Hotel L’Annexe: A Budget Paris Hotel for the Solo Traveler

by Gray Cargill on December 7, 2010

Hotel L'Annexe

Hotel L'Annexe

If you’re visiting Paris on a budget, and you’d like to practice your French, you might want to consider the 10th arrondissement on the right bank of the Seine, a locals neighborhood a bit off the beaten tourist path. The 10th is also home to Canal St. Martin, a picturesque canal with many bridges that makes for a lovely stroll on a sunny morning, and to Place de la Republique, an historic plaza with cafes and bistros and a very convenient metro station.

Rue Taylor

Rue Taylor

For the first two nights of my recent trip to Paris, I stayed at the two-star Hotel L’Annexe, located at 4 Rue Taylor in the 10th.  Rue Taylor is a narrow, cobblestone street, located through an archway off Rue Rene Boulanger, a few blocks from Place de la Republique.  L’Annexe is owned by the same people who own the Hotel Taylor (a three-star, boutique hotel) next door. The reception desk for both hotels is located at Hotel Taylor.

Breakfast Area

Breakfast Area

Walking in through the front door of L’Annexe, my first impression was that it was nicer than I expected (for a two-star hotel). The ground floor is very spacious, with nice wood floors and ample seating in the breakfast area.  Don’t be fooled by the roomy ground floor, though: This is still Europe, and most spaces in this hotel are small.

Tiny little elevator

Tiny little elevator

Case in point: The elevator is hilariously tiny.  I’m 5’5″ and weigh 120 lbs.  My suitcase was 25″ high and weighed about 30 lbs, and I had a backpack on my back at check-in.  I managed to squeeze everything including myself into the elevator but then couldn’t turn around or move at all.  Without luggage, it was fine.  But it’s definitely not for the claustrophobic. Upstairs, it was more of the same:  The hallway on the sixth floor was extremely narrow and my room was small–the double bed took up most of the room.  A single room might actually be better for the solo traveler, as the bed wouldn’t take up so much floor space. Still, it was cozy and just fine for me.

Bed

Bed

To some degree, my positive first impression of the public areas on the ground floor set me up for a bit of disappointment when I went upstairs.  It’s been awhile since I’ve stayed in a two-star hotel, and I’d forgotten how basic they are.   The hallway seemed a bit worn. The furniture is Ikea-like and slightly scuffed from use.  There might have been some dust collected in the corners of the room (but there is at my house too, so I am in no position to criticize).  Otherwise, everything was clean, which is the most important thing to me.  Well, that and the fact that I had a private room with a private bath, which beats staying in a hostel dorm any day.

Coffee Maker

See? Coffee Maker

Despite the very basic decor, the room had everything I needed and more.  The bed was far more comfortable than I would have expected, and the bedding was warm and fluffy, with a lovely bed scarf at the bottom (a nice touch for  a two-star).  I slept fine at night, for someone adjusting to a new time zone.  Tucked in the corner was an electric heater in case you feel your room isn’t warm enough.  I used it a couple of times, but never for very long.  The room warmed up quite nicely.

Open closet

Open closet

There was a small, flat panel TV on the wall and a coffee maker, neither of which I used.  There were plenty of mirrors, a phone, an end table/nightstand, a standalone “open closet” and three stools.  The three stools were a puzzle to me.  Did they expect me to throw a party in this little room?  But then I realized they worked perfectly as a luggage rack, so that’s how I used them. The standalone closet was a bit awkward, positioned as it was between the bed and the entryway, but I suppose it’s the gesture that counts.

Bathroom

Bathroom

The bathroom was the newest and perhaps nicest aspect of the room.  Yes, it was also very tiny, but it had obviously been recently remodeled and everything was new and modern, including a rain shower head as well as a hand-held shower wand. There was plenty of hot water and the towels were adequate.  There was no hairdryer, but I got one from the reception desk for a 20 Euro deposit (which they gave back to me when I returned the dryer).

I’m not entirely sure what the breakfast buffet cost, as mine was comped along with my hotel stay.  It was a decent continental breakfast with pastries, wrapped cakes, sandwich ham, cereal and milk, yogurts, etc.–plenty enough food to keep me going all morning.  I liked the coffee enough to have two cups each day.  Apparently, if you want to socialize with other travelers, you have to be downstairs for breakfast earlier in the morning.  I usually made it downstairs around nine am, and I had missed the breakfast rush. On the bright side, it meant I had my pick of tables.

