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Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

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East Anglia, UK
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Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

People often post here for views on hotels, and as we all know (or should!) these are very subjective. In response to a recent post I reccommended the Mercure Terminus Nord where we have stayed quite often, as an afterthought I checked the TA reviews of the hotel and was taken aback by some of the comments which beyond subjectivity. So to try and redress the balance a bit I posted a review based on our last visit in April which I'll reproduce below.

My question for all of you is has this happened to you - a hotel or restaurant that you know and use being slated in the forums or reviews? And what do you think?

My TA review -

"We have stayed at this hotel at least ten times at different times of the year (even during the very hot summer) and are somewhat surprised by the very negative reviews that have appeared of late. True, the hotel rooms are currently being renovated which makes for some minor inconvenience as they were during our most recent stay in April - but not to the extent to warrant the hostility some guests seem to show.

During the last twelve years we have stayed in a number of the hotels in the Gare du Nord area (it’s easier for leaving and catching Eurostar) and the Terminus Nord is by far the best, as for the area being 'unsafe' - this is a myth, I have felt more unsafe in my small home town!

The hotel has a mixture of rooms in terms of size and the price you pay reflects the size of room you will get, but if you don't like it say so and you will be offered another one without any trouble or fuss. The décor of rooms may not be everybody’s taste, but the hotel is being renovated - the rooms we had a quick look in that have been done are not our taste but that wouldn't stop us staying there.

Towels and bed linen are changed daily, and the cleaning of the bathroom is always of an excellent standard.

Breakfast is the usual hotel mixed quality- fine but not outstanding. Availability of breakfast at busy times is not helped by UK and USA guests who seem to think that a buffet breakfast is a licence to stuff their shoulder bags with enough food to provide them with lunch later on (in other words - stealing food) - and it's surprising how many clearly wealthy guests do this! The breakfast room staff do their best, particularly with the number of guests who are rude and treat them as no more than servants.

The reception staff are very helpful, with at least one fluent English speaker on duty, and they to have put up with a lot of rudeness from English speaking guests - those of the 'don't bother with French just shout louder' brigade.

A great hotel in a very convenient location for bus, train and metro routes - even in walking distance from the centre of Paris.

Lastly, not a hotel for those from the USA who by the reviews here seem to be able to get a room in a palace for $20 a night!"

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1. Re: Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

All I can say is that I think some people believe that writing a review means having to be very critical with negative remarks. That would explain the negative statements for the hotel that you truly think (and I believe your opinion) deserves positive feedback. I think it is very noble of you to try to defend this hotel.

Guildford, England
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2. Re: Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

Just personally I think this is an area where cultural differences come to the fore most. If I read a review I like to know where the poster lives. In the UK and Europe we are used to much smaller rooms and bathrooms than many people from the US. That is not to criticise anybody but different levels of expectation can lead to disappointment. Also some people prefer to stay right in the middle of things. Pehaps the disappointed did not do enough reserach on the area to see if it suited them.

To get back to your original question yes there is a hotel in the 1st that I have stayed in and sent my best friend to only this year but it does not seem popular on this forum. Somebody posted recently asking if anybody had ever stayed in it as nobody would comment on it. I replied gave my reasons for liking it but recognising that it was not to all tastes ( rather quirky French rooms). She was so glad to hear that somebody liked it because she liked the look of it. However she had been persuaded to stay elsewhere but at least while she is in Paris she is going to stop by for a look.

So keep plugging your hotel.

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3. Re: Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

I agree w/ JBart. I have escorted many Americans through Paris, and they are always incredibly surprised by the "lack of amenities"...no room service, no fancy shampoo, etc. And then they get put off about the size of the rooms, the shower, etc. It's all about differences. And I can't tell you how many people expect bacon and eggs for breakfast! I think a lot of these folks are the ones who review negatively. Their misconceived expectations go unmet.


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4. Re: Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

Americans are very accustomed to "consistency" with regard to a given hotel chain, where every hotel has the same room layouts no matter what city. Chain hotels are the norm - independent hotels may be more common in large cities, such as NYC or LA, so many American travelers have not experienced what they are likely to face in the average Parisian or European hotel.

Being in a Parisian hotel, with every room being a different size or shape gives rise to a mixture of comments depending on what each customer was expecting and what they got.

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5. Re: Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

There's no accounting for personal tastes, preferences, priorities, special needs or budget.

We usually stay at a small 3-star in the upper-6eme. We really like this hotel for a LOT of reasons---most of which are purely personal, predicated on a lot of small (and some not so small) favours and considerations received over the years.

One morning I was sitting in the lobby waiting for my wife when another couple, who were not satisfied with their room, demanded another room and began by being merely rude and offensive to full-blown harangue in less time than most people take to have a new thought. . The hotel was completely full (and would remain so fo a few days) so the hotel had NO vacant rooms available. The couple then said that they planned to check out. The desk clerk reminded them that they had made a reservation for a few days..and that they had had to turn away other reservation requests...and that the hotel had a one-night cancellation policy. The couple then went ballisitic. The manager was called, and the same logic was applied. These people were not happy campers and checked out anyway. Within the hour, someone walked in off of the street looking for a room and took the one they had just vacated. The hotel decided not to charge the couple the cancellation fee---though one could scarcely blame them if they had....if only for the amount of abuse everyone at the hotel took from them.

Now is these people are writing a review of this hotel...and I'm writing a review of the same hotel...how do you suppose the reviews are going to read ??

