The Latest Revolution in Paris Lodgings
Largely unnoticed by U.S. visitors, two dozen low-cost but modern and amenity-packed hotels have sprouted in Paris. They're called "Ibis"
C'est possible? A crop of sleek new economy hotels in one of Europe's most notorious graveyards for vacation budgets? With good, clean rooms as cheap as $46 a night? Mais oui. Though you'll find them in almost no American guidebooks, a slew of slickly modern (for the most part) budget hotels called Ibis have stealthily emerged within the city limits of Paris, most of them near metro (subway) stops a five-minute ride from the Seine. Operated by Accor Hotels (800/221-4542), which owns Motel 6 and Red Roof Inns in the States, Ibis' Parisian branches now total several thousand rooms in 57 individual properties, of which 20 are in the central city and 37 more in the suburbs beyond the peripherique ring road. Taking a leaf from les americains, the cookie-cutter Ibises have become the McDonald's of European budget lodgings (486 such properties are scattered across the continent) by taking the guesswork out of finding reliable modern digs with certain minimum features: private bathroom, TV, phone, and room service (though not always air-conditioning).
Rates in Paris (with the exception of one property) run 330-545 francs ($46-$78) per double (singles just slightly less)--not including another $5.40 for the buffet breakfast and $10 for three-course meals. All properties have elevators, most have bars, and many have restaurants, as well as 24-hour hot snack service; locations are in good yet relatively less expensive neighborhoods.
Drawbacks? Attractive but tiny, rather clumsily designed rooms with papier-thin walls; severely limited storage space; bathrooms not easily maneuvered by the "full-figured" among us; lack of frills like shampoo and desks with actual drawers; and service sometimes closer to traditional Parisian hauteur and sullenness than to the perky "customer-is-always-right" approach of, say, America's Microtel. And if you want local color and charm, find a more traditional petit hotel down the boulevard (our recommendations for that in a soon-to-come issue).
But with that in mind, and abetted by one of the most impressive exchange rates in years (recently around 7 francs to the dollar) and info on the 20 key "inside-the-beltway" Ibises, you can have even a modest budget singin' on the Seine.
Ibis Gare de L'Est 165 rooms with air-conditioning, some for nonsmokers/disabled; bar, restaurant, on-premises parking; single $60, double $66. A couple of blocks from the grand Gare de l'Est and Gare du Nord train stations, this yellow, eight-floor updated version of classic nineteenth-century Parisian design (complete with mansard roofs) is walkable to many shops and restaurants in its workaday neighborhood. 197-199 rue La Fayette, 10th arrondissement; tel. 44-65-70-00, fax 44-65-70-07.
Ibis Gare L'Est/Boulevard de Strasbourg 68 AC rooms, nonsmoking/disabled; bar, parking; single $64, double $68. An early twentieth-century building with a relaxing lobby, it's on a quiet little lane named for the atmospheric fifteenth-century stone church around the corner. 6 rue Saint Laurent, 10th arr.; 40-38-05-05, fax 42-05-71-16.
Ibis Lafayette 70 AC rooms, nonsmoking/disabled; single $62, double $69. Intimate in a 1990s kind of way, it's got a cute little reception/bar area, a charming yard with ivy-covered walls, trees, tables, and chairs. Or hang out with Parisians of all ages across the street in the petite park adjoining the imposing, neoclassical St. Vincent de Paul. 122 rue La Fayette, 10th arr.; 45-23-27-27, fax 42-46-73-79.
Ibis Republique 67 rooms, nonsmoking; bar; single $62, double $66. Steps from the place de la Republique and an easy stroll to Chatelet-Les Halles and the Op,ra, the handsome gray town house dating from 1896 mixes six floors of standard-issue rooms with local flavor like a genteel white foyer and stone vaults in the basement breakfast room. 9 rue Leon Jouhaux, 10th arr.; 42-40-40-11-12, fax 42-40-11-12.
Ibis Jemmapes Louis Blanc 49 rooms, disabled; restaurant; single $60, double $67. Tucked onto a very quiet side street near a canal and lined with modern apartment houses, the eight-story, sand-color older building has been renovated beyond recognition. It's unexceptional but certainly pleasant, and a short hop to busy boulevard La Fayette; for peace and quiet, a great choice. 12 rue Louis Blanc, 10th arr.; 42-01-21-21, fax 42-08-21-40.
Ibis Bastille 305 rooms, nonsmoking, disabled; bar, restaurant, parking; single $64, double $71. Punctuated by porthole-style bathroom windows, it's an easy walk to place de la Bastille with its mod performance hall, and to ritzy place des Vosges and the medieval Marais. Nearby is a very happening (and late) nightlife along rue de la Roquette and rue de Lappe, as well as neat street markets along boulevard Richard Lenoir. 15 rue Breguet, 11th arr.; 49-29-20-20, fax 49-29-20-30.