Hotels vs. Airbnb for visitors to Paris
There is no denying that Paris has incredible hotels – over 2,000 of them – and they cover all the bases: romantic, historic, elegant, luxurious, lavish. But a nice Parisian hotel in a good location can get expensive. And location matters: if you’re not staying in the heart of the city, you could spend half your visit taking the metro and buses.
Instead of paying a pile of euros for a hotel room, consider renting a private room to a Parisian resident through Airbnb, the online service launched in 2008.
Connect to Airbnb.com to view over 300 listings for Paris, searching by type of accommodation (shared, private room, or entire accommodation), location and price (conveniently shown in US dollars). You can view photos and read descriptions and user reviews. After creating a profile, you book through the site and wait for the host to confirm your reservation. Your payment goes to Airbnb (via credit card or PayPal) and is forwarded to the owner (minus the service charge) 24 hours after you check in.
Most of the time, an Airbnb rental costs a lot less than a hotel room. However, it does mean that you are staying in someone else’s apartment or house. Whether the owner is at home or you take full control, there are pros and cons to choosing an Airbnb over a hotel.
The following examples compare rooms in three Parisian hotels with Airbnb rentals in the same neighborhoods. We envisioned a three night weekend in a private room for two from May 15-18, 2015. (These properties book early; our dates may no longer be available.)
[Prices are current as of June 2020 at an exchange rate of one euro to US $1.13.]
On the Seine
HOTEL: Notre Dame Saint Michel Hotel A glamorous hotel in the Latin Quarter, housed in a 400-year-old building on the banks of the Seine near Notre-Dame Cathedral. The 26 rooms were recently redone by designer Christian Lacroix.
What you will pay: $ 290 per night for a view of the river.
AIRBNB: “Péniche / Péniche Tour Eiffel” In this case, we really mean “to the Seine. “The room is in a century-old barge moored a few minutes from the Eiffel Tower. It’s cramped but romantic; guests have a private entrance, terrace and bathroom.
What you will pay: $ 124 per night, plus a $ 44 service charge for a three night minimum stay.
IN THE MARAIS
HOTEL: Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais An intimate 19-room hotel named in honor of the 18th century author of the “Marriage of Figaro”. Antique furniture, rich fabrics and floral wallpapers will give you the impression of entering the life of a French nobleman.
What you will pay: $ 215 for a courtyard view
AIRBNB: “Large room in the Marais” This spacious and sunny room has a breathtaking view of the Hôtel de Soubise, the historic house museum next door. A recent guest said: “I felt very welcome; Marie offered me a delicious lunch when I arrived.
What you will pay: $ 105 per night, plus $ 23 cleaning fee and $ 40 service charge
HOTEL: Hotel Baume Enjoy the chic art-deco design of this new hotel with 35 rooms. It’s an easy walk to the Louvre, and there are dozens of restaurants nearby.
What you will pay: Starting at $ 248, for a “classic double room with shower”
AIRBNB: “Trendy apartment in St-Germain-des-Prés” A recently renovated studio, with exposed beams, Parisian-chic style and a modern kitchen. It is only two blocks from the Luxembourg Gardens with a welcoming host who speaks English and French.
What you will pay: $ 126 per night, plus a $ 45 cleaning fee and $ 50 service charge
Hotels vs. Airbnb: advantages and disadvantages
Saving money isn’t the only reason to consider Airbnb. Here are some other points to keep in mind.
Space: Most hotel rooms in Paris are small, so you don’t give up that much by choosing Airbnb. In fact, you could end up with more room than in a hotel, at a lower rate.
Personal contact: Airbnb offers the chance to meet a real Parisian. But even if your host isn’t a local, they’ll probably be happy to direct you to the nearest metro station and recommend favorite museums, bars, and restaurants.
Less flexibility: Many Parisian Airbnb hosts require a minimum stay of two or three nights. Check-in times can be awkward for late arrivals, unlike a typical hotel, but this can be negotiated with your host.
Less – or more – amenities: Business travelers tend to prefer a quick check-in and may need a business center, hotel bar, or restaurant. But Airbnb renters are often invited to use the kitchen, which can be stocked with coffee and croissants for breakfast. And the Wi-Fi is generally free. However, be sure to check the details: for example, our houseboat listing says, “Please note towels are NOT provided, so be sure to bring your own!” ”
Is trust a problem? According to Airbnb, “customers and hosts verify their credentials by logging into their social networks and scanning their official identifier.” Hosts and tenants build a reputation online because everyone can see how others rate them. And you can use the site’s messaging system to get more information, from hosts or other guests.
Airbnb activity: In Paris as in New York (see Hotels vs. Airbnb for visitors to New York), there are concerns that the Airbnb boom may reduce the number of low-cost residential properties available. Plus, locals complain that their buildings are being turned into hotels – and they lose their sense of community. Although tenants are required to use their apartments as their primary residence, these laws are difficult to enforce. The host of a Parisian ad happily admits: “Hello! Myself, with my friend Stefano, we manage apartments in Paris on behalf of other friends who do not live in this wonderful city.
THE LOWER LINE
If a stay in a Parisian hotel is not to be missed, Airbnb offers many temptations in prime locations at affordable prices. Travel for half an hour and you might find yourself checking airfares to begin your journey. (Read When is it cheaper to travel to Europe? Do you go to Vegas instead? See Hotels vs. Airbnb for visitors to Vegas.)