Short of moving to the City of Light (le sigh), there’s no better way to experience life à la parisienne than living in an apartment for a week or more.
You can shop at the local farmers’ market, basket in hand, channelling your inner Julia Child; you can wake up and sit dreamily by the lacy-iron-trimmed window, sipping from a bowl of steaming creamy coffee, pretending you’re a born-and-bred Parisienne … And you actually have space to swing un chat — or at least have kids or friends in tow.
But perhaps you find the thought of renting a private apartment daunting. You’d feel safer with a 24-hour concierge, someone who can help you navigate the city and its language, and track down special-entry exhibition tickets or make dinner reservations at intimidatingly fancy restaurants … In this case, an apartment hotel — a.k.a an aparthotel, or serviced apartment — might well be your best accommodation bet.
Paris’s apartment hotels differ slightly in their offerings. Most provide 24-hour desk service and daily housekeeping. And some bundle in other services usually exclusive to traditional hotels, such as spas and a bar area (handy for when you want to stay in, yet still feel as though you’re ‘out’).
Make sure to compare your options carefully. Some rooms are more appartement than others; for example, the kitchen might be just a nook (although at least you’ll be able to steam yourself some broccoli when you need to balance out all of the pastries and cheese platters). Also, some rooms come complete with washing machines and clothes dryers, which is always a plus if you’re travelling en famille. Be aware, however, that if you’re booking an apartment for, say, four people, the living room might double up as the second bedroom, making things more cramped than the website images suggest.
Expect to pay between 200-400€ per night, depending on the days of the week and the season, as well as the size of the room, of course, and the number of guests. If that all sounds like it fits your bill, read on for a round-up of some of the best on offer …
Résidence du Lion d’Or Louvre
Run by the Hôtel du Lion d’Or opposite, the rooms in this former apartment building are impressively large (the family rooms are especially airy, with a second sleeping area on a mezzanine level). On the downside, there’s no lift, but the location more than makes up for any luggage-lugging hassle — you’re mere minutes away from the Tuileries, the Louvre, the Palais Royal, and Place Vendôme.
5 Rue de la Sourdière, 75001
If your inner Parisian is more of a Left Bank kind of soul, you can’t beat this Citadines (a chain that has twelve addresses in Paris) for setting: right on the river, by the Pont Neuf, with the fabulousness of Saint-Germain just behind you. The rooms are pretty rudimentary but the location more than makes up for this. And you never know, you might luck yourself into a room with a gorgeous view. There’s also a spacious lobby if you want to read, tap away at your keyboard, or sip some coffee.
53ter Quai des Grands Augustins, 75006
Residence & Spa Le Prince Régent
With its recently renovated rooms — cue minimal luxe — and sumptuous spa, this residence might tempt you to stay indoors. Don’t, because history is on your very doorstep. The eighteenth century building is situated on an elegant street of one-time townhouses (make sure to admire the doorway of number 4), and the fabled Polidor restaurant, with the same olde-worlde interior that Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce once admired, is just across the road. What’s more, the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg is just around the corner.
28 Rue Monsieur le Prince, 75006
Roi de Sicile – Rivoli
This high-polished four-star gem is brilliantly located in the Lower Marais, just around the corner from one of the city’s best coffee fixes (Le Peloton, 17 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe), one of its loveliest tea houses (Mariage Frères, 35 Rue du Bourg Tibourg) and one of its most loved bars (Au Petit Fer à Cheval, 30 Rue Vieille-du-Temple) — although it boasts its own bar too, a swanky basement lounge. There are numerous apartment categories, for various budgets (and some might be over in the 41 Rue du Roi de Sicile building), but all are deluxe in design, with many offering city views.
19 Rue de Rivoli, 75004
If your dream is to stay in a typically Haussmannian apartment, with white moulded walls and shiny floorboards, this one’s for you. Situated in the ninth arrondissement, this address allows you to make the most of the buzzy Grands Boulevards district: discover the charm of Paris’s old covered arcades, shop at Sézane, dine at Bouillon Chartier, and go for cocktails at the Hoxton hotel. And if you want to venture further, hit the department stores, or stroll uphill to Montmartre.
30 Rue Bergère, 75009
Fraser Suites Le Claridge Champs-Élysées
These apartments are pricier than the others (especially if you’re after a family room), but if you decide you want to splurge on a five-star stay, the Fraser Suites could be perfect for you — especially if you appreciate Paris history. In a former life, this was Le Claridge, a palatial hotel that hosted the likes of Edith Piaf, Ella Fitzgerald and Colette. Sadly, Le Claridge was gutted in the 1970s, and the glamorous ground floor rooms — including the bar in which Hemingway whiled away much time — were remade into a shopping mall. Still, you might end up in a suite that Marlene Dietrich and Jean Gabin chose for a romantic getaway, or at least a room overlooking the legendary Champs-Élysées, a newly revitalised shopping destination.
74 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008