Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bed, Bath and Beyond

Odd room decor. No thanks.
Since a good one can make your trip and a bad one can break it, the task of finding a hotel in a distant city must be undertaken with caution and either a strong cup of coffee or a soothing glass of wine by your side, depending. For our upcoming trip to Paris, I began my search last night with a decent Chianti but got sleepy and went to bed without a confirmed booking. Up at dawn, I brewed a pot of French roast--fitting for the job--and got busy.

According to the Tourist Bureau, "Paris has the widest choice of hotels in the world, with a full range of prices, offering something for everyone. Choose from around 75,000 rooms in some 2,000 hotels, aparthotels, camp sites and other al fresco options, youth centres, apartment rentals or accommodation in private homes." To me this was not good news. A host of options never helps any endeavor, be it choosing a career, finding a mate or buying a car. But it is the American way, and it's too late to turn back now.

Searching online, one has access to customer reviews. Depending on how much you respect the opinion of random strangers with whom you may share nothing at all, this is helpful or not. According to Donald G. from Amsterdam, one hotel is "charming and in a good location but lacks hot water." Marilyn L. from New Jersey reports that her choice was "on a crowded street with a noisy elevator but with the best crosissants in the city." Fritz from Berlin hated his selection "in a sketchy neighborhood but with a fantastic view of the Seine," while The Davis Family from Spokane, WA gave eight thumbs-up to one they found "comfortable despite the thin bath towels." I completely related to Carol and Jim R., a honeymooning couple who stayed at "a little gem decorated to-die-for but the staff is surly."

Cost is a factor: Some are way too expensive (and in Euros to boot so when you do the math it's ridiculous), while others are so cheap you can already feel the bed bugs biting. Added to the conundrum are the special requirements of my travel companion who shall remain nameless but is my husband: Walking distance to all of Paris, not located on a noisy street but certainly not in the middle of nowhere, with a king-sized bed and free cancellation and WI-FI and great views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower and near the Louvre and in the Marais, maybe, but we stayed there last time.

I'm still looking, but I'm switching back to Chianti.




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