You don’t go to Paris to stay at a cookie-cutter chain hotel.
Crazy that I am, I booked five nights at the Holiday Inn Paris Notre Dame, for half of our summer vacation in Paris.
The reason, of course, was hotel points.
I had enough IHG points from a credit card bonus to get two free nights at a Holiday Inn hotel, and I was not going to let those points go to waste!
A Surprise Tropical Oasis at the Holiday Inn Paris – Notre Dame
The reason I chose the Holiday Inn- Paris Notre Dame was location. The hotel is literally steps from the St. Michel Metro station and the RER train station. It sits right on the border between the Latin Quarter and St. Germain de Pres. It is within walking distance of just about everything.
What really intrigued me about the Holiday Inn Paris – Notre Dame, however, was the rooftop bar that provides generous views of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.
The rooftop bar did not disappoint. It was spellbinding to watch the sun set over the rooftops of Paris.
Another bonus was the charming garden off the hotel lobby, complete with a koi pond and tropical vegetation.
However, the decor of the hotel was quite garish, like a fuschia throwback to the 1970’s. You can see pictures of the rooms on TripAdvisor.
It turns out our neighbors had stayed there a couple of years ago. “It’s not very Parisian,” they said.
We were assigned to a tiny room on the first floor, with a bizarre large window between the bedroom and the bathroom.
Holiday Inn Paris Notre Dame: Things That Go Buzz in the Night
Upon returning to the Holiday Inn after a full day walking around Paris, I fell fast asleep.
Around 10 p.m., I was awakened by a security guy searching our room.
There was a strange buzzing going on, that my husband reported to the front desk.
We couldn’t locate the source of the buzzing. It sounded like it may be coming from the bathtub. No. Was it coming from the desk, or maybe from the closet?
The security man brought in a ladder and removed a ceiling tile. Nothing up there. Then he turned off the electricity to see if the buzzing would stop. No luck there. He left to search the adjoining rooms to see if he could identify the source of the persistent buzzing.
After an hour of this, it was getting ridiculous. It would be impossible to get back to sleep under these conditions.
The security guy radioed the front desk and said we would have to be relocated to another room. The desk clerk agreed.
Unfortunately, the hotel was fully booked for the night, and we would have to move to another hotel.
We packed our bags and headed down to the lobby.
I guessed that they would move us to another Holiday Inn. “Do you mind waiting?” the desk clerk asked. “There’s nothing available. Paris is completely booked tonight.”
Hotel Danube Paris, a More Traditional Accommodation
Half an hour later, she had secured a room and breakfast for us at what she promised was a very nice hotel not too far away.
She called us a cab, and we were whisked off to the Hotel Danube Paris on Rue Jacob in the 6th arrondissement.
I was up for the adventure — this would give us the opportunity to see another hotel and another neighborhood!
The Hotel Danube Paris is a typical Parisian hotel. It is a family-owned, solid three star hotel. There was a small courtyard where you can take breakfast. The lobby is decorated with ornate green wallpaper.
We arrived very late at night, and were lucky to get a large, comfortable room with an enormous bathroom. It was the Hotel Danube’s most expensive room, a “Prestige” room.
This is the kind of place I can imagine returning on a future visit to Paris.
The next morning, we reported back to the Holiday Inn Paris – Notre Dame. The reception staff was most apologetic. I don’t think they ever located the source of the buzzing.
In exchange for our trouble, we were upgraded to an “Executive” room on the sixth floor for the remainder of our stay.
This “Executive” room was easily twice the size of our first room. It had a windows stretching the length of the room.
There was a balcony large enough for two chairs and a table. The balcony was shaded by vines and quite private. It had a magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower.
The reception staff said that we would find a welcome amenity in our room. Yes, there was a Twix bar and a water bottle on the desk. Was this the amenity?
When we returned from dinner, we spotted another gift: a bottle of wine; and a beautiful book of water color paintings of Paris: Une Aquarelliste à Paris.
This was a touching gesture and will make a nice keepsake of our time in Paris.
Book the Room, Not the Hotel
The moral of the story is that in Paris, and many other places, there is a big difference between the standard room and a superior room at the same hotel.
Our perception of these two disparate hotels was greatly influenced by the room quality.
On a points stay, you are eligible for a standard room.
If you have status with the hotel, by virtue of holding a branded credit card, you may be upgraded to a larger room. Or maybe not.
If you are a cheapskate like me you may be reluctant to choose anything but the standard room. Based on this experience, I would advocate searching for a nicer room at a less expensive hotel before making a decision. In Paris, the difference between a four star hotel and a three star hotel may be whether there is a restaurant and a bar in the hotel, or an elevator, or other features that you might not care deeply about.
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