There is no need to introduce the capital of France to you – dozens of millions of tourists come here yearly, having a pretty good idea of what they want to see in Paris and its Faubourgs (suburbs). Of course, all of the visitors have to stay somewhere. However, hotels in Paris do not pamper travelers with availability and service: accommodation is very expensive here, and paying 120–150 euros per room would not guarantee you all the comfort you are used to. The room can easily be a small chamber right under the roof with no working shower and a coffee-and-croissant breakfast. To avoid this you have to be very careful when choosing the hotel.
There is hardly any sense in staying beyond the city center in Paris: it will be too expensive and it will take too much time for you to reach the main sights from the commuter areas and suburbs. That's why I recommend paying attention only to those hotels which are located within proximity to tourist attractions. You won't have any problem with that a hotel will point out in the description that it's located, let's say, just 300-400 feet from the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe, or another landmark. It is especially important if you go to Paris for the first time – there is less chance to get lost in the city searching for your hotel.
What Area is the Best to Stay in Paris?
Paris has twenty districts, and it's preferable to pick one of the hotels in the first nine districts. However, there are good hotels in other districts as well, that's why it makes sense to take into account not the district alone but rather how conveniently the hotel is located in the district or the quarter.
Below we will take a closer look at the following districts and quarters of Paris:
The most central district in Paris is called Louvre (this is the first district; booking websites often refer to it as Louvre-Châtelet). As the name suggests, the main part of the district is actually taken up by the Louvre Museum, as well as the adjacent Tuileries Garden, a part of the Rue de Rivoli, Place Vendôme and Palais Royal. If you stay in this district you will be able to enjoy the ultimate benefit – having a great number of attractions just within walking distance of your hotel, not to mention that your room might face the Louvre, and you will live in some historically significant building. Plus, Rue de Rivoli accommodates a lot of stores, cafes and restaurants.
Of course, there are also disadvantages and sometimes they are tough to overlook. The cost of accommodation in this district can be really high 120-180 euros per night and even more for, let’s be honest here, quite modest services. Often you might find out that the hotel does not live up to its description and photos on the website. Most of the buildings in the area are quite old, that’s why some of them don’t have an elevator, and you will have to drag your luggage upstairs – not much fun! If you are used to spacious bathrooms, you might be disappointed because most of the hotels in this district have really small bathrooms which would be fine if not for the lack of hot water and water pressure. Besides, you should take into account that not all hotels in this area have air-conditioned rooms (which is crucial if you come to Paris in summer), plus, you can easily hear everything that is happening in the adjacent room, and the furniture in the rooms is quite battered.
To prevent yourself from getting into something you'd rather avoid, always check the tourists’ reviews on hotel booking websites: fellow-travelers will not stay silent if they notice something of the above-mentioned in the hotel. Despite the overall presentability of the district, I wouldn’t recommend staying in the quarter around the Forum des Halles – in the evenings it looks a bit depressing and I am kind of suspicious about teenage crowds sometimes aggressive ones hanging around.
In the Louvre district you can turn attention, for example, to the hotel Mansart with spacious rooms and bathrooms, or to the cute designer Hôtel O Paris by Elegancia with colorful rooms, or to the cozy Le Relais Saint Honoré. If you prefer to do your own cooking on your trips, and want to feel as a true Parisian, you should take a closer look to apartments, such as Appart Hotel Musée du Louvre, where you'll have a fully-equipped kitchen and a washing machine at your disposal. If your budget is unlimited, Hôtel De Vendôme facing the Place Vendôme can be a great choice.
Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde is located next to the Louvre district. That's the beginning of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. I believe that as far as pedestrian walks goes this is the best place to live in the center of Paris: the Louvre is just a ten-minute walk away via the Tuileries Garden; from here you can go both to the L'hôtel des Invalides, and to the Musée d’Orsay, not to mention that the Eiffel Tower is within easy reach. However, you should try to avoid hotels/rooms that face the Place de la Concorde as it is one of the noisiest squares in Paris. It is recommended to pick a hotel further in the district – the place will be quieter because many streets are closed to through traffic. The district accommodates a number of grocery stores and lots of charming cafes where you can enjoy your morning coffee or breakfast. Based on my personal experience I can recommend a nice hotel New Hotel Roblin, located next to the Madeleine Church (l'église de la Madeleine): for example, our room with a small balcony had a spacious bathroom facing the courtyard.
