A Family Adventure in Paris – Part 3 – Le Meridien Etoile

Overview: A very large hotel, mainly designed to cater to conference guests

Strengths: Located on the Metro’s Number 1 line, convenient to the Palais des Congres, non-stop Air France bus drop off directly across the street

Drawbacks: Tiny rooms (even by local standards), some staff issues (front desk, concierge)

 

I booked our hotel stay using the last of my Starwood points.  The property is a category 5, and it cost 12,000 points per night per regular room for our stay.  I booked two rooms, and upgraded each to executive rooms for a few points extra.

I called and emailed a week or two in advance of our arrival to try to pre-reserve connecting rooms.  Both inquiries were met with “sorry, only based on availability upon arrival.”  The front office manager wouldn’t block rooms for us.

When we arrived at 1pm, we were initially told that check-in time was 3pm, and it would be “impossible” to gain access to our rooms in advance.  I asked if our rooms were still being cleaned, and the agent said they were.  She then said she could make a “special exception” and call me when the rooms were ready.  She took care of all the check-in formalities at this point.

Front desk - small for a 1,000+ room property!

Lobby

Lobby

Lift lobby

We went out for a quick bite to eat, returning to the hotel at 2pm.  A different agent assisted us, and again reminded us that check-in was 3pm.  I made reference to the “special exception” the prior agent offered, and after a few keystrokes, I was given our room keys.

In general, I’m quite a fan of French culture, cuisine and language.  When speaking English, the French often use the word “impossible” with a little different meaning than Americans use.  This is one of the few French-isms that gets a bit under my skin.  “No, it’s not “impossible,” you’re simply working under some arbitrary rule,” is often what goes through my mind when I hear that word in Paris.

In any event, we were glad to be in our rooms.  The rooms, which were upgraded “executive” rooms, were amongst the smallest I’ve ever been in.  Even such mid-tier hotels as the Mansfield in New York City have slightly larger rooms.  Beyond the size, the rooms were at least newly renovated, fairly stylish and quite clean.

Some of the walls had a high-gloss Zebrano wood covering, which I find quite attractive, particularly with some chrome accent pieces.  Part of the wall between the washroom and the bedroom had an opaque plexiglass section with an image of a woman on it.  Unto itself, this was fine, but if you turned on the light in the washroom in the evening, it had the effect of lighting up the bedroom as well.

Executive room

Corridor on Executive floor

Small PC area on the Executive floor

The hotel has 1,025 rooms, and claims to be the largest hotel in Paris.  Indeed, each floor had well over 100 rooms.  The hotel never felt unbearably large; had someone said it was a 400 key hotel, it would have been believable.  Frankly, if fully occupied, the six check-in/check-out stations would seem woefully insufficient.

The hotel is directly across the street from the Palais des Congres, a large convention center in Paris.  The Meridien, and one other hotel on the same block, are clearly designed to cater to large groups of conventioneers.  Indeed, during our stay, the European Association of Urologists was holding their annual meeting at the convention center.  It was clear that there were convention-oriented meet-ups in the lobby of our hotel.  Unlike bankers, who seem to overtake hotels during conferences, I’m pleased to report that urologists are a much more discrete crowd.

Palais des Congres

In the Palais de Congres, there was also a full shopping mall, with a number of mid and high end brands represented.  Air France had a ticket office in the complex, as well.  Based on some advice from FlyerTalk, we made the Galleries Gourmand market (located in the Palais), and their affiliated Paul coffee shop, our place for breakfast each day.  While not inexpensive (€30 per day), it was far less than what we would have paid at the hotel for breakfast for four (€60-ish), and frankly, quite tasty.  They had high tables with stools, and we clearly were eating with locals who were on the move on the way to their office or other important meetings.  Though in no way fancy, we were able to have a wide variety of foods (hot and cold), fresh fruits, juices at a very reasonable price for an in-city location.

Galleries Gourmand and Paul

The "deluxe" hotel restaurant

The "less deluxe" hotel restaurant

The hotel is not really located near any major tourist sites within Paris.  The hotel is, however, located on the Metro’s 1 line, at the Port Maillot stop (access was via the Palais, very close to Galleries Gourmand).  We used the Metro as our method of transportation nearly everywhere – and once you’re getting on the train, it really doesn’t matter if you’re getting on at the Tuilleries or out at Port Maillot.

We didn’t partake in any food or drink at the hotel (save a beer or two from the mini-bar).  There were a number of dining options in the hotel available if desired.

I found the concierge to be of little assistance.  Of the three or four requests we made, the only one they were able to successfully help with was increasing the number of people in a restaurant booking one night (a booking I made in advance of arriving in Paris).  Asking for a recommendation to a spot with mobile phone rentals (I wanted to get a wifi hotspot, similar to what I had in Japan).  It took all three staff on duty at the concierge stand to determine it was “impossible” to rent/hire a phone.  Upon doing some quick post-trip research, I found several options about 5 to 10 minutes away from the hotel.  What the concierge staff did seem good at was receiving packages and documents, and holding them for others to pick up.  Recognizing the vast majority of their guests must be conference-goers, this is probably the skill they best need.

For the week I was visiting, Executive rooms were being offered at €329 per night, per room.  That is about $440 per night.  I used 116,000 points for four nights in two rooms, saving about $3,520, or about $0.03 per SPG point.  While far from my best SPG redemption ever, not the worst use, either.  It looks like room rates vary widely at this hotel, and I've seen rooms as low as €139 recently.  I suspect the price varies widely, based on the meeting schedule at the Palais.  At the lowest prices, a redemption makes little sense here.  However, when they're at their higher rates, it isn't a crazy decision to use points.

Le Meridien Etoile is a very convenient hotel if you have a conference to attend at the Palais.  Considering the other two SPG options that I considered (Westin, f/k/a InterContinental and the brand new W) were a bunch more points, I was satisfied with my choice.  I wouldn’t see returning to the Meridien again, however, unless on points or if I had a conference at the Palais to attend.

 

Details
Le Meridien Etoile
www.lemeridienetoile.com
81 Boulevard Gouvion Saint-Cyr · 75848 Paris Cedex 17 · France
Phone: + (33)(0)1 40 68 34 34

Comments