April 2, 2015

Paris: Choosing a Hotel -- Citadines Tour Eiffel Paris


To officially kick off our Paris trip posts, today I am sharing what hotel we stayed at.  After literally months of research I settled on Citadines Tour Eiffel Paris.  It is a lovely little hotel that seemed to specialize in long term stay and apartment like amenities (And yes, it is located on top of a McDonald's!).

It is located in what is considered a more residential part of town near the Eiffel Tower.  There were plenty of places to eat and shop nearby and we enjoyed seeing a bit of the everyday life of Paris.  It is not as quaint or lined with hotels as some other more touristy parts but we were pretty happy with it's location overall.

The lengthiness of my research mainly came down to what location we wanted to stay in, what the hotel looked like, and to stay within a certain budget.  So first I plotted all the main places we wanted to go and divided it up by a few destinations per day.  I used the online tool, Tripomatic, to plot out where everything was.  Having zero prior experience with where things were in Paris, this really helped me have a better understanding geographically.


Honestly, I just wanted to stay close to the Eiffel Tower.  There are a lot of beautiful and cheaper places to stay the further out you get, but I wanted to be able to come and go to the Eiffel Tower whenever I wanted.  A bit cliche but I ended up being really happy with the neighborhood we stayed in.  We went to the Eiffel Tower multiple times as well as stopped there on the way out for the day or on our way home to picnic for breakfast or a late night snack.  I really wanted to be able to get a few iconic pictures of us and the Eiffel Tower so I made sure we had lots of opportunities to stop by.

I found a few hotels that I liked within our price range close to the Eiffel Tower.  I then plotted how far the hotel was to some of the other destinations we would be going to.  I wanted to find a place that ended up being in a good location overall for our trip.  I then made a list of the hotels, their distances, cost, ratings, and amenities.  I used it as a pro and con list weighing which I believed to be the overall best value.

As for the look of the hotel, I wanted it to feel Parisian but not too bed and breakfast.  I wanted modern but with character.  And most definitely clean.  I read a lot that you are to expect that the rooms would be small so I wanted something that felt spacious in decor to make up for the small size.


Then the final detail I researched were Eiffel Tower views.  If you want to stay in a guaranteed Eiffel Tower view room, you are going to pay big bucks.  There was no way we could afford any of the hotels that offered a guaranteed view.  But it still lingered in my brain as do all my crazy little dreams.

So when I found out that Citadines had a room with a chance at a partial Eiffel Tower view room at a reasonable cost, I caught a glimmer of hope.  But I had to decide that the room still was nice enough for how much it cost if we did not end up getting an Eiffel Tower view room.  It was a risk worth taking for a chance at a view.  So we decided we were ready to book.


Now the whole booking a hotel room in another country was a brand new experience.  After going back and forth (for days) on this hotel, committing to travel dates and aligning flights with, the day I went to book it all, the room we wanted was no longer available.  Let's just say it was an incredibly stressful day.

I ended up figuring out that the first two nights of our stay were no longer available for the room we wanted but the remaining six nights were.  So we decided to book a smaller and cheaper room for the first two nights and then switched to the room we wanted the last six nights.


This included waking up in the middle of the night to be on Paris time to send and reply to emails.  I could not figure out how to call directly to the hotel.  And in between all of this I messed up some of the details that ended up booking us an extra night in Seattle on the way home.  I was on the phone with IcelandAir and had to cancel and reschedule a flight.  Did I mention that it was incredibly stressful?!

It all worked out in the end.  We had to pay for an extra night in Seattle but it ended up working in our favor.  But man, international trip planning is a whole new ball game.

Another side note, though I use many online deal sites for leads to hotels running deals, after researching them, I decided to only book directly with a hotel.  I read one too many horror stories of travelers getting to their hotel only to find that they did not have a reservation.  Because they dealt with a deal site they could not work something out directly through the hotel.  I decided spending a little extra money for peace of mind was worth it.


So after a long and crazy reservation process, all this to say, we were quite pleased with our small little room we got for the first two nights.  The room was clean and modern with our own little kitchen.


The bathroom was even equipped with a place to line dry our clothes.


The decor was simple and tasteful.  But the view was really the show stopper.  Talk about a Parisian dream come true.


