PARIS — Hotel de Londres & Anvers is perfect for the budget-conscious traveler who plans to spend most of his or her time out and about in Paris and not holed up in a hotel.
First impressions always count, true, but take a deep breath upon arrival. Located near two of Paris' biggest rail stations, Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est, the hotel draws a largely European crowd that apparently doesn't mind forgoing the amenities that so many fussy American travelers insist on, namely space, decor, an elevator big enough for you and your luggage to ride together, and check-in upon arrival.
Still, the place grows on you.
The room rates are relatively low, especially important with the lousy dollar-euro exchange rate.
There is an ample cold breakfast buffet free for guests. And some staffers are really lots of fun, ready with a smile or a joke. They also will book restaurant reservations for you. All speak English.
Hotel de Londres & Anvers is within walking distance of the Montmartre district. The artists who gave that district its bohemian air may largely have been replaced by brush-wielding hacks working the tourist trade, but Montmartre's winding narrow streets still enchant, and the white dome of Sacre Coeur still soars high into the Parisian sky.
The city center is just a couple of Metro stops away. And train travelers coming or going from points east or north of Paris will find the hotel a convenient stop.
Checking in: Cursory welcome.
Doesn't matter how groggy you are from that trans-Atlantic red-eye flight, you can't get that room until 2:30 p.m. —or 2:15 if they take pity on you. Have bags?
You will be instructed to drop them in a dingy, unsecured storage room near the front desk. Kill time by wandering along a very tired-looking Boulevard Magenta, which seems to be, judging by the number of bridal shops, the spot in Paris for cheap wedding dresses. Just down the block, at152, Boulevard Magenta, is a cafe called Le Magenta. The menu is in French and English (not a good sign), and an English tea is offered in the afternoon.
The fare is acceptable, but locals seem only to dash in for coffee or a beer.
Rooms: We had booked a room for three people. What we got was one medium-size room taken up largely by two beds and a second room holding a third bed. This second room was more of an L-shaped alcove, because much of the space had been gobbled up when the bathroom was installed. There is no decoration save for the printed sheer curtains hanging on the French doors that serve as windows. The beds are plain but quite comfortable. Each is covered with a no-nonsense blue blanket. The sheets are clean and starched. A built-in closet has four shelves, plus one extra pillow and a thick blanket. There is no iron or ironing board. A small television is mounted on the wall near the ceiling in the larger of the two rooms. A tiny desk with chair is in the smaller room. The rooms have direct-dial telephones and Internet connections.
Bathroom: A large, up-to-date space kept very clean. The bathtub is equipped with a detachable hand-held shower attachment whose leaky hose dramatically reduced water pressure. With only two bath and hand towels in the bath, the front desk quickly gave us a third set. There were three small bars of green-tea soap and three vials of green-tea-scented shampoo. The bathroom has a built-in blow-dryer.
Kid-friendly: Children are certainly among the guests, but there is nothing particularly special for them.
Perks and peeves: No room service. There is a complimentary breakfast buffet served in the hotel's table-lined reception room. The acid-green chairs there will wake you up faster than any coffee. The buffet has plenty of choices, including yogurt, dried cereal, juices, coffee, croissants and rolls, jam, cheeses and butter. There are vending machines stocked with bottled water, juices, snacks and candy.
The hotel has a computer terminal near the front desk for guests. Wi-Fi is available only in the hotel's breakfast room. The cost ranges from1.5 euros (about $2) for 30 minutes to 7 euros (about $10) for 24 hours. The elevator is ridiculously small by U.S. standards but is the French norm.
Price: I paid $158.51 a night for my triple room, reserving and paying dollars in advance from the United States. The hotel has 64 rooms, ranging from singles to rooms for four people. Posted rates range from 95 to180 euros (about $130-$250) a night. There are also12 studios in a new area of the hotel. The rate for those is 220 euros ($300) a night.
Bottom line: Located in the10th Arrondissement, Hotel de Londres & Anvers is perfect for the budget-conscious traveler.
HOTEL DE LONDRES & ANVERS
131-133 Blvd Magenta, 75010 Paris