By Theadora Brack in Paris—
I was so adorable and well-behaved at the age of three that the man sitting next to us in the dining room at the Congress Hotel in Cape May, New Jersey, reached over and gave me a dollar. I was infatuated with hotels from that moment on.
Ever since that first seaside jaunt, I’ve obsessively sought out funky, campy, grand and sometimes abandoned hotels and motels, leaving no historical, gossipy tidbit or photo-op with a retro roadside sign behind.
So when EuroCheapo asked me to update the Paris hotel listings, how I could say no? I love hotels. There, I’ve said it.
Hotel reviewing is like matchmaking. It’s complicated! Goldilocks lives inside all of us. Besides, individual tastes and standards differ. So to help you find the room of your dreams, I’ve listed my favorite hotels in Paris, along with the Cheapo-types who could possibly love them.
But keep in mind a few things. In Paris, most of the rooms are small. That’s just a fact of life. So just do like the French do and don’t plan to hole up in your hotel—spend more time at a café instead!
However, if there’s a real problem with the room, always start off with a “bonjour,” and a little tenderness. As my grandmother would say, “you get more bees with honey.” Helen would also quip, “leave the baggage at home,” and, no, she wasn’t talking about the canvas or leather kind. So take heed and open both heart and mind!
Now, which kind of Cheapo are you?
Hey, Jack Kerouac!
For example, do you see yourself as a Jack Kerouac seeking “Satori in Paris?” Well then,
Grand Hôtel du Loiret, the Hôtel Louvre Richelieu, the Hotel du Commerce and the Hôtel Cluny Sorbonne offer rooms that are basic but affordable with central locations that can’t be beat for a big revelation and a little revelry.
Take me to funky town
Backpackers, times are a-changing. Paris’ current crop of hostels sports a new-fangled, club-like attitude but with a funky, playground twist.
Pinching from Donna Summer, I definitely “felt the love” at the shabby-sleek Hôtel Absolute, the Plug-Inn Hostel, and the Woodstock Hostel—where half of a Volkswagen Beetle embedded in the wall of its lobby (a shrine to peace) kept us moving, kept us grooving with some energy.
Got to move on. Got to move on.
Get Draper on the horn, and Peggy Olsen, too. Advertising is based on one thing: happiness.
And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the sweet, gentle swagger of the Grand Hôtel Lévêque’s deluxe rooms. It’s freedom from fear. It’s their mod Philippe Starck-worthy chairs and leather headboards that scream reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay. Here in its swanky lounge room, you’ll also be able to change the conversation, if don’t like what they’re saying. Touché, Mr. Whitman.
And you know it? Pack your fountain pen. We want you, and Lonely Hearts, too. Like visionary poet and globetrotter Rimbaud, head to the Hôtel Cluny Sorbonne straightaway, where the Vie de Bohème can still be found in its reflection-inducing garret rooms.
Here in room 62 is where Rimbaud composed the ultimate break-up, “he’s just not into you” opus, upon his fiery return to Paris in 1872. And speaking of another Rimbaud poem, “Eternité,” do keep a watch for spirits! The hotel is rumored to be haunted.
Hooray for Hollywood!
Playing it again and again, their Casablanca-worthy bars also got me half-expecting an old flame to walk through the door, muttering on about all the gin joints in the world—while Sam (Dooley Wilson) played on as time goes (sigh).
And speaking of soft focus Hollywood endings, the Hôtel du 7e Art is a fantastical shrine to cinema.
You know who you are.
Honeymooners and paramours: the three-star Hôtel Beaubourg also seduces, but with décor that is so deliciously frou-frou and inviting that you just might not want to leave the room forever and ever.
Stepping out with your baby, along with a coveted copy of the June 1961 issue of Paris Match with Jackie Kennedy on the cover in a yellow pillbox hat, the still swanky Hôtel Royal Cardinal’s 1960s exterior signage certainly will catch your eye.
Setting the ring-a-ding scene from the get-go, you’ll also get a kick out of the joint from top to bottom. Its rooms are perfect for good old-fashioned postcard writing and crazy witchcraft. Stop. Was that Frankie?
Following not on the heels of the millionaires but movie stars, the roaring Twenties is when the freshly bobbed, Francophile flappers made it to the City of Light.
So start packing your raccoon coats because the Hôtel Lyon-Mulhouse is the real McCoy. On the up and up, it opened with a big bang during the “Années Folles,” but still hasn’t lost its Jazz Age groove or views of Bastille. It’s also just a hop, skip and jump away from a string of bars and clubs, so get your glad rags and your wiggle on, Josephine Baker.
Lastly, are you a teacher or traveling with a family obsessed with the Eiffel Tower?
Here’s a tip: The 1930s-inspired Hôtel Eber Mars, named after the Champs de Mars Park at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and Monsieur Eber (the charismatic proprietor and resident curator, historian and former bellhop) is the place for you. Ask about the special family rate!
Monsieur Eber is not only an expert on the Eiffel Tower (and the rest of Paris), but he’s also a flea market guru, so feel free to ask him anything you want to know!
More help with Paris hotels
But wait! We’re just getting started. For more help choosing the right hotel for your trip, be sure to check out these articles:
How to find the right hotel in Paris: From 1-star to 4-star (not to mention no-stars), we’ll break down the differences in types of hotels in Paris, and help you choose the right neighborhood.
Read this before you book: 20 things to consider before booking your hotel room.