The view into this little courtyard surrounded by apartments was a dream.  Though the hotel was right on the street and next to the train our room was tucked away where we heard zero street noise.


So instead we started and ended each day getting little glimpses of a light on in a room or a dinner table getting set from across the courtyard.  It was pretty idyllic.


I was so pleased with our room and view that we could have easily had our entire stay here and would have been completely satisfied with our experience.  Though changing rooms was an inconvenience in all of our planning, having this quaint and quite room was an experience I was grateful for.


And just down the street was the Eiffel Tower.  Being walking distance away on our first day in Paris seemed pretty perfect.


When I made reservations I made sure to leave a note that we requested an Eiffel Tower view for our larger room and that we were celebrating our five year anniversary.  The day we arrived at the hotel I reminded them.  And they let me know that they already knew that was my request and they could not promise anything.

The day we were to move rooms, we brought our luggage down to have held for us.  I reminded them again of their request.  They reassured me that they already knew but could not promise anything.  We left for the day and would not know about our room until we checked in again that evening.

While we had another wonderful day in Paris, our late night walk home was a rough one.  We ended up getting lost and my feet were killing me.  Let's just say it was most definitely the low of our trip.  I was in tears my feet hurt so badly.

My poor husband lead us back to the hotel which he later told me that he was praying the whole time that we would get good news about our room.

So as we arrived back to the hotel, we retrieved our luggage and got our room assignment.  After the man gave us the rundown of our room, I kindly asked, one more time, if we were able to get an Eiffel Tower room view.  It was as if he already assumed I knew.


  He replied, "yes!"


It was as if my feet underwent a miracle.  What blister foot pain?  I got myself an Eiffel Tower view room!!!


And that wasn't even the end of the good news.  Because we were staying six nights we were given robes and slippers, room cleaning service, as well as free continental buffet breakfast each morning. This was all new news to us!  It just kept getting better.  We were ecstatic!


Each night when the Eiffel Tower lights up, it puts on a lovely light show every hour.  We got to watch the light show from our room every night at least once. 


The next morning the view was just as fun.  We started our day watching the hustle and bustle of Parisian life begin.  It was definitely much louder than our previous room but we barely noticed the noise when we had the room closed up.


Though it takes about an hour to get from the airport (CDG) into the city it was quite convenient that the train stopped literally right in front of our hotel room.  No dragging our luggage down the street for miles (but don't worry, we got to do plenty of that in Seattle).


Because we were on our own for breakfast the previous days, we did the whole bakery breakfast and picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower thing.  By the time we got to our new room with breakfast, we were all about filling up for the day.  We quickly found out how expensive food was so we made sure to leave full from our hotel each morning.  While we loved the bakery breakfast idea, having free breakfast each morning is definitely something I would recommend for the future.


The weather is constantly changing in Paris.  Cloudy one second, sunny with rain another.  Seeing the many changing views of the tower from our room was always enjoyable.


We could not actually see the Eiffel Tower from our bed at night, so my sweet husband helped me pick up the bed each night and place it in the middle of the room (it was surprisingly light and easy to move).  That way each night I could fall asleep looking at the glow from the tower.


Our room ended up being the only room with a balcony.  It was very small but made for good photos and taking a peek outside.  I honestly am still overwhelmed at what a dream room this ended up being.  I really chalk it up to lots of research, plenty of luck, and perhaps just enough kind pushiness! 


Besides the lovely rooms, we had a great experience with all the staff that we interacted with.  Our luggage was safe and locked away the day we had to change rooms as well.  We were nothing but pleased with our experience at Citadines.


There are so many tips and advice out there on the internet and through well meaning friends and family.  If I followed the advice I got, I would have ended up in an adorable Parisian cottage tucked away in a darling part of town.  I am sure it would have been wonderful.  But instead I truly wanted the Eiffel Tower experience.

Now that we have done the Eiffel Tower (and you will see we did it A LOT) I would most definitely go for something different next time.  But I needed to allow ourselves to live out the dream of Paris I had and not the dream of others.

I truly believe that if you are willing to do the research and have a very clear idea of the type of vacation you want, you can often make it happen even within your budget.  I had my heart set on being close to the Eiffel Tower and the idea of having a view of it lingered deep.  I took a risk to finding the dream room and it played out much in our favor. 

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