20 Things to Consider When Choosing a Hotel in Paris

Aside from location and price, what else should you consider when choosing a hotel in Paris? Well, having visited hundreds of hotels in the city, we have a few nuggets of advice.

Pour yourself a drink and read on...

1. Air conditioning

Most one and two-star hotels won’t have it, while three stars (and up) will. Do you need it? In most circumstances, no. Air conditioning is not nearly as ubiquitous in Paris as it is in the United States, and many residences are not air conditioned. Most one and two-star hotels will make fans available during the hottest summer months. The occasional heat wave, however, does strike the city (including the tragic summer of 2003), but these are exceptional occurrences.

2. Bathrooms

Most hotels in Paris on EuroCheapo are equipped with a private bath. Many of these are quite compact, especially in older buildings where they were added to rooms that originally did not have bathrooms. Most hotels provide shower gel or soap, and shampoo.

In photo, left: Newly renovated bathrooms at the two-star Prince Albert Louvre are downright posh. Did we mention it's minutes from the Louvre? (Doubles €109-120)

3. Beds

In one and two-star hotels, double beds are usually a US “full” or “queen”-size. Three-star hotels usually offer queen-size beds, but some may offer larger king-sized beds. When booking the hotel, the reservation Web site will probably mention the bed size.

Twin beds (smaller beds for one person) are also available in rooms for two people. Single travelers are often given a small double bed.

4. Breakfast

In most cases, breakfast is not included in the room rate. For Paris hotels, breakfast is usually not a great deal, as they tend to be “continental” affairs, consisting of a piece of baguette, croissant, coffee or tea, and glass of orange juice. For this you may pay €8-12. You can usually get the same thing (with better coffee) for cheaper at a nearby cafe.

Tip: If you grab breakfast (or just coffee) at a cafe, it’s always cheaper to eat and drink at the counter than it is to sit at a table.

In photo: At the Hotel Marignan in the Latin Quarter, not only does the hotel provide a Continental breakfast for free (rare in Paris), but they offer guests use of the kitchen. (Doubles €64-103)

5. Check-in hours

Hotels usually state that their check-in is sometime in the afternoon, usually around 3 or 4 p.m. This allows their cleaning staff to get rooms ready. If you arrive earlier (which is very common when you’re coming in from a Transatlantic flight) and there are no rooms available to accommodate you, it’s common to leave your luggage in a side room and return when the rooms are ready.

Tip: If you arrive early, the receptionist may offer you a room that’s free. Ask about the room—it may be the worst room in the hotel, which is purposely the last one rented out. It may be worth it to wander around deliriously if it means scoring a better room.

6. Elevator

Most two-star hotels and up are equipped with an elevator. In two and three-star hotels, however, these may have been added long after the building was constructed, and thus may be laughably small. Indeed, some hotel elevators are so small that they can only fit one person in them... holding her breath.

Tip: Light sleepers may wish to ask for a room away from the elevator, which may buzz, crank and whiz all night long (we’ve been there!).

In photo: The staircase at the incredible (and incredibly old) Hotel Esmeralda, with rooms facing Notre Dame. Needless to say, the hotel does not have an elevator. (Doubles €95-110)

7. Floor

Would you prefer a lower floor or a higher floor? We usually like to be on a higher floor, especially if we’re asking for a street view. (This is always easier, of course, if there’s an elevator.) Make this preference known when reserving, not when arriving. If the hotel is on a busy street, ask for a higher floor to avoid street noise.

8. Noise

Do rooms have any sort of soundproofing? Ironically, many buildings constructed as hotels in the 20th century may have worse soundproofing than older, creaky one and two-star hotels, which could have much thicker walls. Are windows soundproofed? If you don’t have air conditioning in your room and plan to sleep with windows open, will it be noisy?

Tip: Pack earplugs if noise prevents you from sleeping. (If you forget, you can always pick them up at a pharmacy.)

In photo: The Hotel Saint Andre-des-Arts dates back to the 16th century. Those walls are thick--which cuts down on noise. Just don't expect an elevator! (Doubles €96-103)

9. Pets

Many hotels in Paris do not allow pets to stay in the rooms. If this is a concern, do your research and even call a hotel in advance to confirm. Some hotels allow only “small” dogs (although who’s judging?). Many hotels that do allow pets charge a small extra fee.

10. Reception hours

Most two-star properties (and all three and four-star hotels) have 24-hour receptions. Many of the one-star hotels (and some two-star) in Paris close their reception in the evening, leaving guests with a key for entry.

