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What the Paris Hotel Star System Means (& Other Things to Know About Paris Hotels)

What the French Hotel Star Rating System Means

Hotels in Paris – and elsewhere in France – are graded on a star-system, and that might make you think you know what to expect from each star level. But the French star ratings are based on different criteria than the hotel rating systems in other countries. As this article on choosing a Paris hotel points out, the French hotel rating system is based on quantity – not quality. Because quality is, at least on some level, a subjective measurement, the French system has a checklist of items that they look at when rating hotels. A property achieves a certain number of stars based on how many of the criteria on that checklist are present.
As an example, a Paris blogger I know once booked a room at a French chateau that was high on the star rating system. Upon arrival, she found the reception and service so cold and unfriendly that she quickly made other accommodation arrangements. The 1-star attic-level hotel room she ended up in – overlooking a town square – turned out to be infinitely more charming, warm, and hospitable.
The maximum number of stars a hotel can receive in France is four, so looking for 5-star hotels in Paris will be a fruitless search. For most American visitors who are accustomed to mid-range hotels in the United States, looking at hotels in Paris that have at least three stars is probably a good idea. But if you’re on more of a budget, you don’t mind a smaller room, and you don’t need “extras” like WiFi or breakfast, then a 1- or 2-star may be sufficient. Just be sure to read about what each property offers.

Things to Know About Hotels in Paris

  • Do not assume you’ll get spaciousness in Paris hotel rooms unless you opt for a 4-star hotel. Hotels are often in older buildings where it’s not possible to gut them during a redesign, and in order to squeeze a small ensuite bathroom into each room the rooms themselves get even smaller. With 4-star hotels, however, the rooms are more likely to be large – and by “large,” I don’t mean palatial. I simply mean they’ll be more the size of a typical American hotel room.
  • Noise can be an issue in Paris. If you are sensitive to noise, ask for a room not facing the street. Your room may or may not have double glazed windows.
  • Air conditioning isn’t a standard hotel feature in Paris. Always ask if air conditioning is available.
  • Do not expect to find a king-size bed unless you are staying in a four-star hotel. Beds are normally either twins, double, or queen size as the largest (i.e 150-160 cm in width by 90 cm in length).

photo by garybembridge