|by Meg Zimbeck||France, Paris, Hotels||29|
The City of Light's reputation for extravagance is much deserved. Many hotel rooms have nightly rates that will cost you an arm and a leg, and snagging budget accommodation for less than $150 per night requires a sleeve-full of strategies. Lucky for you, we have some insider tips on booking lodging, plus a handful of hotel recommendations.
Avoid the city center. Low-numbered neighborhoods are central and home to many popular areas to visit, such as the Latin Quarter and the Champs-Elysées. Hotels in the 1st–8th arrondissements, or neighborhoods, are thus the most expensive in town. Métro-savvy visitors can save a bundle and still be close to the action by staying in the "second ring" arrondissements and commuting in by Métro to their favorite sightseeing spots. The right bank arrondissements numbered 9–12 have excellent access to the Métro—plus, some of the city’s best value restaurants. Fifteen minutes on the subway might save you $50 per night in hotel costs. Look for hotels that are near subway lines 1, 7, 8, and 9—these routes have stops near the major monuments.
Book months ahead. Paris has only about 30 great-value hotels but receives as many as 30 million visitors every year. Book your hotel room early to boost your chances of snagging the place you most desire.
Stay during the shoulder season. As a rule of thumb, hotels charge their highest rates between mid-May and mid-September. Visit the city in the spring and autumn for more affordable rates—not to mention more manageable crowds and milder temperatures, too.
Be flexible. Understanding what you can live without is the key to finding hotel happiness. You can’t get a spacious center-city room with modern design and an eat-in kitchen, for instance. But you can get a couple, or at least one, of those things. Your perfect compromise might be a closet in the cobblestone center or a sleek design hotel on the outskirts.
For longer stays, consider an apartment instead of a hotel. Short-term rentals are best if you’re staying a week or more. There are two types of Web resources for short-term apartments. The first type will help you find luxury digs that are more spacious than the typical Parisian hotel, but cost about the same, giving you a bigger bang for your euro. A swank apartment on the Ile-Saint-Louis, for example, sleeps four for $240 (€190) per night. That works out to about $120 per couple per night for a 17th-century address overlooking the Seine. Guest Apartment Services is a good site for these high-end rentals.
The second type of website lists rentals on the other end of the scale. For example, websites like Venere offer smaller, typically IKEA-furnished rentals from $126 (€100) per night.
Both Guest Apartment Services and Venere accept online reservations and deposit by credit card. Note, though, that many smaller companies accept deposit only by bank transfer.
Always read the reservations policies carefully with an eye out for traps, such as the policy on cancellations. Be particularly wary of negotiating any rental found on a message board like Craigslist. Deposits have been stolen via short-term rental scams made through such sites. For full advice on how to arrange a vacation rental, see our Vacation Rental Handbook.
For hotel recommendations, see our listings for properties we've visited with starting rates under $200 per night: "Paris at a Price That's Right."