The ABC's of Booking a Hotel in France
Advice on French hotels.
Paris looks like Paris because its historic streets and buildings are very well protected. That means the modern needs of a hotel must be accommodated into a historic building, with varying results. If you want high amenities, an on site gym, a bustling restaurant and air conditioning, you can get it. For a price. That will be a 4 or 5 star hotel. At the right time of year, there are deals, and booking way ahead there are deals, for example maybe one free night for every 5 booked. Expect to pay top dollar during the peak travel seasons.
Most travelers choose a 3 star hotel, which will have decent bathrooms, an elevator, air conditioning and a breakfast room if not a full restaurant. Two star hotels won’t have air conditioning. When reading online reviews, pay attention to what time of year the guest stayed in the hotel. August and no air conditioning in Paris is no more fun than it would be in New York or Miami in August.
As for neighborhood, the best deals are on the outskirts or in an unfashionable part of town, within easy metro ride of the major monuments. For nightlife, shopping or the charm of a great bakery down the street, you are going to want to be well within the city and pay accordingly.
For the rest of France, the rule of thumb is to not be afraid of booking a small family run hotel (many outside of Paris are).
The chains in France (Ibis, Mercure, etc.) are clean and reliable, but the bulk of the charming hotels are still family owned. Don't be afraid of a two-star hotel when staying in the French countryside. It may be the best hotel in the area!
France is a wonderful place to vacation. There are thousands of hotels to choose from all over France. Safe and happy travels!