You know the story of Goldilocks and the three bears? How Goldilocks wandered into the bears’ home one day, tasting all their porridge and sleeping in their beds, and even though she tried all three sizes, there was one that was “just right” for her? Well I felt that way about the three hotels I stayed at in Paris.
Hotel de la Porte Doree, located in the 12th arrondissment of Paris, is a three-star hotel masquerading as a two-star hotel, with the warmth and charm of a B&B. And it was “just right” for me.When owners Christina (American) and Laurent (French) purchased the hotel ten years ago, it was in dire need of renovation. Which they have done, lovingly, over the past decade.
Believe me when I say, the love and thoughtfulness they’ve invested in this place shows. Everywhere you look, the decor is eye candy–a beautiful combination of warm colors, reclaimed antique furniture, and contemporary touches–and all the materials used are of good quality. It feels more like a home than a hotel with 42 rooms.
Since Christina and Laurent actually did live in the hotel for a couple of years, I guess that should come as no surprise. It’s that home-like quality that makes this a terrific hotel for a solo traveler. Nathalie, who works the day shift at the front desk, is very warm and friendly and speaks excellent English. (You’ll see her a lot as you come and go, because you have to leave your key at the front desk when you go out.)
Christina has a very positive energy and exudes enthusiasm about every little detail of the hotel. The Indian gentleman who attends to the breakfast room could not have been more pleasant (though I’m sorry I didn’t get his name). I’ve said it before: It’s the people and the service that make the hotel, and Porte Doree has a very warm and nurturing atmosphere. This is the sort of thing that puts a solo traveler at ease and makes her feel at home.
Here, you will want for nothing in your room. I had room #15 on the second floor, across from the (laughably tiny) elevator. My room was a double superior, and was very tastefully decorated and spacious, with a window that opened onto Avenue Daumesnil. Traffic noise can be heard from the avenue, and when the metro goes by, the building shakes a little bit, but neither bothered me for sleeping once I had my earplugs in. The bed was warm and comfortable. All the required amenities were there, including a hairdryer, flat panel TV, and in-room safe. The bathroom was quite nice, small by US standards (as most of them are in Europe), but clean and in good condition.
While I did not stay in a single room (I believe they were all occupied), Christina took me on a tour to see all of the different styles of rooms, and I would have been very comfortable in a single. You know how sometimes, hotels have single rooms but they’re clearly inferior–almost as if they were an afterthought (which they probably were)? That’s not the case here. They’re smaller in size, but are just as cute as larger rooms. What I loved about all the rooms at Porte Doree is that, like a B&B, each one has its own unique decor and personality; these are not cookie-cutter hotel rooms. And they all have their own bathrooms.
The hotel’s breakfast room is as beautifully decorated as the rest of the hotel, and feels cozy and warm, which adds to the the B&B quality of the hotel. The breakfast buffet offerings were pretty much the same at all the hotels I stayed at: pastries, cereal, yogurt, fruit, meat, cheese, coffee and tea (and here, hot chocolate). Very straightforward. Most of the food here is fair trade and local. Breakfast costs 12 Euros, which is admittedly pricey; if you’d rather save some money and go straight to the source, there’s a boulangerie right across the street.
The other thing I really appreciated is that they are trying to implement “green” practices here–and not just because it’s the “in” thing to do, but because they really care about these things. From what I understand, it is not easy to recycle in Paris, yet they do. The staff sorts out recycling from trash that comes from the wastebaskets in the rooms, and there’s even a bowl on the front desk where guests can drop in their used batteries for recycling. They use environmentally-friendly cleaning products and have low-flow faucets and shower heads (don’t worry, the water pressure is just fine). To cut down on toiletry waste, they have cute little pump dispensers in the showers, and to save on electricity, they have motion-activated lights in the hallways. I’ve never seen that before in a hotel, and I thought it was a great idea. You can read more about their ecological practices here.
Hotel de la Porte Doree is located in a very safe locals neighborhood outside the main tourist areas of the city. (At night, I always saw parents walking with their children.) The location may be the biggest negative for some travelers–that it’s not within walking distance of Paris’s main tourist attractions. Luckily, the metro station is literally on the same block, about 50 feet from the front door. It’s about a 20 minute ride (including station changes) to most of the sites in the city center. Located near the hotel are a Monoprix grocery store, an ATM, a Quick restaurant (the French version of McDonalds), and other cafes and brasseries nearby. If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to live among the locals when you travel, then this is the place for you. The neighborhood has a lot more to offer–movie theaters, an aquarium, a park with a lake–but I was focused on museums in the city center and Chateau Versailles on the days I stayed here, so I didn’t have time to thoroughly explore the neighborhood.
In summary, this was my favorite hotel of the three I stayed at. It just felt so comfortable to me as a solo female traveler, and it was so beautiful, I never wanted to leave. If and when I return to Paris, this will be my first choice hotel. Next time, I’d take some time to explore the 12th arrondissement, though. I have a feeling I missed a lot of cool things there.
What else should you know about the hotel?
- Rates for a single room range from 49 Euros to 95 Euros a night. Best rates are available by booking online.
- This is a nonsmoking hotel.
- They have a book exchange program here. There are bookshelves in one stairwell filled with books that travelers can borrow to read.
- They’ve taken steps to make the hotel very hygienic, such as ripping up the old carpets (the floors are all wood). The beds all have duvets with slipcovers that can be frequently washed.
- There is free wifi available in all rooms and there is a computer room on the second floor, in case you didn’t bring your own.
- The owners are in the process of filling out the paperwork to get the hotel upgraded to a three-star. In practice, it already is one.
Disclaimer: My stay at the Hotel de la Porte Doree was complimentary, but my opinions are my own.