Whatever you do, stay away from Paris Hilton

OK, that's not exactly what I meant, but apparently, I wasn't the only person to have a lousy travel experience in France recently. While at the Hilton in Paris, Alex suffered mightily and wrote this "nastygram" while waiting for somebody to come and turn down the heat in his room:

I am shocked at the condition and facilities at this property.

At €450 a night one would expect to be able to turn the heat on or off in your room. Instead, you are either baking or freezing because the heat cannot be controlled by the guest. A tech has to be called to do it.

There is no gym. The bathroom smells. The furniture is dinged. There is no voicemail for guests. The Wi-Fi charges are outrageous. Reception doesn’t answer the phone. The public areas are worn and shoddy.

Old style energy-saving CFL lamps that warm up — like oil lamps from the 1900s — are used in the room. This place is too cheap to even update to instant-on CFL lamps. The Honors lounge was freezing cold for three days in a row. There are no snacks in it after 9pm but it doesn’t close until 10:30pm. The breakfast in the lounge is poor quality.

I might be traveling to Paris often. I will never, ever stay here again. What a complete rip-off.

Ouch.

In the scanty plus column for France, I can report that Air France has refunded me $285 for the two unused legs of my recent trip, (unused due to their cabin crew strike) out of a total ticket price of ten times that.

I can recommend two three-star hotels within a few blocks of the Hilton at a quarter the price. They might not be as fancy, but the value for the money is much greater, and you are the master of your own room's temperature destiny. Hotel La Bourdonnais and Hotel Relais Bosquet are both convenient to a wonderful little corner bakery (Rue Bosquet at Rue Champs de Mars) and an excellent country-style restaurant, Au Petit Sud-Ouest, where every table has its own toaster and the menu is chock full of canard and the cellar full of Bordeaux. With neighbors like those, I don't see much need for a lounge. WiFi is free at Bosquet and for fee via Swisscomm at Bourdonnais. Additionally, some of the rooms at the Bosquet have a partial view of the Eiffel Tower.

I guess we will always have Paris, for good or for ill.

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