Bad Hotel Choice in Paris June 2012

We just completed an amazing 3 week trip through Portugal, Spain and France. We stayed in many accomodations recommended in Rick's books and were very happy! However, the Grand Hotel Leveque on Rue Cler was not a good experience and I would like to warn future travelers to Paris. The hotel charges you in full for your stay upon arriving, even before being allowed to see your room. The rooms and public spaces are misrepresented in the hotel's web site. The pictures look quaint and full of color. When in fact the room we were given was void of any decorating, color and quaintness; not even 1 picture on a wall. In an extremely tiny room, this is very depressing. It was nothing short of a jail cell feel looking out onto a wall. The hallways were dimly lit and as depressing as the room. And mind you, our room was referred to as "superior" and were charged 155euros a night. When we immediately told the front desk we could not stay in that room due to it's adverse affect on my husband's health (a brain injury that can be exacerbated by confined feeling spaces), we were told that there were no other rooms and that even if we canceled our stay immediately, which we did, they would still charge us in full for 4 nights. We were prepared to pay the 1 night penalty for a late cancellation as in the hotel's stated policy.
They also state on the web site that the rooms are equipped with WiFi, which they are not. We were told by what we deemed a reliable source that the owner of this hotel does not care about your complaints because she charges you up front and consistantly fills the hotel from referals by Rick Steve's books. We had to spend several hours looking for other accomodations and are now fighting the charges through our credit card company. Please consider other accomodations on Rue Cler, since it is a great location.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5619 posts

Laura, I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. I hope it didn't affect being able to enjoy Paris. I would suggest you put this information on the Graffiti Wall. I think more people will see it there.

Posted by laura
naples, fl, usa
5 posts

Thanks for the advise. I don't want other people to fall prey to this hotel. We ended up finding a 4 star hotel for not much more than this hotel charged and had a great experience in Paris!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8667 posts

Laura,, please write a hotel review on forum, its a busy forum so more people will see it, and I beleive you ,, that hotel has been getting by because of the RS recommendation as far as I am concerned,, and it seems the owner decides if she likes you to be pleasant , but otherwise is reported as cold and abrupt my many others.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
20992 posts

laura, Sorry to hear that you had an unpleasant experience with the Grand Hotel Leveque. I've stayed there a few times and never had any problems with the "simple decor", as I'm typically only in the room to sleep and shower. I agree with the others, it would be good to post a review on Trip Advisor as it covers a much larger group of travellers. Happy future travels! *EDIT - I notice that you've now posted on T.A. I was surprised to see that the review following yours has a glowing recommendation for the Hotel.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3072 posts

The Leveque is in such a great location, I can almost forgive some of its shortcomings. I've stayed in single rooms there a number of times. I like these rooms but the shared toilet and shower became a problem for me a couple of years ago. Other guests hogged the shower and both were often not very clean. I think the double rooms are ok and not a bad deal. There are no single ensuite rooms, so I've decided to stay elsewhere in Paris.

Posted by Cindy
Lancaster, PA, USA
1 posts

Hi Laura, We just stayed at the Grand Hotel Leveque a week ago and I agree. It is not that 'grand' & does leave a lot to be desired. My husband's opinion was that the location & price made up for its other shortcomings, but I found through other travellers that we met in the area, who were also using Rick Steve's as a guide, that he does recommend other, better hotels in the same Rue Cler area. I wish we would've booked one of those! I am definitely going to post on TripAdvisor like the other posters suggested. Hope you do too!

Posted by John
Blue Bell, PA, USA
52 posts

this is why I always use TripAdvisor and not something like RS because TripAdvisor is traveler based. How do I know what RS gets from all these hotels he recommends? Funny that whenever a travel agent or travel guide recommends something (hotels, restaurants) often they suck. For restaurants I just look for crowds and glance at the menu and have good luck that way.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3072 posts

Some hotels remain on Rick's recommended list even after they deteriorate and start getting bad reviews. I don't stay at the Leveque any more, either. They redecorated the breakfast room from a comfortable, charming place into a hard-surfaced unwelcoming place. And they got rid of the one meeting place on the ground floor in order to make space for luggage storage. I used to like the desk personnel, especially Christophe, but sounds like they got some hard-nosed business person to run the place. The one thing the Leveque has going for it is location. The Castex is another example of a hotel that re-decorated itself right out of any consideration by me.

Posted by Robyn
Greenbank, Wa, USA
12 posts

We just got back from a terrific Paris vacation- we had read the reviews for the Leveque before we went and were a bit nervous- we had booked way in advance and hoped for the best- turns out the hotel was fine- very modest- but clean and Great location- we had room # 44- the walls are thin, but over all was a good deal- its not fancy at all and Does have an elevator- which our next hotel did not- over all I wud recomd this location- just dont have too high of expectation-

Posted by Susan
Atlanta, Ga, USA
1532 posts

I would not ever consider booking a hotel and not having a high expectation-especially at 155 euros per night-and a shared bathroom-yuk!