To stay in the area of the Champs-Élysées, the avenue that stretches from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, is quite exciting as well. If you choose to stay not far from the Place de la Concorde you might end up in a traditional Parisian house with a mansard, so don’t say ‘no’ to the upper floor because you might be lucky to have a nice mansard or a balcony in your room. If you go along the Avenue des Champ Elysees heading to the Arc de Triomphe you will see a lot of stores – the heaven for shopaholics, and the area around the Arc de Triomphe represents quite a traditional quarter with an overwhelming number of grocery stores. This area is a good choice for accommodation if you have come to Paris for shopping and/or if you plan to explore beyond central districts (if you want to visit the Abbey of Saint Denis or Château de Vincennes): there is St. Lazare station nearby where five metro lines meet, besides there are shops of the Champs-Élysées and Rue St. Honore in the close proximity.
You can take a closer look at the hotel Wo Wilson-Opera by Elegancia, its location is extremely beneficial for shopping, or you can choose the chain hotel Best Western Premier Opera Diamond, a good starting point for walks to the Louvre or the Montmartre. Another good accommodation option, in my opinion, is Golden Tulip Royal Garden Champs-Elysees, where we had a nice and quiet spacious room with the garden on the balcony. The room was very quiet, even despite an open window no noise from the streets could reach the room. Hotel Arioso is exquisite with its courtyard and spiral stairs, the balcony with a table and a chair, and walls upholstered in chintz which is so Parisian. If you want to stay in a hotel within easy reach from the Arc de Triomphe I can recommend Hotel Duret in a quiet non-crowded location but with the advantage of a close-by supermarket and a variety of stores.
A very popular place to stay is the Latin Quarter (Quartier latin) where Sorbonne, one of the oldest universities in the world, is located. The main tourist attractions of the district are the Pantheon, Jardin du Luxembourg and Thermes de Cluny. This district seems calm and homelike even despite a large number of tourists enjoying the beauty of the Jardin du Luxembourg, here you can often meet old ladies walking dogs or hurrying home with a baguette. Not far from the university there are lots of reasonably priced bistros, which are targeted mainly at students, but can also accommodate tourists searching to save a few euros. There are also stores in the district, and when we talk stores we don’t mean grocery ones only, here you can find antiquarian books and antique stores. The Île de la Cité and Louvre attractions are within a stone's throw away from the Latin Quarter – you just have to cross the bridge. In this area I like the hotel Villa Pantheon, just a quarter away from the Pantheon, decorated in the pre-war style; but of course there are a number of other good hotel options in this district.
Another good district to choose for staying in Paris over your trip is the area around the station Montparnasse. There are less tourist attractions here compared to the ones in the city center, but there are still landmarks worth seeing: a high watch tower from where one can see the entire Paris, and the graveyard of the same time, that gathers as many visitors as the famous Père Lachaise. The area around the station (let me remind you that Paris has seven railway stations) is not what you would expect from a “near-station” area, it is quite a decent district where you don’t have to worry about being outside in the late evening or an early morning. The main advantage of the district is a good infrastructure: a good number of grocery stores, a large shopping center next to the station exit, so you won’t stay hungry and can even make some great purchases.
A relative disadvantage of the area is its remoteness from the center, but for those who like walking, it shouldn’t be an issue just in 20-25 minutes you can reach the Eiffel Tower, and in 15-20 minutes you will find yourself in the Jardin du Luxembourg. I can recommend a state of the art hotel Concorde Montparnasse in this district where we got a room facing the fountains (we often choose the hotels of this chain in Europe and have always been more than satisfied). Hotel Waldorf Montparnasse where we also have stayed on one of our trips is situated just opposite the Montparnasse tower rooms here are relatively small but cozy. You can also choose to stay closer to the Catacombs (they are within a 15-minute walk from the station). It can be deemed as convenient because the special bus from the Orly airport (Orlybus) has a stop at the catacombs square and you can spend the night here (in the hotel, not in the catacombs), and then move to the station the next day and start exploring Paris and surroundings. Here my recommendation is the hotel Best Western Nouvel Orleans with spacious (as far as Paris hotels concerns) rooms with balconies.
