Weekend in Paris: Le Pavillon des Lettres Hotel Paris

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(Full disclosure: The hotel comped my one night stay)

If you have elite status with a hotel chain, chances are you don’t look all that far outside of your preferred chain when considering hotels at a destination. The benefits of elite status can be amazing. Then again, at the weekend I was looking at staying in Paris the Park Hyatt didn’t have availability on points and was running over 1,000 Euros per night, while no Starwood hotels had rates under 500 Euros either. Lastly, both InterContinentals were sold out. I guess that’s what you should expect in Paris in summer.

But oftentimes I’d say we’re missing out by only considering major hotel chains, when there are plenty of other great options out there. Furthermore, if you don’t actively participate in hotel loyalty programs, you’re probably best off staying somewhere local, since chain hotels in major cities usually charge a huge premium over local places, not to mention are often “sterile.”

So when the opportunity to stay at Le Pavillon des Lettres presented itself I jumped on it.

The hotel is certainly intriguing and refers to itself as a “literary hotel.” It has 26 rooms, each assigned a different letter of the alphabet.

As a point of reference, rooms usually go for 250 Euros per night, which is very reasonable for Paris in summer.

The hotel has a great location not far from the Champs Elysees. Getting there turned out to be an adventure since it’s somewhat hidden and I’m challenged when it comes to directions, though I’ll save that for the next installment about “exploring Paris,” given that half of my exploring occurred on my way to and from the airport thanks to how many times I got lost. 😉

The hotel has an unassuming exterior and is located on rue des Saussaies, a quiet street that’s minutes from the action but still peaceful enough to get some rest.


Hotel exterior


Hotel entrance

Once inside I was warmly greeted at the modern reception by several agents.


Lobby

I was escorted to my room on the second floor, which was room “Q.”

The hotel has both an elevator and a beautiful staircase. Since I had bags I took the elevator the first time around.


Staircase

My room was at the end of the hallway.


Room entrance

For whatever reason, I instinctively associate small hotels or bed and breakfasts with being “classic” and not especially modern. That’s what surprised me the most about the room. It was incredibly modern yet charming, as I think the pictures show.

Hotel rooms in Europe are notoriously small, so I’d say this room was average in size, and definitely comfortable for one person.

The bed in the room was comfortable with soft sheets and firm pillows.


Room “Q”

The wallpaper is pretty cool in that it’s “literary,” with different literary texts in each room.


Bed

The room also had a desk near the window. The hotel offers free high speed wifi, and when I say high speed I really mean high speed. That’s pretty rare in European hotels, in my experience (both the speed and it being free).

Despite the hotel being “literary” it wasn’t short on other technology. The room featured a huge flat screen TV with lots of international channels, and also offered iPads to guests for the duration of their stay. They’re available at no additional cost at the reception, which I thought was pretty cool.


Desk


Nightstand


Nightstand


Safe and minibar

The bathroom offered all the features you would expect. The shower had good water pressure and temperature, and offered Plantation shower amenities.


Bathroom


Sink


Toilet

The view from my room was of rue des Saussaies. While it’s not a view of the Eiffel Tower, I enjoyed overlooking a quiet street so I could open my window and enjoy the fresh air without too much noise, given how nice the weather was.


View from my room

After a good night of sleep and rising early, I decided to have breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, which cost me a very reasonable 12 Euros. I was there right as they opened at 7AM, and was the only guest for the whole time I sat there. While I’d usually venture outside of a hotel’s restaurant in a city like Paris which has some of the best pastries and bread, I quickly saw just how fresh the bread was. As I was seated a local bakery came by to drop off the bread and pastries for breakfast, so it was fairly obvious that the food wasn’t coming from Dunkin Donuts’ freezer (not that I would expect that). 😉


Hotel restaurant

As soon as I was seated I was offered coffee and orange juice.

The buffet setup was great, with cereal, scrambled eggs, baguette, pastries, meats, cheeses, etc.