Posted by Denise
Lake Forest, CA, USA
1463 posts

You mentioned that you found a great hotel for the same price. Where did you end up staying? Sorry for the unpleasant experience.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8667 posts

There are many great hotels in similar or even less price range, I am so glad I don't feel compelled to follow all of RS suggestions as some of them just aren't that great.. I had a great room, air condtioned, mini fridge and safe, clean, modern bathroom, excellant central location, and nice staff, all for 98 euros a night. And better located then Rue Cler in my opinion.
|Hotel Diana.

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
499 posts

I've stayed on 4 different occassions, and was satisfied. Maybe I've become complacent, but I like a predictable hotel. Yes, some of the 99 euro rooms are tiny, the bathroom tiny; but I seem to have a funny story associated with each room. I've grown to love the quirky elevator; it's a challenge to see how much I can get into it. The breakfast offering should be discontinued. But the hotel is close to the metro, Eiffel Tour, and I feel that for a first timer in Paris, it's a nice introduction to this fabulous city.

Posted by Debi
Sherman Oaks, CA, USA
258 posts

Sometimes even when someone like Rick Steves makes a recommendation, a hotel, restaurant, it can go down hill!! I have a lot of respect for Rick for so many reasons, however, I make my own decisions with a lot of research. What one person likes may not be what I like. I just rented an apartment that was just remodeled. It was a small 1 bedroom in the Marais for 750 euros a week. You get quite a bit more space and have the option to cook a few meals. The location was fabulous! I actually went to look at the Rue Cler area this last month to see what it was about. It is too far away from most sites that I wanted to visit. I know the metroor bus can get you to and from places quickly, but I like to do a lot of walking. It is a nice area but not any nicer than other areas in Paris.
Sorry to hear about your bad experience, hope you still enjoyed my favorite city in the world! Happy Travels!!

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

155 for a "superior" room isn't a good deal IMO. I have yet to stay at a hotel in paris I'd rave about, but I've always paid far far less than that for a more pleasant experience.

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
487 posts

Laura, I'm sorry your experience was not what you expected. For others that are looking to book hotels in Paris, explore your horizons. Like some have suggested here, do research other guidebooks and websites for accommodations. I have used some of RS suggestions in the past, but usually I get at least one or two other sites/books to suggest the same place and compare. For Paris, I stayed in a lovely hotel in the 14th arrondisement, Montparnasse. It might be a bit out of the way for "the sights" but I found it to be a wonderful Parisien neighborhood and it has a major transit hub for getting around. My stay at the Hotel Delambre was very pleasant. The room was fine for a single - tight but the bathroom was larger than some I have experienced elsewhere. Again, I am sorry you had to spend so much of your valuable time looking for other accommodations and that you were treated so shabbily. Linda

Posted by James
Ocala, Florida
23 posts

So sorry to hear about your bad experience. We just stayed at Hotel Beaugency December 10th through the 12th. They were very accommodating and gave us a Rick Steves discount. We even ran into a couple of Steves fans while checking out. Its one street off of rue cler and we had no complaints.

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
499 posts

As stated earlier,have had 4previous good accommodations and just booked 2 rooms for the Tour de France finale in July/2013. I'll try to report back and get the opinion of the couple that is accompanying us.

Posted by Dawn
St Paul, MN, USA
122 posts

We've stayed at this hotel and another in the Rue Cler neighborhood, both recommended by Rick Steves. I have to say it is pretty rare we don't like a hotel Rick has listed in his bookthis hotel was the one and only exception we've ever had over many travels. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Our room was touted as being remodeled with carpet that I wouldn't lay in my garage. The rules were outrageous, the staff unfriendly and the common places unaccommodating. Good for you putting this on Trip Advisor. Rick needs to remove this hotel from his book regardless of the fact he has a long standing relationship with them.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8667 posts

Dawn, your review echos many I see on other forum ( not just ta or this one) sites, there is a bit of "rick must be right" at all times attitude sometimes on this forum which i think can slant peoples views,, and some of their views or perceptions are limited because they have only ever stayed in Ricks recommended areas or hotels and really haven't tried other areas or places not listed.. its a shame for them. Ricks picks are often not as cheap as they could be compared to others of same type and there are hundreds of similar types hotels in Paris, small, privately run , charactery and great areas etc.. but people get Rick nicked,, and while his picks were likely all good at one point, I do think some of them rest on their laurels after getting a listing in his books, they start to be booked heavily and don't care about the customers as much after, you are after all easily replaced..

