I embarked on an off-beat hotel trail and wandered the cobbled streets of the city in search of alluring homes away from home in Paris. I suppose this little guide might also come in handy from now on when I’m asked, “Can you suggest a charming and inexpensive hotel in Paris?”. For budgets of all kinds, this is what MessyNessy found…
Bohemian Chateau Chic
The Marais House
Rates: Around 300 euros a night during high season, ideal for a special stay in Paris.
- To be in a superb location in the heart of the trendy Marais district, just two blocks from the Musée de Pompidou and a few doors down from the oldest extant house in Paris dating from 1407.
- To stay in a restored 16th century city chateau that could be used for a film set (it often has been). It was formerly a gold-leaf atelier where artisans crafted traditional lettered facades for storefronts.
- Comfortable, eclectic, large studio apartment sized rooms.
- Two chocolate labradors living in-house to play with.
Do NOT Expect:
- To know the exact location of the hotel until you’ve made a reservation. The Marais House is one of Paris’ best-kept secrets.
- The hotel to be crowded. There are only four rooms in this five-story b&b.
- Typical hotel decor. The Marais House is a treasure chest of unique antiques, Venetian painted walls and 17th century stone fireplaces.
Website: The Marais House
A Five-Star Paris Location on a Tiny Budget
Hotel Henri IV
Rates: Starting 72 euros per night
- To be staying on the most beautiful square in Paris with examples of the city’s most stunning architecture and coveted real estate, and where none other than Johnny Depp keeps his pied-à-terre. Place Dauphine is right on the tip of an island on the Seine River.
- To see locals adorably playing petanques at twilight and generally embodying that whole joie-de-vivre attitude.
- Several restaurants on the square, all perfectly picturesque, including the wonderful Caveau de Palais where you can splurge on the wine since you’re saving on the hotel! (Johnny Depp is a regular, you might sit at the far left table on the outdoor terrace next to his doorway and greet him on his way out!)
Do NOT Expect:
- Luxury. This hotel is for Paris visitors that aren’t interested in spending much time in a hotel room. It’s a homely nest in Paris however, where you instantly feel welcome. The views from your window will instantly make-up for any shortcomings of the room.
- To feel unsafe. If you are staying alone in Paris, perhaps as a writer doing research on a budget, this is ideal. The neighbourhood is the best in Paris and you will never feel unsafe walking around and enjoying the square at night.
- An elevator. The windy staircase is charming but perhaps a little challenging for some.
Website: Hotel Henri IV
Dreamy 1960s Parisian Kitsch
Hotel du Temps
Rates starting from: 120 euros per night
- To be situated on a pretty square in the 9th arrondissement and surrounded by some very cool restaurants in a very hip little corner of Paris.
- Unique furniture, vintage kitschy drapes and lighting.
- To go a little crazy on the gourmet pastries at tea time.
- To want to move in or at least take the curtains home with you.
Do NOT expect:
- To come down to an empty lobby in the evening. The ground floor bar hots up with locals from 6pm, and a soon to open basement lounge will attract Parisians looking for a chilled-out soirées.
- To get a free breakfast. That’ll cost you 10 euros extra.
- To get a room during fashion week or last-minute during high season. With only 23 rooms, this is not a hotel for last-minute bookings.
Website: Hotel du Temps
A Honeymoon in Paris
Hotel Particulier de Montmartre:
Rates: Ideal if someone else is paying for your honeymoon! Rooms start at 390 euros per night.
- To be staying in a beautiful and luxurious villa nestled among trees in Montmartre that used to belong to the Hermès family.
- A secret private bar appropriately named, Très Particulier, where David, the New York bar tender will fix you any drink you can think up from the past or present.
- Lush design, we’re talking dripping crystal, gilded mirrors, and tufted walls.
Do NOT Expect:
- To not get any exercise. Located in the heart of historic Montmartre, the hotel is accessed from Rue Lepic via a set of typically steep Montmartre stairs.
- A crowded hotel: there are only 5 suites.
18th century Time Travellers
Caron de Beaumarchais***
Rates: Double bed overlooking the courtyard, 145 Euros, frontside larger rooms, 185 Euros
- To feel like you might have interrupted Beaumarchais as he is finishing his final act of “The Marriage of Figaro”. A rare piano forte of 1792, a card table that appears to have been abandoned mid play, a fireplace, music stand, candles and chandeliers recreate the atmosphere of a private townhouse in the time of Beaumarchais and Mozart.
- Something totally French. All 19 rooms reflect the taste of the art of living invented in Paris in the 18th century.
- One of the most central locations. If you like the trendy Marais, this is the place to stay (and you’re just minutes from the best Falafel in the world from the old Jewish quarter).
Do NOT Expect:
- Breakfast to be included. But it is served until midday (quite rare with hotels) and costs 13 Euros extra.
- To find the rooms particularly large, the smallest rooms overlook the courtyard, and the top-floor rooms are very small, but have panoramic balcony views across the Right Bank.
- To find this hotel anything but charming.
Website: Caron de Beaumarchais
Rates: Doubles start at 150 euros (reservations best done over the phone to choose a room theme)
- An untouristed 20-room theme hotel hiding in an undistinguished lane near the red-light district of Pigalle that was once a serviceable, pay-by-the hour establishment.
- Rooms adorned with romance novels, erotic art and old photo magazines.
- A good-looking hipster crowd and the surrounding charm of 9th arrondissement. Owned partly by the proprietors of the nightclub Le Baron (not that it should matter), the place has become a darling of the international fashion and rock ’n’ roll set.
