Hotel Review: Paris' Hotel Academie
5 star location, 3 star room. And the bathroom? Oh my stars!
Every writer - and perhaps every single visitor - dreams of a cozy nest to call their own in Paris. Even the most humble of Parisian hotels can't help but be romantic. All you need to do is look out the window and you'll find a reason to swoon! I've been searching for a while for a "go-to" hotel in Paris and therefore, with a few romantic flutters in my writing soul, I was keen to try the Hotel Academie.
If you're looking for the perfect location in the heart of Paris, Hotel Academie is the spot for you. It's perfectly positioned just a few steps off St. Germain-des-Pres and a two minute walk from the St Germain metro station. It's a 10 minute stroll from most of Paris' main sites, from the Louvre to Notre Dame to Musee D'Orsay. Late at night, St Germain still felt lively and well lit and there were plenty of cafes and bars open to provide evening entertainment. In fact, my only complaint about the location was the lack of a nearby morning bakery - all the more reason to keep exploring!
The hotel is small and, aside from a lobby and a bar/breakfast room, it doesn't have any common areas but that was just fine for me. It's a challenge to find an affordable hotel in central Paris and I know that extra amenities cost a lot of extra money.
One amenity Hotel Academie does have is an elevator. It's one of the tiniest elevators I've ever seen! We had to remove our modest backpacks in order to both fit inside! While this would be an uncomfortable experience for anyone with claustrophobia, it's worth noting that many Parisian hotels have no elevator at all, so we were very grateful for the ride!
You'll get to know the lobby quite well by the end of your stay. You're required to leave your large, old fashioned room key at the front desk when you go out and then pick it up again when you return. While I was initially taken aback by this, I came to appreciate the security of having the front desk staffed 24 hours a day and, in an odd way, knowing that someone was keeping an eye out for us. The staff were impeccably polite, very friendly, and they spoke excellent English. There was absolutely nothing to support the (false) reputation that Parisians are snobby.
Having read some online hotel reviews in advance, I had been forewarned that the standard rooms were tiny and, I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much. But as soon as I walked in the room I exclaimed "It's so pretty!" Talk about being pleasantly surprised!
Our room was so charming and so beautiful and I couldn't stop saying "I'm so happy" and "I'm so glad!" It seemed exactly what a tiny Parisian garret room should be. Yes, it was absolutely tiny - in fact, I think it was the smallest hotel room I've ever stayed in! But it was lovely, with pretty bedding and stylish drapes. There was a tiny desk and nightstand, a flat screen TV mounted on the wall, and a very small closet that did contain a safe and a mini bar. We were traveling light so we had no problem finding a place to store our backpacks in the room. The Wi-Fi was first rate and I had no problem keeping up with my online work.
While the tiny room was perfectly acceptable, the even tinier bathroom was a real challenge. There's no doubt that I've never had a smaller bathroom. The shower was so microscopic that I had a problem raising my arms above my head to wash my hair! The shower door opening was so small that I first feared I wouldn't be able to get in! I had to step out of the bathroom just to have enough space to wrap a towel around me and towel dry my hair.
The bathroom could best be described as "shabby". While everything was technically clean, it was showing plenty of wear around the edges and needed a lot of maintenance. The effects of dampness was evident on the paint and trim and, while it might have been an acceptable bathroom at a rural cabin, it was miles below the standards of the bedroom. It's possible that there were larger bathrooms in the deluxe rooms but guests staying in a standard room should book with caution if the tiny space and shabby conditions would be a concern.
No matter where I stay, I always say that the most important thing is having a good sleep and Hotel Academie made the grade. The mattress was excellent, both supportive and cushy, and we were able to sleep soundly. I did have my sleep disrupted on the second night due to both jet lag and the room temperature. The radiator in our room was in overdrive and on both nights we slept with the window open. Happily, the swoon-worthy Parisian views were right there waiting for us!
So would I stay at Hotel Academie again? Is it good enough to be my go-to hotel in Paris? That's a tough call. We were lucky to book this hotel for 109 Euros a night, combing a sale on Orbitz with a coupon code. It's rare to get such a low price in the St Germain area. If I found this price again I would consider a repeat visit for a night or two but I wouldn't consider it my go-to hotel. The bathroom was sub-par and I would rather stay at a facility with a spacious, modern, shared washroom than a tiny, shabby personal bathroom. Had I paid the regular price of 150 Euros I would have been quite disappointed, so it's fair to say my satisfaction is closely tied to the discounted price.
I'd love to hear from you! Where's your favourite place to stay in Paris?
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18/4/2014 03:38:15 am
Me too! It's my favourite place to visit!
You're right in your assessment Vanessa. At EUR109 a night, your hotel was good value for money in that location, but at EUR150, no way. Looking at your photos and description the place I normally stay is probably a much better deal. I've just paid EUR160 for a bigger room (but still Paris-sized) with full size wardrobe, excellent free wifi, located in the pricy 7th. The bathrooms can still be pretty small (although I scored with a bath this time) but are modern, well maintained and immaculate. I got it slightly cheaper by staying a min of 4 nights and booking direct on their website (good tip - some hotels in Europe are cheaper if you book direct online, rather than via a booking site), but even at EUR175 I think it would be better value for money, so yes, better deals are out there if you have to pay full price
18/4/2014 03:40:36 am
Great tips Jo - if you must pay full price (ie: there are no Orbitz coupon codes to use!) it's almost always cheaper to book directly with the hotel and staying for several nights usually results in a more economical price. Sometimes there are extra perks included like museum passes! In Bruges (in nearby Belgium) direct booking almost always comes with a bottle of wine or a box of local chocolate!
18/4/2014 06:25:25 am
I've never even attempted macaroons before so I applaud your efforts (even if the results were found lacking!)
18/4/2014 09:33:40 am
I got lucky in the one time I went to Paris with my husband on business we had an enormous room and you could lay in bed and look out the window at the Eiffel Tower. It was like a dream come true. Of course, all museum workers were on strike the entire week I was there so I didn't get to enjoy any of those sights and I was unemployed at the time and didn't want to spend money shopping or going to fancy restaurants so I mostly rode the Metro, walked the streets and sat in parks during the day. It was lovely but I hope to go back and get to do a bit more next time.
18/4/2014 11:14:34 am
That sounds like a dream hotel room! Maybe you're destined to do the Parisian dream in stages - first trip brought a dream hotel room, maybe the next trip will be an art lover's dream.
22/4/2014 09:37:46 am
The bed and the view look lovely but the bathroom sounds like a challenge at best.
22/4/2014 12:29:33 pm
That's the perfect summary sentence!
8/12/2014 04:20:23 pm
I love your blog. I think the hotel reviews are a fab idea too. And I like the title re the bathroom. Vanessa you are a great blogger and traveller and love following your journey. From Exploramum and Explorason
11/12/2014 01:05:17 am
Hi Ruth! Thanks for your kind comments! Are you planning a trip to Paris any time soon - I'd love to hear where you stayed and if you'd recommend it.
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