Friday, June 12, 2009
An Overnight in Paris
I've been to Paris three times before. Once two decades ago, the Other Marie had a job where she got free standby tickets to Paris. We went for the weekend on now-defunct Tower Air, in the top bubble of a 747. We stayed in a cheap place in the Latin Quarter where showers down the hall were extra. We both went without. I wasn't so brave back then.
Years later, I straggled into the Republique neighborhood at the end of MariesWorldTour.com, by overnight train from Milan. I'd booked Hotel de l'Exposition on a discount website. The Internet was still used by a minority of people and discount sites still offered genuine discounts, instead of the same product all the other sites offered. I paid $60 a night for a decent room, but same as most small hotels in Paris, it was tiny and nothing special.
The last time I went—in 2004—I avoided staying overnight. I was living in Barcelona and had a round-trip ticket on Ryanair. For $40, I went to and from Paris for the day. I started at 5, walking to the now-defunct Ryanair bus, and got home at two in the morning.
This time, I'm stopping overnight on the way home from Morocco. I tried to get a flight connection on the same day but it would have been cutting the times too close.
I checked the Hotel de l'Exposition site. 75 euros. That's US$ 105.
Hmmm. Surely I can get a nicer place for that amount of money. But there are a lot of wretched, crappy hotels in Paris. How to avoid bedbug-central and get something decent, clean, and cheap?
Many major Western cities have this crappy hotel room problem. New York. London. I get around it both of those places by using Priceline after checking rates on biddingfortravel.com. Those in the know who need real bargains can get luxury hotels by Heathrow for about $60, or in downtown JC for $80. One byproduct of these economic times is that you can get a nice hotel room in Manhattan right now for $100 on Priceline. My last trip to London, I netted a centrally located Holiday Inn for $63.
What's the secret location in Paris?
I posed the question to my Facebook pals.
No one knew the answer to that, but people gave me many ideas for nice hotels. Unfortunately, most of them were still over 100 euros each ($140). Yow. That's too much for a place to sleep en route to somewhere else.
I had tried different Priceline combinations for two days when finally I hit it: $90 for a nice-looking Novotel.
It's still over a hundred bucks once I include the fees but alas, Paris ain't cheap.
Here are the places that were recommended to me:
Hotel Bonaparte. Steve says: "Nice place, great location, around the corner from St. Sulpice, and directly across from Pierre Herme and his INCROYABLE pastries!"
Hôtel du Lys. Martha says: "Fantastic old building near Place St. Michel Metro. Convenient and had nice breakfast. Walking distance to Notre Dame."
Hotel Royal Phare. Mom says: "We stayed here in 2000... it was quaint, close to the Eiffel Tower and cheap ... looks like it is more now but check your bargain sources."
Hotel Louvre Richelieu. Steve says: "Near the Louvre and Palais Royale on the Right Bank. Lots on new sushi and noodle places have opened up in this neighborhood in recent years..."
Denise likes Hotel Grande Ecoles, but has also heard good things about "the weird hospital place."
I saw some promising options on TripAdvisor.com:
Acacias Etoile Hotel
Hotel Louvre Forum
Last, I stumbled over these informative sites, but did not have to use them.
Paris on a Budget
Cheap Paris hotel booking engine. Really cheap, not like laterooms.com or lastminute.com.
If you have a recommendation to add, please click on "Comments." I hope Steve will share his apartment booking source here.