Do NOT Expect:
- Phones, televisions or Internet access in the rooms (said to be too distracting for lovers. But there’s an iPod connection in every room and wireless Internet service in the public spaces).
- Groveling servants
- To feel like a tourist
www.hotelamourparis.fr, 8 Rue Navarin, 9 eme arrondissement
Luxury Beyond the Four Seasons Hotel Chain (that’s far less boring)
Rates: Last minute offers for a “petite mignon” room from 250 Euros and a “chic’ room from 510 Euros.
- To feel like you’ve walked into one of the best kept secrets in Paris. Once Oscar Wilde’s hangout who lived there until his death, as well as being a hideaway to Salvador Dali, Princess Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor.
- To be able to swim in a private pool, a favourite of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis who come to rent out the hammam pool beneath the underground vaulted arches.
- To want to discover every room.
- To be located right smack in the centre of a very sophisticated part Saint-Germain-des-Pres, surrounded by some of the city’s most interesting little art galleries.
Do NOT Expect:
- Very large rooms. The hotel is intimate and lavishly decorated but does not boast massive space for cartwheels in the bedrooms.
- Noise. This is certainly not the place you’ll find screaming babies in the lobby or overly boisterous fellow guests.
www.l-hotel.com, 13 Rue des Beaux Arts, 6eme Arrondissement
An Affordable Secret Getaway
Hotel des Grandes Ecoles***
Rates: 118- 145 euros for two people (ask for a room with a garden courtyard view)
- To feel like you are miles away from a city, in the midst of the countryside
- To in fact be on the doorstep of Ernest Hemingway’s old apartment in Paris, minutes from the Latin quarters, les Jardins Luxembourg and the Pantheon.
- To be feet away one of the most charming street markets in Paris, Rue Mouffetard.
- To be surrounded by adorable, quintessentially French restaurants (try L’Ecurie).
- To eat breakfast in a gorgeous courtyard.
- To find this hotel romantic, beautiful and homely.
Do NOT Expect
- Extreme luxury. Think more charming countryside bed & breakfast (in the heart of Paris).
- A particularly strong WIFI connection – you’ll probably have to sit in the courtyard to get on the net with your laptop… how torturous!
- A television (do you really need one in Paris?)
HOTEL DES GRANDES ECOLES
75, rue Cardinal Lemoine 75005 Paris
Quiet & Cosy
Rates: If you have 136 euros to spend and don’t mind a cosy room, then ask for one of the five small doubles at the Hôtel Verneuil, James Baldwin’s old hangout. (Larger rooms start at 163 euros.)
- The oozing of elegance and romance on a quiet little backstreet.
- Very tasteful decoration. The owner has splashed the public spaces with color, adorning them with wonderful prints and eye-popping textiles. Many of the rooms have original wood beams, and all the baths are done in tawny marble.
- A stroll down the Seine just two blocks away
- Cocktails in the afternoon
- To be close to the Louvre museum (very central)
- To be on the doorstep of Serge Gainsbourg’s former residence, untouched since his death.
Do NOT Expect
- Large rooms. As I said, it’s perfect for quiet and cosy. Cuddle time.
www.hotelverneuil.com , 8 Rue de Verneuil, 7eme Arrondissement
Bohemian Chic at Student Rates
Hotel El Dorado * (Only one star but so much more)
Rates: Double rooms are 70 to 75 Euros
- One of the best cheap hotels in Paris with press recommendations from Elle and Marie Claire.
- A cheerful, hipster and quirky atmosphere, great for meeting other young and fearless travelers passing through.
- Shabby chic al Fresco dining. Half of the rooms overlook the hotel’s small bamboo garden and wine bistro– make the most of it in spring/ summer.
- Inspiring decor. With furnishing and art from the flea markets and the streets of India, Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa, the rooms and public spaces have a ‘we-are-the-world’ feel.
Do NOT Expect:
- To have the Eiffel Tower on your doorstep. The hotel is located in the 17th arrondissement, north west of the central sites of Paris. You are however, a ten minutes walk from Monmartre (you know that charming hilltop area where the cult French film Amelie was filmed). The Champs Elysee is 20 minutes on the subway and a metro stop is just a minute walk from the hotel.
- The amenities of a four star hotel. This is truly a bohemian traveler’s hotel. There are no telephones or televisions in the rooms, no elevator, no air-conditioning, and 10 of the 33 rooms share toilets (if that freaks you out, just ask for an en suite room– prices will still be a bargain).
Haute Couture in a Boulangerie
Hotel du Petit Moulin****
Rates: Standard double, 190 Euros and a superior for 250 Euros
- More than just an old bread shop. The hotel is built on the site of a former boulangerie dating back to 1900 and before that, a seventeenth century mill. The facade as well as the shop sign of the boulangerie have been preserved, making this hotel front extremely unique and picturesque.
- To feel like your hotel has been designed by a haute couture designer. Because it has. Christian Lacroix designed the seventeen room boutique hotel which he describes as a dollhouse of “seventeen ambiences that correspond to the seventeen ways of enjoying the Marais”.
- To be in the hippest area of Paris of course, Le Marais.
- Room massages on request.
Do NOT Expect:
- A full restaurant, although breakfast is available in a charming little bar room.
- To know what kind of room you will end up with. But do expect it to be exotic, unexpected and delicious.
www.paris-hotel-petitmoulin.com , 29/31 rue du Poitou, 3eme Arrondissement
(And I’ll keep updating this list as I go!)