Sleeping in Paris
Paris has no shortage of famous – and expensive hotels. And who doesn’t have a dream of the perfect Paris hotel with a balcony and a view of the Eiffel Tower? Sounds great, doesn’t it?
But when you're on a budget these kind of expectations are a bit unrealistic.
Don’t worry. As a budget traveler you have lots of options.
Where to stay?
Instead of going into a long description about how Paris is divided into 20 districts, called “arrondissements” that spiral out from the center, I’ll suggest that most visitors will be happy staying in the 4th, 5th or 6th arrondissements near the Seine. These locations will put you in the “heart” of Paris and many of the top sights will be within walking distance.
The problem is that these areas tend to be expensive, and you’ll have the company of lots of other tourists. Once you get away from "Tourist Central" you'll find lower prices - for hotels, and just about anything else. With a nearby metro or bus stop you'll have easy access to all of Paris.
How to choose a hotel
For me finding the perfect hotel is a combination of price, location and amenities. I also take the charm and décor into consideration, keeping in mind that I’m only there to sleep.
Prepare yourself for small rooms and small beds in Paris. A double room will probably have a double bed – not a queen, and definitely not the two queen-sized beds that are common in US hotels. A budget hotel may not have an elevator or air-conditioning. Some may have a shared bathroom down the hall.
Price: Expect to pay 50€ to 150€ for a budget room in Paris. The price will vary depending upon the location and season.
Location: For me it’s important to be near a metro and or bus line that gets me where I want to go. Easy access to and from the airport is also important. I like to be near restaurants and shops too – but this describes most of central Paris.
Amenities: I don’t need much if I’m just looking for a place to sleep. I do prefer an en-suite bathroom and I’d like to have an elevator if I’m more than 2 floors up. I prefer a tub with a shower over those telephone booth sized showers. Free wifi is more important to me than having a TV in the room. You’ll need to decide what is important to you.
What do the stars really mean?
The official French hotel star ratings have little to do with the luxury of a property and are based on the amenities offered. For most budget travelers a 2 or 3 star hotel will more than meet your needs – and in some cases a 2-star may actually be “nicer” than a 3-star. I tend to search by price – and don’t worry so much about the star rating.
A Sample of "On a Dime" Hotels
My favorite hotel search site for Paris is www.france-hotel-guide.com I find the site easy to use and I like that it provides links to the hotel reviews from Trip Advisor. Below I've listed a sample of well-reviewed budget hotels. Rates and availability may vary based on your actual dates of travel.
Less than 100€
Lux Hotel Picpus - Located in the 12th arrondissement. Superior room from 73€
Hotel France Albion - Located near Opera. Double room from 80€
l'Hotel Particulier - Studio apartments located near the Bastille from 50€
Nadaud Hotel - Near Pere LaChaise in the trendy 20th arrondissement. Double room from 64€
Hotel Metropolitan - Located in the 11th, Oberkampf area. Double room from 75€
Hotel Aviatic - Good St. Germain location, near Luxembourg Gardens. Double Room from 99€
Less than 150€
Hotel du College de France - Well located in the Latin Quarter, Double room with balcony as low as 110€
Hotel des Grandes Ecoles - Convenient Latin Quarter location, Double room from 130€
Hotel Saint Merry - Central location in the Marais, Double room from 130€
Hotel St. Jacques - Latin Quarter. Double room from 130€
Hotel Cujas Pantheon - Latin Quarter. Double room from 105€
Hotel Crayon - Near the Louvre. Double room from 101€
How to choose a Vacation Apartment
For longer stays I like staying in an apartment. Many rentals are available for a minimum of 7 nights, some will allow shorter stays. Because of the less-flexible check-in and check-out procedures and extra work involved, I would not suggest choosing an apartment unless you are staying at least 5 nights. I would also not recommend an apartment for a first-time visit unless you have experience with vacation rentals.
I would suggest using a well-known agency, as these apartments will be professionally managed and well-priced compared to hotels. For the more experienced, VRBO and Airbnb can be good options, but more due diligence is required.
Suggested "On a Dime" Apartments
Paris-Sharing - Represents Adrian Leeds' Apartments and other Paris properties.
Vacation in Paris - U.S. based agency. In most cases you will receive keys in advance. best to call with requirements to find out what's available.
Paris Best Lodge - Paris based. Known to have excellent customer support. Very popular - advance booking required.
Airbnb - Look for Airbnb verified photos and several good reviews. Avoid apartments with prior host cancellations.
VRBO - Look for realistic and recent positive reviews. A full calendar can be a good sign.