In photo, above: At the charming, ivy-covered Hotel du Nord near Republique, the reception closes before midnight. Guests, however, are free to come and go with their room key. (Doubles €71-85)

11. Renovated rooms

You may read in a review that the hotel offers “renovated” and “unrenovated” (sometimes referred to, euphemistically as “classic”) rooms. It may be worth it to spend a few more euros on the renovated rooms, if it means improved amenities, bathroom, and soundproofing.

In photo, right: The Jeff Hotel, near Grands Boulevards, offers both renovated rooms (pictured) and unrenovated rooms. (Renovated doubles: €89-139)

12. Safe

Almost every hotel provides either a safe in the room (common in three-star and up) or at the front desk (one and two-star hotels). Some are big enough to fit a laptop inside, but this is not common.

Residence du Palais13. Showers or bathtub?

Most hotels that we’ve reviewed in Paris offer bathrooms with either showers or tubs. If you have a preference, you should ask when reserving. For most one-, two- and three-star hotels, showers do tend to be pretty tight, but they do the job.

In photo, left: The one-star Résidence du Palais offers rooms with showers, but they share toilets in the hallway. (Doubles €65-80)

14. Size of room

Hotel rooms in Paris are generally pretty small. First-time visitors to Europe (especially from the United States) are often surprised by the compact size of the rooms. Rooms usually fit a double bed (with space on both sides), a small table or desk with chair, and some sort of armoire or closet for stowing your clothes. Spacious rooms are so uncommon that we always make a note of it in our review.

15. Smoking

Smoking has been banned in Paris’ hotels since 2008. However, that hasn’t prevented patrons from lighting up in their rooms, or kept some proprietors from leaving ashtrays in their rooms.

For the most part, however, smoking is not tolerated in the rooms, although many hotels have some sort of courtyard or garden that is accessible to smokers. We note in our reviews when a hotel allows smoking.

In photo, right: We truly love the Hotel des Boulevards, with its rock-bottom rates and hip location near Metro Bonne Nouvelle. Some guests may not love the fact that they still place ashtrays in the room, however. (Doubles €55-70)

16. Street side or courtyard

Most hotels offer rooms that look to a street or face an interior courtyard, garden or (least romantically) air shaft. Light sleepers usually do better asking for a room on the courtyard, although these can be darker (depending on the hotel), and, in the case of the aforementioned air shaft, depressing. We usually ask for a room looking out to the street (on a higher floor to cut down on noise).

In photo, above: The Hotel Alhambra, near République and the Oberkampf neighborhood, offers rooms facing the street or a very large outdoor garden out back. This type of large garden is unusual in Paris. (Doubles €75-94)

17. Telephone

With the near-ubiquity of personal cell phones, telephones in hotel rooms seem much less important today than they once did. However, most hotels still equip their rooms with a phone, which is convenient for reaching the front desk, making local calls, and receiving calls.

Tip: If you plan to use a program such as Skype and the hotel's Wi-Fi to call home during your trip, you may be cursed with a lousy connection (trust us, it happens all the time). Instead of enduring a frustrating call, have the person you’re talking to call the hotel and be put through to your room instead. (With Skype, calls to landlines in Europe cost about 1 cent per minute.) Now you'll be happy that you have that telephone in your room!

18. Toiletries

Almost every hotel we list provides at least soap and shampoo in their bathrooms. For three-star (and up) properties, hotels generally get fancier with their toiletries, sometimes providing expensive French cosmetic brands. (Don’t leave them behind! They make fun gifts.)

In photo, right: Toiletries await at the two-star Hotel du Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower. (Doubles €100)

19. TV

Only in one-star hotels are TVs not standard, and even then, some super-cheap hotels will offer a TV. (When they don’t, the one-star hotel usually has a “TV lounge.”) Flat-screen TVs are now the norm, and most offer satellite channels, including some English-language channels (including the BBC and CNN).

Note: Some hotels, like the Eldorado, pride themselves in their lack of TV. It certainly does keep things quieter!

20. Wi-Fi

Wireless internet connections are pretty standard these days, and offered by even the cheapest properties. Wi-Fi connections are not always free. Ironically, one and two-star hotels often give it away for free, while three and four-star hotels sometimes (but not always) charge for the Wi-Fi, which pads the bill a bit.

Also note that not all Wi-Fi connections are created equal. Our favorite hotels place wireless routers on every floor to make sure that all rooms are reached. Other hotels will only send out a signal from the reception area, which means that you'll probably have to come downstairs to check the weather.

Read more about where to stay in Paris

About the author: Tom Meyers is the Editor in Chief of EuroCheapo.com.