Breakfast buffet


Cereal


Scrambled eggs, baguette, and pastries

Breakfast was delicious, and I was good to go until later in the afternoon when I met fellow blogger Matthew for lunch.

Despite only staying for one night, I had a fantastic stay. Admittedly as someone that is obsessed with loyalty programs, I often don’t have a need to pay for hotels in expensive cities. Usually I can plan far enough in advance so that I can secure a points booking. In this case, though, no other hotels were available at a reasonable price, so I’m really happy I was able to try the Le Pavillon des Lettres.

I would recommend this hotel in a heartbeat, especially for those that don’t have elite status with a hotel chain (which is 90% of people out there — though maybe not on this blog!). 250 Euros during peak season is a rate that’s tough to beat, especially for a hotel as cool as this, and one that doesn’t charge for wifi or even iPads. But even if you do have points, this place delivered a unique experience which I wouldn’t have gotten at a major chain, as if I was a guest in someone’s house.

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Comments

  1. +1 on the non-chain property review. Refreshing!

    For places like these are where I think the benefits of something like the hotels.com Welcome Rewards program comes in. For the 90% of us who can’t/won’t maintain loyalty to hit a relatively value-less mid tier status with one chain, Welcome Rewards hits the mark allowing you to shop around and still maintain some kind of loyalty scheme to give you some free nights down the track.

  2. @Hilary – I,too, am looking to use the hotels.com buy one get one free night in Paris at end of september and will check out this hotel — any other Paris recommendations for a singleton?

  3. I suppose, but 250€/$350 per night is rather steep, even during the summer in Paris, lucky. I find it very difficult to pay that much for a 4* hotel, and I wonder if you would feel the same way about this (admittedly, stylish) property if it hadn’t been comped…

    In such situations, when I just need a place to crash (that’s still 4* of course), I’d rather priceline it and accept whatever may come. I’ve never struck out, and usually you can find something decent for $130-$150 in a central, single-digit arrondissement.

    Or, failing that, swallow your pride, call up a Parisian friend, and crash on their couch. Any Parisian would slap you if you really spent $400 for a night at a 4* hotel. =]

  4. Comped stay + glowing review = very sketchy. Did you solicit this comp or did the hotel force it upon you? More disclosure please!

  5. Yeah, agreed with the above. It looks like this was a nice place, but there are tons of acceptable options below that price point.

  6. This is my only problem with reviewing a hotel that you got or free. I can’t help but wonder what the review would have been if you actually spent the $400, which is a fair amount of money.

    From what I read, i don’t think that that hotel was worth $400/night. I’d take it free yhough

  7. Nice review.

    However, I agree with the above posters regarding the inherent bias involved with reviewing a comped room.

    Yes, there was (and should be) full disclosure. But it’s impossible for the comp to have no impact on your review. Even if you consciously tried to write about your experience objectively, you cannot control your subconscious mood and state of mind, which undoubtedly was lifted by getting something of $250 value for free.

    Your assertion that $250 was good value is undercut by the very fact that you yourself were not willing to pay $250 for the room.

  8. Hi,

    Interesting review of an hotel I’d like to try in the future. Thanks for the nice pics that give a good overview of how the hotel is. As you say, the rates are reasonable for what looks like a nice property.

    Were you in a superior room or a deluxe one?

    While not part of a big chain, this hotel is nonetheless a member of Small Luxury Hotels (SLH):

    http://www.slh.com/destinations/europe/france/paris/le-pavillon-des-lettres-hotel/

    So you can register with the SLH Club, and get free upgrade, free breakfast, late check-out, etc. right from the first stay. And when you accumulate 5 stays in any SLH property, you can enjoy 1 free night per 5 stays. Overall not a bad program, without any requirement to accumulate 15-20 nights before enjoying any benefits.

