. By far our favorite features were the traditional hot croissants and the coffee maker. While the staff would gladly bring you a cup of coffee, they didn’t mind if you got up to make your own. A few button pushes and you had any hot drink you desired, from espresso to tea, hot chocolate to mocha lattes. If it would have fit in our luggage, we might have taken it home!
Although all of Paris was just outside the window, one of the most enjoyable parts of our entire Fall in France trip was sitting in the café enjoying a Cappuccino while admiring the Eiffel Tower. Every. Morning. If that is Parisian life, sign us up!
A Staff that Shines
As with almost any hotel, the staff will make or break your stay. We were exceptionally pleased with the staff at la Comtesse. From the first day on, everyone at the desk and café knew us, and made us feel welcome. The entire staff was always helpful, friendly, and thoroughly professional. Even when we didn’t think they noticed us, we were greeted with a lilting Bonjour and courteous smile. Watching the staff interact with guests, they were always polite and helpful, whether providing directions, recommending a restaurant, or planning when to leave for the train station.
Good to Know
- Most of the staff is fluent in English, some in Spanish.
- If you’ve forgotten anything, Phamacie de l’École Militaire is across the street.
- Also across the street is a BNP Paribas with an ATM out front. It’s well lit, and we always felt safe.
- Mass Transit
- There are three École Militaire bus stops, as three streets converge in front of the hotel. One is directly in front of the Café Tourville, one on Avenue Duquesne, and another just a few feet away on Place de l’École Militaire.
- École Militaire Metro stops are on either side of Place Joffre, the east/west street that crosses in front of the hotel, on the far side of the Café Tourville.
- Eats: In addition to le Café Comtesse, there are several small restaurants on Avenue de Tourville, from Burgers to Vegan, and three larger restaurants: Café des Officiers, Café Tourville, and La Terrasse
- Sightseeing: Within a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, you will find
- Paris Military School, literally next door.
- UNESCO’s headquarters are directly behind the school.
- Napoleon’s Tomb, Musée de l’Armée, and Musée Rodin are with ten minutes walk down Avenue de Tourville.
- The Champ de Mars park is across the intersection and a block west. Don’t miss the view of the Eiffel Tower at the Mur pour la Paix (Wall of Peace), across from the Military School.
- Strolling through the Champ de Mars leads you directly to le Tour Eiffel in less than 30 minutes, depending on how often you stop to take pictures!
- Within 30 minutes you can also walk to Place de la Concorde, with Champ Elysées on one side, and the Jardin des Tuileries on the other. The Arc de Triomphe and Musée du Louvre lie in either direction.
- Walking to Notre Dame will take about an hour.
Pros & Cons at Hôtel la Comtesse Paris
We very much enjoyed our stay at Hôtel la Comtesse, and have very few cons. The pros far outweigh any shortcomings we found, which were really only annoyances. While the room size could be an issue for some, it’s not uncommon in Paris.
The biggest questions about any hotel are whether you would recommend it to others, and would you return? We have no reservations in saying yes to both!
Disclaimers & Details: Our stay at Hôtel la Comtesse was neither solicited nor compensated, and was booked anonymously. All views are our own, and are based on our experiences.