Like most people, I like to research places I’m going to visit, hotels I’m going to stay in and products I’m going to buy. There’s usually at least a few reviews for even the most obscure stuff. How much you’d trust those reviews are another thing altogether. I’ve come across plenty of really positive reviews that, if I had to wager a few pounds on, I’d guess were written by the seller.
Coming across terrible reviews is easy. But I expect to find terrible reviews. Even the best places will get things wrong from time to time, and people are so much quicker to leave a bad review than a good one. I’ve written more than one bad review myself before now. I’d like to think I can take the time to say something positive when things go right though.
So to the point of my review – the Residence de la Tour, the hotel in Paris that we called home for three nights a couple of weeks ago. The reviews I read were largely ok, and most of them actually summed up the place quite well. It is slightly old and worn. But it has character, and I like that. The rooms are smallish, but we weren’t cramped. The bed did ‘boast’ a slightly thinner mattress than I’m used to, but it was comfortable enough and no springs dug me in the back.
The shower unit provided hot water at the first time of asking, and like the rest of the room it was clean. There’s no iron or tea maker, but then again, there’s a cafe downstairs and rarely bother with pointless tasks such as ironing anyway. It’s not right in the very centre of Paris, but neither is it far away either. The metro is literally a five minute walk away, and a ten minute ride without changes to the Champs Elysée. The neighbourhood itself is lovely if unspectacular. Quiet, but with a great market nearby and some nice bars. Ristorante Italiano served up great food at reasonable (for Paris) prices. There’s a Carrefour supermarket nearby too.
There are two things that really made this hotel a great stay though. Firstly, the price. I paid up front through Laterooms and got the three nights for £130. There were grungy hostels with terrible ratings that would have charged us double that for a pair of dorm beds. We got seriously good value for money. There was free WiFi too. And it was both quick and reliable.
The second thing was the service. I knew straight away that we’d hit gold. We arrived at just before 9am, three hours before check in. We hoped we might be at least allowed to leave our bags somewhere. The cafe/breakfast room was crammed with visitors and the owner (I assume) was rushed off his feet. It didn’t look good. But he smiled, and then actually apologised for not having a room ready. He grabbed our bags and put them in a sideroom, and then promised to have our room ready in half an hour.
It was ready, and we were checked in. He didn’t speak much English, but enough for us to get by. We met his daughter the next day, who does speak English and was really helpful in recommending places to go. On the final day he allowed me to charge my spare phone battery behind the bar after we had checked out. These are all little touches that one could simply describe as ‘customer service’. But they’re little touches that I find are getting rarer by the day. And when you are granted them, you’re all too often met by both a frown and a bill. The final word? If you’re on a budget and looking for somewhere nice, friendly and peaceful, you need look no further.