If your Parisian fantasy involves romantic evenings in a historic hotel, awaking to the aroma of freshly baked croissants and café au lait, here’s some good news: you need not be French aristocracy to make your dreams come true. With more than 2,000 hotels, the City of Light gives visitors stylish options in all price ranges, and a place with historic charm is practically a given.
In terms of location and price, there are more hotels on the Rive Droite (the Right Bank) offering formal luxury with premium service than on the Rive Gauche (the Left Bank), where the hotels are frequently smaller and richer in old-fashioned charm. The Rive Droite’s 1er, 8e, and 16e arrondissements are still the most exclusive, and the prices there reflect that. Some of these palatial hotels charge more than €850 a night for standard rooms, and the high-end competition is heating up. On both sides of the Seine, Paris is in the throes of a lodging renaissance in established and up-and-coming neighborhoods, with everything from chic new boutique hotels, like the Christian Lacroix–designed Hotel Continent, to extravagant five-star palaces. Major landmark luxury hotels are rising to the occasion with lavish renovations. In 2014, the Hôtel Plaza Athénée reopened to great fanfare after a 10-month spruce up, incorporating three new buildings. The Shangri-La Hotel Paris and the Hôtel Le Bristol also underwent significant refurbishments over the last few years. All this is good news for high rollers, especially when you factor in extraordinary new lodgings like the Paris Peninsula.
But those on a budget should fear not, because less expensive alternatives on the Rive Droite can be found in the fashionable Marais quarter (3e and 4e arrondissements), and a slew of newcomers have laid their cornerstones in the newly chic 9e. A hotbed of stylish hotels are in the Rive Gauche's 6e arrondissement; choices get somewhat cheaper in the 5e and 7e. Everything from excellent budget deals to splendid designer spaces can now be found slightly off the beaten track in the 10e, 13e, and 20e arrondissements. Wherever possible, in the more expensive neighborhoods we’ve located budget hotels—check out the handful of budget-priced sleeps in the shadow of Notre-Dame, St-Germain-des-Prés, and the Louvre.
As for the environment inside your room, change has been in the air—literally. Enforcement of the no-smoking law is taken fairly seriously, with few hotels risking the ire of guests well aware of the laws. Amenities have improved, with virtually every hotel now equipped with cable TV (meaning CNN and BBC news in English)—high-definition screens, minibars, in-room safes, and free wireless Internet access. Another recent change is the increasing availability of air-conditioning in both hotels and restaurants—a godsend in the canicules (dog days) of July and August. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the lack of elbow room. Indoor spaces—from bed and bathrooms to elevators—may feel cramped to those not used to life on a European scale. If you’re looking for enough room to spread out multiple suitcases, book a suite in one of the city’s luxurious palace-like hotels.