Sunday, May 13, 2007

Tales of Paris - Le Meridian

I wanted to spend a few days in Paris and after seeing what hotel rates translated to with the Euro conversion, decided I would be best off using up all my Starwood points.
I chose Le Meridian in Montparnasse, as it seemed to be a good hub from which to get to other parts of France (there is a huge train station across the street from it). My first mistake was not paying to take the bus that goes from Charles De Gualle straight to the hotel. I wanted to travel like the locals and opted for le metro. The bus would've taken an hour, and the subway took me 2. An hour of that was spent trying to figure out how exactly to buy the train ticket. The machines indicate credit cards, but do not take most American ones, for we lack some sort of chip they require. And they do not take Euro notes, only coins. The subway is not hard to navigate and I actually enjoyed traveling around with it. But they also have no escalators and so you have to lug your luggage up and down tons of stairs. Upon arriving at the Montparnasse station it took me 30 min. to find my way out of it. I followed every sign that said Sortie (exit), but kept ending up on other platforms. And I didn't see the street name of the hotel anywhere. Later on I realized that is one of the larger subway stations with many entrances and exits. I obviously chose the one furthest from the hotel.

There are very small street signs, if at all, in the area. And in my broken French I tried to ask where the Meridian was, but had no luck. Finally, after much walking around I found it. Right across the street from the Airport bus stop. Next time, I will pay double and take the bus.

The hotel lobby was large and had a bar, gift shop, business center and computers with internet. The staff at check in was very friendly and helpful. Up I went to my room. The thing about European hotels is they are not at all like American hotels. A four star hotel at $300 a night in Paris is not at all like what you expect in the States. No down comforters, no featherbed, and not a whole lot of space. But it was clean and comfortable with a double bed, tv, and a nightstand. The bathroom was small but with good towels and excellent shampoos, lotions and conditioners. All good smells and attractive packaging. However the best one? The Hermes soap in an Hermes box. You know that went straight in my suitcase. There was also a tin of biscuits in the room for me.

What I found most interesting about the room was the way the lights worked. You have to leave your keycard in the switch to leave the lights on. Otherwise they only stay on for a couple minutes. This is an excellent way to conserve energy and discourages people from leaving the lights/tv on when they leave a room! I do wish American hotels would incorporate this into thier "green" concepts.

The hotel has a fancy restaurant, Montparnasse 25, which I suspect was where the room service came from. I ordered steak and fries, and was happy with it. There is also a more casual Restaurant Justine, which serves a buffet for every meal. It is an elaborate buffet to be sure, no lack of choices for food, and has a beautiful garden setting.

Location is excellent for getting pretty much anywhere in Paris. And there are plenty of bistros in the immediate area. There is also a small grocery store right next door to grab drinks and small meals from. You may not be in the heart of the Champs-Elysées or the Louvre, but with the metro right down the street (after I found the most convenient entrance) you can get to the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame all in under 20 min.

1 comment:

danielle said...

you know, i totally agree about the whole hotel thing in europe. when i went i also noticed that their standards are different. but it's not bad at all. i don't ever remember seeing hermes lotion in any hotel here! :)

and when my best friend and i went to bali, the grand hyatt also had the keys that turned off the lights when you remove them. i think it's great too bc you don't have to walk around the whole room to turn off all the lights!