The Secret Hotels of Paris
The secret, (mostly) small, (mostly) family-run gems that give you great ambience at truly exceptional prices
A trip to the City of Light is a dream for many--yet one that can turn sour when you're faced with its abundance of Eiffel Tower--high prices. But finding a charmant hotel that won't leave you broke is not an impossible quest, as long as you don't expect huge rooms quite as amenity-packed as in the States. Even so, you can easily pay the same price for an uninspiring dump as you might for a comfy little marvel--had you known better. Here's to knowing better.
After visiting dozens of hotels, we've chosen 19 of the creme de la creme that offer doubles for under $80 a night (not including room tax, the equivalent of less than a dollar per person per night). And we've listed them below in ascending order of cost. Hotel Bonsejour 11 rue Burq, 18th arrondissement, Montmartre, tel. 011-33/1-42-54-22-53, fax /1-42-54-25-92. Metro: Abbesses. 34 rooms, nine with sink and shower, 26 with sink, all with shared toilet facilities, communal shower available on first floor. No elevator, no phones. Doubles: sink only ¬30 ($27), sink and shower ¬36 ($32), breakfast ¬4 ($3.50). An amazing deal. Yes, there is no elevator and the floors are uneven, but the rooms are spacious, well kept, and best of all, smack in the middle of Montmartre. Many rooms have lovely views of cobbled streets; the best are from corner rooms 23, 33, 43, and 53, which have nice balconies where you can have your breakfast. The owner is fiercely proud of the cleanliness of the rooms and the fact that he has invested in high-quality mattresses--a true luxury at these prices. A few rooms have showers, but shared facilities are immaculate and cleaned frequently. There is no denying that the premises are a little old and creaky, but its clear that the management has made a big effort to keep paint fresh and customers smiling.
Hotel de Lille
8 rue du Pelican, 1st arr., Palais Royale/Louvre, tel. 011-33/1-42-33-33-42. Metro: Palais Royale-Musee du Louvre. 13 rooms, seven with private bath, four with sink and shared bath. No elevator, no phones. Doubles with sink and shower ¬42 ($37), sink, shower, and toilet ¬49 ($43).
This funky little hotel has recently spiffed itself up with a new coat of paint and some periodesque furniture. It's amazing what a few Alfons Mucha posters and new carpets can do for a tired tourist's morale. Yes, you still have to haul yourself up a narrow staircase, but at least your final destination is cheery, if not luxurious. Rooms on the courtyard are very quiet, but darkness-lovers should request a room facing the calm street. Travelers converge on this hotel to take advantage of the low prices and the great location, a couple of blocks from the Louvre and the Palais Royale.
Hotel du Sejour
36 rue du Grenier St-Lazare, 3rd arr., the Marais, tel./fax 011-33/1-48-87-40-36. Metro: Rambuteau. 20 rooms, about half with private bath, half with sink (shared toilets). No elevator, no phones. Doubles with sink only ¬42 ($37), shower and toilet ¬54 ($48).
The sunny, cheerful rooms match the owner's smile at this friendly place, where a warm welcome takes the sting out of the long climb up the stairs. Lodgings are simple but clean, and several rooms have new bathroom fixtures and wallpaper--a decided preference for pink is detectable in the color scheme. The relatively spacious rooms are fairly quiet, with double-paned windows to keep out street noise. Museum lovers will be tickled with the locale, as the Pompidou Center is right down the street and the many museums of the Marais are within easy walking distance.
18 rue des Dames, 17th arr., Batignolles, tel. 011-33/1-45-22-35-21, fax /1-43-87-25-97. Metro: Place de Clichy. 33 rooms, most with private bath. No elevator. Doubles ¬54 ($48), breakfast ¬5.50 ($5).
Batignolles is one of Paris' more happening neighborhoods these days, and this fanciful place fits right in with the artsy scene. Lively reds, golds, and greens coat the walls, and furniture is covered in everything from African prints to old-fashioned comforters. Interesting architectural details like onyx mantelpieces and wood moldings have been preserved, and touches like modern art posters and mosaic bathroom mirrors have been added. The nicest (and largest) rooms are in the back building, with high ceilings and garden views. OK, there is some chipped paint here and there, but overall this hotel is clean, smart, and a terrific bargain. Be sure to check out the cool little bistro on the ground floor.
Hotel Le Petit
Chatelet 9 rue St-Denis, 1st arr., Chatelet/Les Halles, tel. 011-33/1-42-33-32-31, fax /1-42-33-32-45. Metro: Chatelet. 11 rooms, 10 with private bath. No elevator. Doubles ¬62 ($55), breakfast ¬5.40 ($4.75).
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