Holiday Inn Paris: The Curious Incident of the Buzz in the Night Time

Sleuthing in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Paris - Notre Dame
Sleuthing in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Paris – Notre Dame

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.

View of the rooftops from our balcony at the Holiday Inn Paris -- Notre Dame
Romantic view of Paris rooftops from our balcony at the Holiday Inn Paris — Notre Dame

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.

Koi Pond at the Holiday Inn Paris - Notre Dame
Koi Pond in the garden at at the Holiday Inn Paris – Notre Dame

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.

Lovely tropical garden at the Holiday Inn Paris- Notre Dame
Lovely tropical garden at the Holiday Inn Paris- Notre Dame

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.

Lobby of the Hotel Danube Paris
Lobby of the Hotel Danube Paris

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.

Courtyard at Hotel Danube Paris
Charming Courtyard at Hotel Danube Paris

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.

View from our balcony at the Holiday Inn Paris - Notre Dame
View from our private balcony at the Holiday Inn Paris – Notre Dame

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 of Watercolor Prints of Paris
Book of Watercolor Prints of 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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Which Hotel Chain Has the Most Hotels in Paris?

"Paris is Always a Good Idea'  Audrey HepburnNow that our plane tickets to Paris are booked, I need to make some hotel reservations.

To the extent possible, I’d like to leverage my hotel points to book as many free nights as possible.

To that end, I started by exploring availability in the the two programs where I have the most points:  Club Carlson and IHG.

Not surprisingly, award availability for our travel dates was hit or miss.

Which Hotel Chain has the Most Hotels in Paris?

There are quite a few Holiday Inns and other IHG hotels in Paris, but only 4 Club Carlson Radisson Blu hotels.

Are these the best loyalty programs if you are looking for free nights for your Paris holiday?

If you read a number of other travel blogs, you’ve probably heard about the Park Hyatt Vendome, and how you can stay there for free by opening a Chase Hyatt credit card.

There are 2,400 hotels in Paris.  Why do all the bloggers stay at the same place?

On the one hand, I’d really love to stay in a boutique hotel on the Left Bank or the Marais.  On the other hand, I need to economize.

I went to Award Mapper to get a rough count of which chains have hotels that you can book for points in Paris.  I was surprised by what I found.

Best Western Has 42 Hotels in Central Paris

Best Western Hotels in Paris
Best Western Hotels in Paris via Award Mapper

Here are the tallies I came up with for the major hotel chains:

Best Western:  42

Choice:  15

Club Carlson:  4

Hilton:  1

Hyatt:  4

Intercontinental (IHG):  14

Marriott:  9

Starwood (SPG):  4

Wyndham:  2

Best Western has the most properties — 42 hotels in many different neighborhoods in Paris.  Hilton has the fewest — just one hotel.  Hyatt, Starwood, and Club Carlson each have four hotels.

Are you surprised by these results?  Were you able to book award stays in Paris?  

Eight Percent Cash Back on Holiday Inns is Back!

1960's Era Holiday Inn
1960’s era Holiday Inn

Did you know the name Holiday Inn given to the original hotel was a joke?  

The name was a reference to the 1942 Christmas-themed film Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

Well the name stuck!

I long for the 1960’s when Holiday Inn’s beckoned road-weary family travelers with amenities such as outdoor swimming pools, bonded babysitters, room service, and free dog kennels.

Yup, free dog kennels.  A summer road trip was easier to organize in those days, if you set your sights on lodging at a Holiday Inn every night.

Eight Percent Cash Back at Holiday Inns and other IHG Hotels

1960's Holiday Inn Soap
1960’s Holiday Inn soap, found on EBay. Who buys this stuff?

Ebates is a cash back shopping portal that offers rebates on online purchases including hotel bookings with IHG Hotels.  The regular payout rate is 4 percent cash back, but currently, Ebates is offering 8 percent cash back on hotel reservations with IHG.

You can go through the Ebates portal, and you will still earn points for your hotel reservation with IHG.

IHG includes:

  • Holiday Inns
  • Holiday Inn Express
  • Crowne Plaza
  • Hotel Indigo
  • InterContinental 
  • Staybridge Suites
  • Candlewood Suites 
Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Orem, Utah
We chose the same upholstery pattern in blue

Of these brands, Holiday Inn Express is my current favorite.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Orem, Utah in 2011.  The modern decor at this hotel was inspiring.  I loved the tiled lobby and hand blown glass decorations.  But what really won me over was the upholstery pattern in the rooms — the same fabric we had chosen for our dining room chairs.

We booked a standard room via Priceline, and got a very competitive rate of $49!

The fine print from Ebates states that cash back is only available for commissionable IHG rates.  Specially negotiated rates such as IHG Friends & Family are not eligible for cash back.  Further, it may take up to 40 days after travel is completed for cash back to show up  in your Ebates account.  

I’m not sure how long the 8 percent cash back will be in effect at Ebates.

Eight Percent Cash Back from IHG Hotels at FatWallet

FatWallet is a similar online shopping portal that I have had great success with.

FatWallet is currently offering a payout rate of 8 percent at Holiday Inn Hotels only.  The other IHG brand hotels are offered at a payout rate of 5.5 percent.

If you use the links in this post to make a purchase with Ebates or FatWallet, I may receive a referral commission.  You can earn commissions as well by referring your friends!