Let me dive into the topic of Paris railway stations – as I said earlier, there are seven of them in Paris, and to stay in their area is the best choice if you only plan to be in Paris for a day/night only and have to head somewhere else the next day. Another accommodation option is to stay in different hotels in Paris on your trip if you have enough time. For example, you can stay in the city center while you explore the main tourist attractions, but before you go, let’s say, to Tours, Rheims, and Amiens, you can move closer to the railway station, so that you don’t have to wake up way too early on the day of departure but would rather have a quiet morning and maybe even just walk to the station. The districts around railway stations are not gruesome as many people might think; to the contrary, they are rather middle-class – the same houses with mansards like in the city center. If your train from Paris departs from the Gare de Lyon or from the Gare d'Austerlitz, I can recommend the hotel Villa Lutèce Port Royal, just a ten-minute walk away from both stations. It’s a cozy hotel, a little cramped but it’s rather charming than disturbing.
Montmartre and Marais are two more quite popular districts in Paris.
Montmartre is one of the most picturesque districts in Paris. From olden times it welcomed painters, poets, writers, and journalists (many of them, by the way, moved to the above-mentioned Montparnasse.) Nowadays, you will find here lots of shops, selling all sorts of things, and overpriced (in my opinion) cafes and restaurants which shamelessly use the popularity of the district to their advantage. Montmartre is great for taking a walk and buying small things along the way, but I would not recommend picking an accommodation here – you can often come across individuals who seem to want to snatch your bag after entangling you with colorful threads, you can meet beggars, and in the evenings a number of red lights establishments and adult stores open their doors for customers.
District Marais is situated closer to the center, in the 3rd and 4th districts of Paris, and is considered ultra-fashionable, or you can also say they “it” district, not least because gay community took fancy to this area. You can find here a couple of the “real Parisian” streets where you can easily stumble upon a half-timber house; besides, it is not more than just a fifteen-minute walk away from the center. The strategic location of the district is amazing, however, I believe the district itself is very overpriced, and you could find faults with some hotels, even those recommended by city guides, such as Hotel de la Bretonnerie, for example, (if you come late to breakfast, you might miss out on pastry), but then the hotel is so cozy that you wouldn’t really like to complain about such negligible matters.
La Défense Quarter
If it is not your first time in Paris you can round out the picture by staying in a district you have not explored yet, for example, in the La Défense, or Manhattan in Paris. It is a good opportunity to check out the place you have never had time to visit. Here you can find great shopping areas and contemporary art monuments. At the same time this district is well connected by the public transportation with the city center. Hotels in La Défense are all up-to-date, with spacious rooms; sometimes you can book a great room with complimentary breakfast for just 110-130 euros, which is a great price for Paris. I particularly recommend paying attention to the Hilton Paris La Defense, where you can choose pillows for your room in advance, and buy Paris metro pass without having to stay in lines.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Hotel in Paris
In conclusion I would like to sum up some of the characteristic features of the hotels in Paris. You should understand that Paris is crowded with t ourists, and hotels’ staff often is not really interested to welcome you with open arms and to treat you as their favorite guests (there are so many tourists, why put an extra effort here?), but they will answer most of your questions and they do their job – checking you into the room – well. Breakfasts in most of Parisian hotels are meager and aren’t really worth the money paid: if the breakfast costs 6 to 8 euros per person, most probably, you will just get a coffee and a croissant. For 12-15 euros you might get cornflakes, maybe some fruits and cheese as an addition. There are exceptions, of course, but it makes sense to go for breakfast to some nearby cafes instead, seeing that there is no lack thereof in Paris. A kettle or a coffee maker in the room is rather an exception; you will hardly find them in any hotels. If you prefer travelling by car you have to remember that using a car is not the best way to move around the French capital, you better leave the car and use public transportation or a bike.