Sunday, April 24, 2011

Charm and value in Paris

It’s always a pleasure to find an engaging little 3 star-property Paris, one which is affordable, comfortable and convenient. Hotel Marais Bastille is just such a place, located on the Boulevard Richard Lenoir, in the Haut Marais, in the mostly residential 11th. I visited in the aftermath of February 2011 Fashion Week. The newly-renovated 37-room lodging, walking close to Metro Bastille, proved to be a great value at around €130/night.

Hotel Marais Bastille earns lot of repeat business, welcoming guests of all ages who stay an average of 2 nights. Visitors split evenly between business travelers and tourists, though tourists tend to stay longer. It’s quite a convenience to find yourself only a 10-minute walk from the Gare de Lyon, with the Metro Breguet-Sabin station literally on the doorstep. The outdoor market across the street on Wednesdays and Thursdays offers up enough goodies to keep you picnicking for days; you get quite distracted sampling delicacies only the French can produce, cheeses, charcuterie, baked goods, regional specialties. This large market has everything else in the world you might need, including clothing, flowers, antiques, jewelry or treats to carry along.

Architect Michel Jouannet has created spare and modern interior spaces, including artisan furniture designed specifically for the Marais Bastille. This adds a distinctly French touch to the decor. I appreciate the new marble baths, with smart fittings that work well. Rooms ending in the numeral 4 have daylight in the bath area, double sinks and a fold-out bed. There’s even a handicap-compliant room off the main lobby.

Remember that 3-star means the amenities are going to be limited. You don’t get a huge amount of space, but you do get plenty of nice towels. A good quality shampoo and soap are provided, but not the full armada of grooming items that 4-stars need to lay out. This doesn’t mean a reduction in comfort or cleanliness. This hotel has people constantly at work keeping the place neat, and they seem like a happy crew. That general contentment must be attributable to the hands-on management style that only a hotel de proprietaire can build: you will see the amiable owners M. et Mme. Dolbeau on site most days. Details like this make the family-run hotel one of a kind, a personalized style of management passed along by the cheerful English-speaking staff. While you will enjoy the benefit of free wi-fi throughout, there’s no business center for those last-minute printouts, and no Ethernet port in the rooms, not a huge sacrifice for the price paid. The typical breakfast is available for an additional charge. You won’t be able to stow your notebook computer in the small room safe, but your passport and valuables will fit. Finally, you’ll certainly observe Best Western branding on the hotel’s façade, website and graphics. Never fear, it’s the final year of a contract with the bland international chain, and by 2012 Hotel Marais Bastille will live under its own charming boutique flag.

Budget travelers, the lighthearted and intrepid will be happy with what they receive here. As far as properties on the rive droite go, it’s easy, chic and authentic, and that says a lot.

Hotel Marais Bastille
36, Bd. Richard Lenoir
Paris 75011
Tel 01 48 05 75 00