Hotels and How to Find Yours

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Hotels and How to Find Yours
Paris travelers are either very fidele (faithful) or they hotel hop as they look for one they can call “home.” Considering the hundreds of hotels in the City of Light, which have been built or renovated in the past few years, the hotel you loved during your last trip might not bear any resemblance to its former self. Some very well-to-do Paris visitors stay at one of the city’s “Palace Hotels.”  The rich and famous congregate at these hotels because they have top rate security, 24-hour-a-day room service and there’s no way the concierge is going to forget your name. Ditto for the “barman” when it comes to remembering “your’ drink. Requests from your previous stay have already been recorded in a computerized dossier. If you asked for a Wall Street Journal to be delivered to your door each morning, I’ll wager money you won’t have to ask for it on your next trip. Business travelers frequently stay in the same hotel chain, come hell or high water. They’re not about to change their habits nor sacrifice the “free nights” they’ve earned via fidelity programs.  If they work for the government or other large corporations, the rate they pay is substantially less than what the average Joe will have to fork over at the check out counter. You can’t blame the hotel’s management for handing out the best rooms to the employees of companies that guarantee many hundreds of room nights per year. Not so long ago, some travelers appreciated the uniform look and style many hotels maintained. Some chains believed guests felt more comfortable when the rooms looked familiar and they didn’t have to guess where the telephone was located. Clearly, the big hotel chains did plenty of market research; ergo, it had to be true. Recently, business men and leisure travelers have developed an entirely different set of criteria for where they want to hang their hats, or more appropriately, rest their heads. When in Paris (unless you’re attending a convention or traveling with a group) many people enjoy exploring different quartiers (neighborhoods) and mixing a bit of work with pleasure. If there’s a city where it can easily be done, it’s certainly Paris. I advise people to compile a list after they’ve consulted two web sites. ratp.com  (The metro and bus site that shows you how to get from here to there) and mappy.com (This site shows every street location and how far it is to and from public transportation). The list should include some or all of the following: If you have meetings, pinpoint exactly where they’ll be; Tourists should have an idea of the things they want to see – keeping in mind that the Paris transportation system is one of the most efficient in the world. Hotel Conveniences: Do you prefer a large or a small hotel? Is room service necessary? Do you want high-speed Internet access in the room? (Keep in mind there’s usually a charge for this unless you’re staying in a mega-expensive hotel) Do you need to be located near a park for jogging and/or children? Is it important to have a health club in your hotel? A mini-bar? Air-Conditioning? A non-smoking room? Most importantly, what is your budget? With the advent of the Internet, the hotel playing field has become more level than previously. There’s not a day in Paris when you can’t find a room. It might not be the room of your choice and dreams but….with frequent no shows and last minute cancellations, hoteliers would rather have an occupied room than one that’s sitting empty. My favorite hotel booking site is Venere.com The reason I think this site is head and shoulders above the others is because it encourages comments from guests.  OK – the fact that people’s remarks are labeled, “heterosexual couple and/or Gay couple” gives me a giggle. But comments are invariably valuable, especially due to the wonders of the wide-angle lens that can make the tiniest of rooms look not-so-tiny. If you see a hotel that intrigues you and is in a convenient location, do a quick Internet search for that specific hotel. If the hotel has its own web site, it will be more detailed. Should you decide to book via the Venere.com site, (which represents hotels throughout the world), be very specific when it comes to requirements. Once you have the confirmation number, ask a friend who is a native-speaker to confirm the reservation. Even if your address is a U.S. one, reservation clerks are impressed if the person at the other end of the phone speaks flawless French. To score the best room, I have friends who know no shame. When booking a room, they always tell the hotel’s management they’re on their honeymoon. In reality, they’ve been married more than 20 years. Their stories are wonderful. They’ve been upgraded to bridal suites, had champagne awaiting them upon arrival and have benefited from such goodies. When I admonished them for erroneously wrangling upgrades, they stood firm and replied they’re always on their honeymoon – most especially, when they travel. If you have secrets for getting hotel…
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