Paris Tips: 2 Favorite Affordable Hotels with Ritzy Appeal
By Theadora Brack
Tripping to Paris? Here are two affordable hotels in the city, both dripping with swanky appeal.
I’ll also pay homage to the Hôtel Ritz Paris. On July 31, 2012, the centuries-old beauty will temporarily close for a makeover. Heck, we’ve all been there!
But first things first, here are a few tips! In Paris, most of the rooms are small. So just do like the locals do and don’t plan to hole up in your hotel—spend more time at a café instead! But if there’s a real problem with the room, start off with a “bonjour,” and a little tenderness. Now let’s get a room, shall we?
WWWD? (What would Wallis do?)
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor would most likely stay at the Hôtel Ritz. Who else stayed here? Gloria Swanson, Charlie Chaplin, and Greta Garbo, along with Sophia Loren, Orson Welles, and Marlene Dietrich — just to name a few. Let’s not forget Hemingway, either!
Hem’s wife Mary wrote, “Marlene used to wander down to Ernest’s room to sit on his bathtub and sing to him while he shaved, and they both forgave me when I mimicked her.” Oh, la la. It is a small world.
King of the Hoteliers
César Ritz (a.k.a. “Host to the World”) got the deluxe party started when he opened the Hôtel Ritz in 1898. Adding posh and circumstance, rooms were outfitted with telephones, electricity, and bathrooms. Wet blanket Oscar Wilde quipped, “Who wants an immovable washing basin in one’s room? Hide the thing. I prefer to ring for water when I need it.” Oh, Oscar.
Here’s another royal blush: After King Edward VII got stuck in a bathtub during a ménage à trois, Monsieur Ritz swiftly installed king-sized tubs in all rooms. He also coined the phrase: “The customer is never wrong.” Rub-a-Dub-Dub!
Cinematic fans: Billy Wilder’s epic weepie “Love in the Afternoon” (1957) with Audrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper, and Maurice Chevalier was shot at the Ritz, too. Both the hotel and its surrounding ‘hood are worth a stroll-by!
Now let’s hoof it to two still-regal-but-more-affordable alternatives!
1. Prince Albert Louvre
5 rue Saint-Hyacinthe, Near the Louvre
The moment I made my entrance at the glitzy lobby of the two-star Prince Albert, I started “jonesing” for smoking jackets, slinky gowns, and silk pajamas. Embracing a place resembling a Hollywood set, I half-expected Lauren Bacall or Gregory Peck to suddenly appear in the hotel’s lounge-gone-baroque.
Here the crystal chandeliers and gold Egyptian art, along with Parisian murals and mosaic tiled floors mesmerized me in ways I hadn’t thought possible since watching the Venetian “Hotel des Bains” glitter in “The English Patient.”
Located on rue Saint-Hyacinthe, the Prince Albert rubs elbows with the Marché St-Honoré, the Musée de la Mode et du Textile, the Louvre, and the Jardin des Tuileries. All mighty then, it’s a hub!
Here’s the scoop: The rooms at the Prince Albert are outfitted with antiques, comfy chairs, and built-in closets stocked with blankets and pillows. The double and triple rooms have AC, while fans are available for the singles. Wi-Fi is a freebee. (Tip: There are two other Prince Albert locations in Paris.)
2. Hotel du 7e Art
20 rue Saint-Paul, Marais
I’ve got another swish hotel up my three-quarter Rayon sleeve. “Lumière! Moteur! Action!” I imagined hearing as I entered the funky Hôtel du 7e Art (a.k.a. the Seventh Art Hotel).
Located just a jump cut away from the picturesque Seine, this shrine to Franco-American cinema is a showstopper on rue Saint Paul, deep in the heart of the Marais. Even the lounge gets in on the action, boasting palm trees and flea market finds, along with a fireplace, a piano and a bar worthy of a cameo appearance in “Casablanca.”
Hooray for Hollywood
Created by its movie buff proprietors, the two-star hotel celebrates the “seventh art” of film making. Rita Hayworth struck a pose above my bed, while the entire cast of “The Wizard of Oz” hobnobbed it by the door. And that’s just one room! From top to bottom, the vintage posters on display throughout the premises read like a Hollywood “A” list.
More scoop: Wearing its shabby-chic look on its sleeve, the rooms feature dark wooden desks, headboards, and cabinets, all matching old beams from yesteryear. Rooms are equipped with ceiling fans, televisions, and AC. Large round vanity bulbs shine on brightly in the bathrooms. Getting ready for your close-up just got easier, Norma Desmond! And yes, the Wi-Fi is free!
Stay tuned for more hotel recommendations! Do you have your own favorite place to stay in Paris?