Parisian lodgings can be many things: charming, opulent, cozy, homey, and even outrageous. But keep in mind the following: Parisian hotel rooms tend to be small. Why do we stress this? Because inevitably, tourists who come from countries where hotel rooms are often staggeringly large (does anyone actually need two king-size beds in a double room?) are shocked when they check in to tiny family hotels in ancient buildings. And it’s not just budget lodgings—even nifty boutique hotels can have snug rooms.
Don’t be too hard on the management, however; most historic Parisian buildings are protected by city regulations that make it difficult, if not impossible, to make structural changes. If you absolutely need room to stretch out, ask for a triple or even a quadruple room (if they’re available). Otherwise, consider an international chain hotel, where space and extra amenities are usually not a problem, or an apartment rental with a separate bedroom.
Unless you are staying in a hotel in our “expensive” category, you should be prepared for minimal amenities. Washcloths are scarce, toiletries can be few, and a few of the smaller hotels still don’t have elevators (and when they do, they’re often closet size). Assume that most guest rooms are large enough to sleep in comfortably, but you’ll have to do your yoga workout somewhere else. All of the rooms in the hotels listed here have in-room bathrooms with toilets, unless otherwise mentioned.
Now that we’ve prepared you for the worst, here’s what Parisian hotels do have (besides charm and personality, bien sûr). Almost all have in-room TVs with cable channels and hair dryers in the bathrooms. Irons and hair dryers (if they are not in the room) can usually be found at the reception desk. Almost all have hotel-wide Wi-Fi.
Most hotel rooms have air-conditioning, which—as climate change sets in making weather less predictable and more extreme—can be a god-send, especially between July and September. Double check if you’re coming in the summer months; there’s nothing worse than a room on a non-air-conditioned top floor facing a noisy street making it impossible to open the windows at night.
Even if Paris isn’t quite as well-connected to the Internet as some other major international cities, free Wi-Fi is available throughout almost all hotels, and there is often a computer or laptop available for guest use in the lobby as well as a printer. Some hotels even loan iPads or laptops to their guests. Wi-Fi is also widely available in restaurants, train stations, and even public gardens.
While a continental breakfast (juice, coffee, or tea, and a croissant and/or baguette) is still the traditional way to start the day, many hotels now also offer a generous buffet that may include various breads, sweet buns, fruit, yogurt, ham, cereal, juice, and sometimes eggs and bacon. A buffet breakfast might seem pricey at somewhere between 15€ to 25€, but keep in mind that a bare bones continental version will usually cost at least 9€. If you are a light eater, you’ll likely spend less and have more fun at the corner cafe. Romantics will appreciate the fact that at most hotels, you can have your breakfast delivered to your room for no extra charge.
Though the listings below show room rates for two people, single rooms are often available for solo travelers at reduced rates. The best tactic is to ask the hotel directly, since they don’t always advertise their smallest rooms, even on their own websites.
Parisian Hotels & Accessibility
Hotels in centuries-old buildings may be full of charm, but they also often feature narrow staircases and/or tiny elevators, so if accessibility is a concern, be sure to check when you reserve. Parisian hotels are evolving: Most hotels in the moderate and expensive categories now have at least one wheelchair-accessible room.
The ultimate in upscale Parisian hospitality is the Palace Hotel, a rating given only to establishments able to symbolize "excellence and perfection, luxury and timelessness." It’s here you’ll find the Michelin-starred restaurants, spas, pools, and the largest bedrooms. Palaces also usually occupy historically important buildings, like the Peninsula (http://paris.peninsula.com), where George Gershwin wrote "An American in Paris" in 1928.
If you fancy splurging on a luxury night or two, here are our favorites: The Plaza Athénée (www.dorchestercollection.com), for the trendy bar and Alain Ducasse’s fantabulous fish restaurant; Le Bristol (www.lebristolparis.com), for its enduring elegance, the best hot chocolate in town, and three-Michelin-starred dining; Le Fouquet’s Barrière (www.hotelsbarriere.com), for the cruise-ship-style pool and the brasserie, where movie stars dine like royalty after the Césars, France’s équivalent of the Oscars; and La Réserve (www.lareserve-paris.com), for its wonderful boutique feel, great restaurant, and luxury spa.