    Combined with their “stay 3 nights get 4th free” and the Club membership upgrade, their suites are within reach for ~225 euros per night. Not bad, even though they look tiny.

  9. I would love to stay in the Rousseau room…after all that is my last name. In this case they are referring to the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

  10. Six years ago, before we found out about maximizing miles, we spent a week in a small boutique hotel in Paris. We had a wonderful time. The staff went out of their way to help us. They even measured the bed’s width for me to assure me we were getting a king size bed. Boutique hotels offer a more intimate kind of experience.

  11. All this bashing of lucky I believe is quite unfair over his review of the comp room. How about all the digital electronic review sites? Do you think they don’t get “perks” from the vendors they review products for. Anyhow I think we should just be fortunate there is someone out there who takes the time to review these products for us whether he is paying for them out of his own pocket or not. I’m sure lucky and other bloggers get these offers every now and then but whether they actually are used is a different story. It’s not like lucky spent $1600 just to go to Paris because of the comped room.

  12. Every room refers to a writer, not just a letter of the alphabet 🙂 Place looks very nice. If you wanna go small, contemporary and a bit odd you have Parisian hotels like Mama Shelter or Hotel Amour. Also http://www.mrandmrssmith.com have an amazing selection of upscale but not ridiculously priced hotels. Keep the reviews and tips coming!! 🙂

  13. @Kevin It’s not really a bashing of lucky, per se. It’s just that people like people who give them gifts, and that can affect the review, even unconsiously.

    When something is free, people are more apt to be less critical of it than if they paid $400. When you pay $400 for a hotel room, you expect a near-perfect experience. When you pay nothing, not so much.

  14. I’m not bashing lucky – good for him to get a free room.

    I’d like tho on reviews of comped rooms they only included facts and no opinions. Hotel info, pics, are all useful; but it’s impossible to give an opinion that is unbiased when you are getting a room for free.

    I’d get more out of these comp reviews if it was just the facts, just my IMO

  15. @Michael It’s true that hotels.com buy 1 get 1 free, unlike their buy 10 nights/get 1 free, is actually a good deal. The problem is that Paris end of Sept. is quite expensive compared to the hotel deals you could get in August. For what I paid, I really liked the Francois 1er (see link above to my review) which is <5 min. walk to the Champs-Elysees and Metro Georges V. Another good one in that area is Hotel Keppler. Checking 9/24-9/25 though, I see Hotels.com is pricing it at $506 + $28 tax (ouch!)–and note that with the hotels.com deal you still have to pay tax on the free night. We have it at $375, including tax and free breakfast.

    For a really nice neighborhood try the hotels in the Saint-Germain area, near the Jardin du Luxembourg–you'll pay a premium though to stay in that area. I stayed once at the Relais St. Germain, owned by star chef Yves Camemborde, mainly to get a table at the Le Comptoir (since guests get priority). The meal was worth it, the hotel was pricey for what it was, as most in that area are.

    Since the buy 1 get 1 free is only good for the amount you actually spend on the 1st reservation, if your first hotel is in the $200 range I'd just go with something like the budget boutique hotel Art Hotel Congres, which I reviewed: http://travelsort.com/blog/paris-budget-hotel-review-art-hotel-congres It's got everything you need, super nice staff, and it prices on TravelSort at $170 incl. tax and free breakfast for 9/24-9/25, not sure what it is on hotels.com

  16. Folks, if you want to take my review with a grain of salt, that’s fine. I won’t hold it against you. 99% of my travel is paid for out of pocket, and you’ll see that I often write glowing reviews of those properties too. I don’t think I put too much opinion into my review (short of thinking free iPads are cool, the breakfast was fresh, and the rooms were modern, which I think the pictures support), though feel free to take from the review what you’d like. This is my honest opinion of the place. If the pictures don’t support what I said or you don’t believe me, that’s certainly you’re right.