While this hotel didn’t impress me greatly at first, I must say, it grew on me quickly.  By my second night there, I was happy to go back to my room at night and curl up in bed to write in my journal.  It felt very cozy, like coming home.  I could have happily stayed there all week, if I hadn’t had other hotels booked for later in the week. But then, my needs are simple:  A clean room, a comfortable bed, hot water, and a quiet space of my own in a decent neighborhood are pretty much all I need.

I’ve come to believe that one hotel is much like another at the same star level. What really makes one stand apart from the rest is the service provided.  I have to give much of the credit for my very positive feelings about L’Annexe to Magda, the young woman who works at the reception desk.  No matter what I needed, she came through for me.  She was unfailingly cheerful whenever I saw her, even though she worked very long days (she would be at the desk when I got up in the morning and would still be there when I headed to my room for bed at night–as well as any time I happened to pop in throughout the day). Magda speaks excellent English, as well as French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.  During those first two days in Paris, which were admittedly rough for me, having a friendly, smiling face at my host hotel was a godsend.

What else should you know about L’Annexe?

  • Most rooms cost between 53 to 89 Euros/night, with better deals available if you book online.
  • According to Magda, they’re in the process of renovating all the rooms (only one was done at the time I stayed there, and no, it was not mine). Despite this, it will remain a two-star hotel.
  • Safety: Rue Taylor gets sporadic foot traffic throughout the day.  The building L’Annexe is located in can only be accessed by keycode, meaning nobody is going to just wander in off the streets.  There is a staff member at the reception desk next door at Hotel Taylor 24 hours a day.  The neighborhood seemed perfectly safe to me.  I didn’t stay out very late at night, though, so I have no idea what it’s like after 9pm.
  • They have free wifi that works primarily on the ground floor.
  • Location: It’s an easy walk to the metro station at Place de la Republique, and there are others close by as well.  In the other direction, it’s an easy walk to Canal St. Martin.  The Pompidou Center is supposed to be within walking distance as well, but I never made it there. There’s a grocery store a block or so down the street that seems only to be open in the evenings. There are inexpensive ethnic restaurants nearby at Passage Brady, and plenty of cafes and brasseries near Place de la Republique and Canal St. Martin.

Would I stay at Hotel L’Annexe again on my own dime? You bet, especially if I was on a tight budget.

Disclaimer: My stay at Hotel L’Annexe was comped, but my opinions are my own.

Marble Cleaning January 7, 2011 at 9:34 am

Great read!A Budget Paris Hotel for the Solo Traveler

Cathy Sweeney December 13, 2010 at 11:37 pm

I probably wouldn’t have considered this place prior to reading your review. It actually sounds pretty good and of course, affordable. I think the neighborhood would be interesting, too. The only thing that would be a problem for me is that tiny elevator. I’ve been in some elevators in Europe that are quite small, but this one wins the prize. But as long as there’s a staircase, I’d be fine!

SoloFriendly December 14, 2010 at 12:21 am

No worries, Cathy, there are stairs. 🙂

GRRRL TRAVELER December 12, 2010 at 10:14 am

Finally, a room that makes me appreciate my NYC apt! I thot I’d seen the tiniest bath but that rain shower thing– I don’t think I could do much but stand and turn in it. Ha ha… Like your elevator experience! I’m sure it must’ve felt cosy and it seems like it was in a prime location. I can see Paris rooms being small but there’s good excuse… bc eh, it’s Paris!

SoloFriendly December 12, 2010 at 3:23 pm

LOL. It may have been small, but it was ALL mine. Space is definitely at a premium in Europe, no way around that.

GRRRL TRAVELER December 12, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Yeah, that’s how I felt about my NY apt too. Though it probably didn’t feel nearly as romantic as your Paris room. You got a good deal.

Theo December 8, 2010 at 10:47 pm

So great to see that your Paris Trip is happening. Great post, great pics and looking forward to more. It’s very valuable to get unvarnished reviews for a fellow solo traveler looking to go there in 2011. Thanks

SoloFriendly December 9, 2010 at 12:41 am

Thanks, Theo. Paris is definitely worth seeing, I hope you make it there.

lilmissdisney December 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I once stayed in a room in Costa Rica that I promise you was originally a closet they decided to shove a bed into. This hotel seems nice enough for me. I don’t really need much more than the basics.
I love the tiny elevator. So is the mirror suppose to make it appear larger :o).

SoloFriendly December 7, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Right? I figure anyone who is accustomed to international budget travel would like this place.

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