Because both myself and Mrs B spend a significant amount of time travelling around France and staying in what would politely be described as ‘budget’ hotels I think we can describe ourselves as familiar with the French travel experience, as carefully avoided by the rich and prosperous.
It’s not that we aren’t rich and prosperous of course, just that we don’t want Francois Hollande to know about it and start sending us wealth tax bills, or so I like to tell myself.
Anyway, it doesn’t take long to realise that lower priced hotels are very varied in the quality they provide. Some hotels manage to provide great quality and service, others not so much…so I thought I’d share some of the quirks of the French hotel industry with any one who is planning a trip to France.
Five quick tips for French hoteliers
1) Stating that ‘your modern room features a flat screen television with international channels’ might or might not be accurate if you provide a tiny flatscreen TV with a choice between Spanish and Austrian channels (this happened to me a couple of weeks ago) but it is more than slightly misleading. Unless you are in Spain or Austria of course, which I wasn’t.
2) Promising that your hotel has ‘wifi everywhere’ when it actually only has wifi in a small corner of the hotel lobby is becoming less common but still happens quite a lot. Of course, hotels will always claim it is a temporary ‘technical’ problem rather than admit they don’t use wifi themselves so don’t really understand why guests might need to either.
2) If at 4pm on check-in day your hotel sends an email ‘reminder’ to arriving guests that check-in before 6pm is not possible (tThis happened to me last week) please note that this is too late!
I only knew because Mrs B sent me a text to tell me, but how many people actually check their email when they are travelling and not yet arrived at their hotel?
3) iss your ‘Full Buffet breakfast’ a small table with a choice of natural yoghurt, stale cornflakes or supermarket croissants costing 10 euros per person? One hotel where I stayed last week proudly brought me a plate of lightly toasted bread left over from the night before and called it breakfast. Yummy?
There is enormous variety in what a hotel considers to constitute a buffet breakfast, the quality seems largely unrelated to price, and it’s very hard to find out in advance, so the prospect of coming across a hotel that does an excellent breakfast adds quite a lot of excitement to a visit!
5) Is your room decor based on photos taken in the local prison? Is it really so hard to have a bit of a colour scheme? A comfortable chair? A couple of pictures of the local scenery? Look at photos of other hotel rooms, steal their ideas…
Same for staff. Paying for staff that are helpful, friendly and give the impression they like working in your hotel costs you the same as staff that are grumpy and unhelpful. I know, it’s a family business and you have to give jobs to your family, but if they are a miserable bunch you still have to sort them out!
I was quite surprised to be greeted by someone in a Logis hotel a while ago that I swear looked just like everyone’s favourite French hotel landlord, Thénardier (as seen in this Les Miserables video). His wife, I’m pleased to say, was an altogether more normal person!
But there is also good news for travellers:
- hotels that cost 80 or 90 euros per night two years ago often seem to be 60 or 70 euros now for hotels of comparable quality, so perhaps some good has come of the crisis across Europe after all..
- I don’t remember the last time I stayed in a hotel in France that didn’t seem clean and tidy. Perhaps I’m still paying too much.
Challenge for next year
It is often possible, if challenging, to find hotels in France at 25-30 euros a night – and I imagine many of them would come with their own amusing anecdotes about bed bugs, noisy plumbing and food poisoning thrown in for free, but I’m hoping to avoid those stories for the time being…perhaps that can be a task for Mrs B in 2013, tracking down the cheapest hotel in France?