    @ deux centimes — That’s true, though I’ve never actually Pricelined a hotel, aside from airport hotels. While 250 Euros is a lot in absolute terms, I will say that this was the cheapest four star hotel I found for my dates.

    @ VoiceOfSanity — I don’t believe I said anywhere that I wouldn’t have paid the price of the room. If I couldn’t use points (which is obviously cheaper out of pocket) and I needed to be in Paris, I would definitely consider this place.

    @ Alex — I believe it was a superior room.

  17. @ “Dave” — In the history of my blog there has only been one person that ever used the word “shill,” and that person has used it multiple times in the comments section. C’mon, for an English major you must have a bigger vocabulary than that, no?

  18. I don’t even know what a shill is but seriously how do you get these things comp’d? Do the hotels reach out to you with offers, or do you say I’m a blogger can you cut me a deal? Just curious.

    Looks similar to Hotel Ares which we stayed at last month. Seems a few hotels in Paris have realised that they can make an effort to make a place look nice and then us American tourists will (somewhat) over look the small rooms and ludicrously over priced costs 🙂

  19. And on the point of paying, yes it DOES make a difference. Take my stay at Ares as an example. This was a GREAT hotel, staff were nice, location phenomenal, excellent facilities, comfortable room. All that you could expect. I gave it a 4* review on TA. Why not 5? 290 Euros plus 14 Euros each for breakfast burns a BIG hole in your pocket when you get back to the USA and see that come out well north of $500 on the credit card bill. I have NO doubt a blogger on a comp’d rate would be raving and giving the full 5*. When it doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket it always hurts less

    I truly wish the blogging community would follow more Gary’s role model in “just saying no” as the old 80s anti drugs ads used to say. I don’t think this is the worst. TPG can feel like one big Amex promo site at times.

  20. Guys, it’s a review where he ADMITS it’s comped. You’re supposed to take it with a grain of salt. I don’t mean that as a knock against Lucky…at least he’s honest enough to admit it upfront. As opposed to most travel mags which giving glowing reviews to places that are comped, where they never mention that it is comped…

  21. I tried to be very delicate about the comping of the room influencing the review in my above comment, but I pretty much agree with what other people are saying about this. It taints the review and throws into doubt the objectivity of the reviewer, to the extent that it becomes more or less completely worthless.

    Also, lucky, your defensive response is not unlike that of Matthew when he got comped at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Yes, it’s obvious that this is a great property, but most importantly for your readers is whether you *felt it was worth it* for the retail price that the rest of us would pay. Honestly, I would rather that you up the advertising on your blog or ask for donations than taint your reviews like that, lucky.

  22. Lucky,

    Did the hotel build you a special room, relocate the hotel to a convenient location, make you a special breakfast or provide you with custom amenities? They did didn’t they! This review is worthless!

    Seriously, all reviews have to be taken with a grain of salt. Did you have a bad flight, is the weather nice, were you cranky, did you just score a great surprise upgrade? The “pure” review doesn’t exist.

  23. Lucky,

    MULTIPLE people have asked how the comped room came about, but you have not provided an answer. What’s the story? Your write up seems more like a paid advertisement than a review.

  24. In the absence of any more information, one has to assume that lucky emailed the hotel, said he was a blogger, and requested a comp.

  25. However Ben got the room (do tell), I trust what he has to say. Ok, trust 99 and 44/100. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
    Disclaimer, I’d use my hotel points for a room, or Priceline/Hotwire.

  26. Wow, therez a lot of luckybashing going on over here. I’ve enjoyed all his reviews so far but have never commented earlier. The views being reiterated by so many people makes it appear as if its a free party and everyone is jumping in. Guys he’s been honest enough to mention that his stay was comped. If one doesnt agree with his opinion and doesnt wish to stay in the hotel for the given price dont do so. Look for another option, why blame him for what he thinks???

  27. I was wondering why this hotel is reviewed here before I noticed the full disclosure. It is easy to beat 150 Euros even in summer. Sorry.

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