Thessaloniki, Greece
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6. Re: Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

I have had similar experiences with paris-fanatic the last couple of years. Let's give some examples:

a) When i was looking for a hotel in Milan , one of the best ones seemed to be the Park Hyatt, but got a great deal at the Principe Di Savoia that got mixed reviews; i opted for the latter and i wasnt disapointed. I visited Park Hyatt and found the service very slow and not up to 5star standards.

b) The highly rated Mercure Beauvau at Marseille; made the mistake to choose it over the Sofitel Vieux Port; service was ok, but it's a 3star hotel not a 4star one. On the other side the raved Sofitel Palm Beach was exceptional; recently i saw a negative review which didn't like the Starck design and the overall hotl ambiance; disagree with that.

c)Plaza Copenhagen got mixed reviews; when we went there and the hotel was almost full they even upgraded us to a suite. Service wasnt the best but very polite and efficient, all in all what someone would expect from a 4star hotel in Denmark.

and finally d) The Hotel De Vigny had-and still has except my review- awful reviews here. We stayed in a Junior Suite, but we saw a couple of Executive(lowest category) rooms; they were small by US standards, but could be called spacious by Paris ones. Also it seemed that they had freshen up the rooms recently(new carpet and wallpapaer) and it was ultra-clean. Also service was very friendly and professional. Concerning the bathroom issues, they are small but very bright.

I always check reviews on many sites, like here and on yahoo and then make a decision. But personal tastes really count a lot.

Grants Pass, Oregon
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7. Re: Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

We do encounter some unusual travellers along our journeys, don't we, KDKSAIL? Bet their next hotel wasn't great either.

I have always enjoyed the offbeat hotels here in the US so feel right at home in the ones we have stayed at in Paris and in the UK. The funkier, the better. Sterility belongs in hospitals. The ONLY hotel I have ever stayed at that was unacceptable was one I booked on the internet in Glencoe, Scotland, several years ago. Instead of actual pictures, there was an artist's rendering of the place. So I learned my lesson and only book from sites that have actual pictures and then I do a search for TA's posters opinions/recommendations. Then I make my own, hopefully informed, decision In this way I have always had a charming-albeit- perhaps funky- hotel in Paris or where ever. And if I don't, I have only me to blame.

over here
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8. Re: Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

I think it's simple human nature... people who aren't satisfied (for whatever reason) will tell anyone and everyone about their bad experience. Very few people pass on good experiences. I work in a very customer oriented line of work and I would say the complaints to compliments ratio is about 25 to 1. And approximately 24 of those 25 times, the complaint is actually with a protocol or policy, not the actual service they received.

Fort Lauderdale...
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9. Re: Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

I really have enjoyed reading this thread so much! I especially relate to the comments about posters who downgrade a hotel based on it's decor! I remember one post that dissed a hotel because they "don't like blue." For heaven's sake, we're not asking if you want to live there- just sleep there for a few days. Two of the hotels we stayed at in France - one in Bayeaux and the one in Paris- were certainly not decorated anything like my own home( but I am decor challenged so that is probably for the best). The one in Bayeax was just a simple Inn that actually had put the same carpet as on the floor on the walls- really tacky but what it did was provide marvelous soundproofing! In Paris, we stayed at the Hotel Argenson, a tiny, cheap, 2* near Haussman and my BF and I still laugh about the decor which we call "early bordello" lots of chintz in bright colors , ruffled bedspread, mismatched colors- but what it was was clean, well located for us and the staff was so friendly. It was also a great bargain and was in a safe albeit very boring part of Paris ( once the offices closed it was very lonely). But we loved them both as a place to stay- would we want to live permanently in either- Nope- but they were fine for what we needed. I can't get over so many people who complain on many forums ( is that Fori?) that the little toiletries either were not provided or were not what they like. Do these folks actually travel without at least little containers of their favorite shampoo etc.? If we find a bar of soap of any kind , we're happy - we always have our own with us in case, and collect the others as we travel. The ones that we don't care for are donated to the homeless. Do folks actually think a hotel should know that they don't like a certain type of shampoo?

Well, I am preaching to the choir- just had to rant- I saw one 4* hotel in Vegas reviewed with the caption "Dump, Dump Dump" and when I read it the guest had had a snappy desk clerk and not the Strip view he was insisting he should have- how does that make a hotel a dump? Different strokes for differnt folks I know, but I hope people look at lots of reviews and don't panic over a few bad ones- usually the average is more telling! There's a post now in the Rome Forum that has "candid user photos" of a hotel - and the photos just happen to be duplicates of the one's on the hotels website- hmmm!

All we can do is read as much as possible and be willing to be adventurous- I KNOW I can exist for quite a while without access to my preferred shampoo!

Atlanta, Georgia
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10. Re: Perceptions of Parisian Hotels

It's true that Americans seem to expect more from hotels. When I first started reading the reviews of hotels in Paris, I couldn't believe them. As another poster mentioned, people were actually complaining about not getting free shampoo in their room. For god sakes, who doesn't bring their own shampoo when they travel?

My sister first introduced me to TA after I had a horrible experience at a hotel in Florida. She said you have to take the reviews with a grain of salt, but if nearly everyone has the same complaint, at least you know what to expect and if you can deal with it. She and her husband booked a hotel in Mexico, and everyone on TA said the hotel was great but the mattresses were really hard. So they just expected the mattresses to be really hard, and they were able to enjoy their trip.

When I was looking for hotels in Paris, I read a lot of reviews that complained about how small the rooms were. I had no idea -- I'd never been to Europe. But after all those reviews, I expected my room to be small, it was, and I didn't care.

I've learned to consider the source of both restaurant and hotel reviews, by the way people give their critiques. If someone is just being picky, I usually dismiss their review. But with one hotel I looked at, everyone said you have to confirm several times or the hotel loses your reservation. That's not something I want to deal with, no matter how pretty the bedspread is or how much free shampoo they give you.