Posted by laura
naples, fl, usa
5 posts

Reply to Pat:
You are so correct. The night clerk at the Grand "Hostel" Leveque told us outright that the owner does not care about her customers because the hotel is consistently booked with Rick's readers. Rick should do follow-ups with his hotel recommendations, because this hotel clearly is resting on Rick's books to keep them filled with guests. I would encourage anyone who had a bad experience with this hotel or other Rick's recommendations to email him directly and ask him to reconsider his recommendation for future book editions. The hotel is still in his 2013 edition; however if you read between the lines, he does not speak highly of them. I ask, why are they still listed then????

Posted by gone
2081 posts

hi, this is jmo, but as with anyone or anything. you have to be your own advocate. Do your own homework and research. RS books are great in that he give you ideas on where to go/see/do/eat/sleep. It a great reference but its not GOSPEL!. Also, his books take time to print and as you should know the world isnt static, its DYNAMIC and things change, even w/in a year. as i said, i use it as a reference, BUT i do my own research too. I will use TA on some hotel reviews, but also use google to try and find answers. I will also check travel days/times and availability of buses/trains ect. In the end i do use alot that RS offers. but again, i still use my own judgment and research. On my travels last year i found that somethings in RS book werent available anymore. IE some Internet Cafes, Laundrymats and most of all, the Grand Arche was closed to the public. in the end its up to you too, but be your own advocate! happy trails.

Posted by Robin Z
Troy, Oh, USA
1676 posts

I've stayed at the Leveque a couple of times, found it nice at a great location. Of course, I don't expect anything fancy as long as it's clean.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8667 posts

Good post Ray and good points,, wish more people understood it that way,, don't follow blindly, use information available as a guide ,, but do your own homework.. things do change, and your tastes may not be exactly the same as someone elses.

Posted by Robert
Happy Valley, PA
248 posts

Sorry to hear that things haven't changed with this DUMP. We stayed there back in 1993. We chose this hotel because Rick had featured it in his first public TV series (1991 "Travels in Europe" - yeah, we've been fans for quite a while). I think at that time, the Grand Hotel Leveque was a 2-star hotel. Hey, we were on a budget, the price was right and, after all, Rick loved the place - so why not book it?). Oh yeah, there was no internet back then, at least for the masses, so we didn't have the luxury of researching it on Trip Advisor and the like. Well, to paraphrase Animal House's Bluto "We screwed up, we trusted Rick". The first thing we noticed when we entered our room were the stains on the carpet, the wall, and I think also on the ceiling. We didn't want to guess how the latter got there. Fortunately, the bed was not similarly defaced and the other saving grace was that the very tiny bathroom, which was recently installed (retrofitted), was very clean...or we would have immediately left and found another hotel. The other major negative aspect of the small room was that it faced Rue Cler. Do you know when all of those stores open for deliveries? About 4:30 a.m.! I think we heard every truck that passed by (yes, vehicles were allowed to make deliveries on this pedestrian street). It was summer, there was no A/C, so we had to open the window or we would have melted. Well, we learned some very valuable lessons from that experience and, until 2 decades later, when information now freely abounds on the internet (so we could more thoroughly research lodging), we never stayed in another Rick Steves recommended hotel. We can laugh about this now, but it wasn't funny then. To this day, my wife still reminds me about it. Thanks Rick!

Posted by laura
naples, fl, usa
5 posts

Wow! I can relate! Years ago, my husband and I fell in love with Rick's travel shows. So naturally, when we planned travel to Europe and were trying to stay on a budget, we used all of his recommendations. I have many similar experiences as the one you just wrote about with this hotel and it's arrogant owners. I look back, and see that if we just added a few hundred dollars to our travel budget, we may have booked hotels that actually allowed a good night's sleep! We blindly followed Rick's recommendations, believing that these hotels must be decent. But no, many were just plain cheap, with nothing else to offer that made them worth staying except maybe location. We would have gladly walked an extra mile for a better hotel at the same price! I still love Rick's shows, but use Trip Advisor for all recommendations. And spend more time researching each. Also, I've raised my hotel budget just a bit, but it makes a huge difference. Lesson learned.... do not follow any travel writer blindly. They may not be completely unbiased with their recommendations.

Posted by Annette
Bentonville, Arkansas, USA
10 posts

I've tried several Paris hotels, but keep returning to Hotel L'Esperance on Rue Pascal. It's on the left bank, south of the Mouffetard market, small rooms, small b'room, very clean, wonderfully happy and friendly staff, rooms under or around $100 as best I remember, with a handy laundromat down the street and a wonderful cafe close: Languedoc. There's my big travel tip for Paris.

Posted by Michelle
Lincoln, Nebraska, United States
6 posts

Im sorry you had such a bad hotel experience in Paris. My daughter and I were there in June and stayed in an apartment on Il St. Louise for the same price as a hotel room in Paris. The location was centrally located and the people at couldn't have been more helpful and nicer. We were within walking distance of most of Paris and had a kitchenette and washer in our apartment which saved us a lot of euros.