When I was 9 years old, my parents loaded us into the car one summer weekend and off we drove to Paris. We didn’t have hotels booked, we didn’t have a tour booked. We just got into the car, drove, and picked a place to stay once we got there. This was back in the day, when there was no internet and you had to visit a travel agent to book a hotel – the summer of 1997.
Things have changed and most of us have tools available to research our trips beforehand in order to get the best deals. It’s certainly nice to head to a city without knowing where you’ll stay, but for the less adventurous souls, here are a few tips on saving money in Paris:
1. Low Season. Low season in Paris is January – March. As you can imagine the weather isn’t quite as pleasant. April – May is a good compromise, with lower prices and decent weather.
2. Choose the right district. Almost as important as the season you’re traveling in, is the district you’re staying in. The 16th Arrondissement is one of the poshest, home to upscale hotels like the Four Seasons Hotel George V. Everything from hotels to restaurants and food won’t be cheap in this area. On the other hand, the 19th is one of the cheapest.
Wikitravel has a great description of the 20 district of Paris and their notable attractions. Decide which area you’d like to explore and take into account what you’ll be spending on transportation before booking your travel accommodations.
3. Chain Hotels. The Park Hyatt Paris Vendome and Hyatt Madeleine are both category 6 properties, with rates going upwards of $1,000 night and redemptions at 22,000 points per night. The Park Hyatt is one of the top hotels in the city and one bloggers are particularly very fond of.
Hyatt recently added two new Paris hotels, only one of which is worth noting: Hotel Du Louvre, a category 5 hotel requiring just 18,000 points per night.
Since Hilton severed its relationship with the former Hilton Arc de Triomphe Paris (now the Hotel du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe), there are no longer any centrally located redemption options. If you’re eager to redeem your Hilton HHonors points in Paris, however, you can shell out 60,000+ points per night at Hilton La Defense. It is a very steep redemption rate for a hotel in the business district, so this isn’t an advisable redemption.
Starwood has several notable options in the city. For 20,000 points per night, you can book the Westin Paris Vendome. For a bit of a splurge, both the W Paris Opera and Prince de Galles are available for 30,000 points per night. The Prince de Galles property is the priciest option, going for around $900 per night in the summer. All of these properties are eligible for Starwood’s 5th night free, bringing redemption rates down by 20%.
Club Carlson has three centrally located properties in Paris, all of which are category 6 hotels requiring 50,000 points per night: The Radisson Blu Champs Elysees generally has the highest rates, upwards of $540 per night in August. Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan is the most popular of the three hotels, making it onto Conde Nast Traveler’s Hot List in 2010. Located less than a mile from the Eiffel Tower, some of its rooms even boasting views of the famed monument. Radisson Blu Le Dokhan is less than half a mile away and offers the lowest rates. Both the Le Metropolitan and Le Dokhan are in the 16th Arrondissement, but Le Metropolitan has the advantage with larger rooms and modern, sleek decor.
With the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa offering a free night with the redemption of two or more nights, any of these properties can be booked for as little as 25,000 points per night.
IHG Club has over a dozen properties in Paris, ranging from 20,000-50,000 points per night. The most notable is the Intercontinental Le Grand, which averages about $520 per night in the summer.
Best Western is a great low-budget option, with rates at the Best Western Premier Trocadero la Tour going as low as $160 in the summer.
4. Non-Chain Hotels. There are plenty of non-chain hotels in Paris with rates under $200 per night. While you won’t get a whole lot of luxury at those rates, you can still get a decent hotel in a good location. With rates as low as $160 per night, Duminy Vendome is a great value in the area.
If you want to be close to the Eiffel Tower, Europe Hotel Paris is a great option at $140 per night. Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacre Coeur in Montmarte is a steal at $165 per night. There are plenty of affordable options to choose from, no matter which area you decide to stay in.
5. Rent a Place. Renting a place in Paris is a great way to save money on food and lodging, while getting a chance to experience the city as a local.
If you want to stay in the 16th Arrondissement without paying high hotel rates, you can book a studio for as little as $81 per night during high season. Fancy an Eiffel Tower view? This quaint apartment rents for $153 per night.
6. Transportation. There are lots of options for getting around the city. Walking is a great way to take in the sights, but if you’re looking to travel longer distances, there are lots of public transit options.
For $25, you can purchase a one-week metro pass for unlimited rides within select zones. Those under the age of 26 can purchase a discounted metro pass starting at $5, which is good for use on weekends and holidays.
7. Food. Whether you’re craving something upscale or a good old fashioned cheeseburger, there are restaurants catering to every palette and budget.
If you have elite status with the hotel chain you’re staying in, you can enjoy a hearty breakfast free of charge. For an affordable option, head to a local cafe/bakery for fresh baked croissants and coffee. Crepe stands and ethnic restaurants are great options for cheap meals.
8. Activities. If you’re worried that museum admission fees alone will take a big bite out of your activities budget, the Paris Museum Pass might be for you. You can choose from a 2-day ($50), 4-day ($70), or 6-day pass ($90) pass, which will grant you unlimited entry to over 60 museums. I would try to get a shorter pass and get the museums out of the way. This leaves time to explore other facets of the city and saves you a bit of cash.
Admission to the Louvre is free on the first Sunday of the month, as well as on July 14. On Fridays between 6:00 PM – 9:45 PM, admission is free for those under the age of 26.
Despite its upscale reputation, Paris can be a great value destination on both points and cash.
Got any money-saving tips for Paris? Please share them in the comment section.
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