The Hotel Concorde LaFayette is a business class hotel with some tourist class floors. The top ten floors are called the Club Lafayette and are usually awarded four stars. This part of the hotel has better amenities, such as free use of the adjacent fitness club. The remaining twenty floors have standard rooms without such amenities. Some of these standard rooms have been renovated, but some are now showing their age.
The Concorde hotel chain itself ranks the Club LaFayette rooms in the middle tier and the LaFayette standard rooms in the lower tier of their offerings. Their top tier is the Hotel Crillon, which few hotels in the world could match.
When I evaluate a hotel, I consider five factors: price, location, rooms, services, and access to transportation.
This will be a lengthy review, but after you have read each of the five sections you will be able to form your own opinion about this based on which of these factors is most important to you.
Let me begin by saying that I stayed in the Hotel Concorde LaFayette for five nights in January 2009. I bought this hotel at a discount by blind bidding on priceline.com. This was the cheapest priceline “four star” hotel in Paris at the time (I added zones with each re-bid until my final bid essentially included all Paris). I paid $127 US per night for a double room, including all fees and taxes, but not including breakfast. I consider this a good value for a clean and safe tourist class hotel in Paris, even in the winter season.
During my stay I met a couple who had booked the same hotel and same standard room for the same price on Travelocity.com. However their room included the large buffet breakfast, for which the hotel charges 27 euros. For a double that is a savings of 54 euros ($75 US) per day. Next time I will search other discount websites more thoroughly before bidding on pricelinecom.
LOCATION The Hotel Concorde LaFayette is a large (950 room) highrise hotel adjacent to the convention center (Palais des Congres) located at the northwest edge of Paris (Porte Maillot) on the ring road (the Peripherique). On the metro this is two stops beyond the end of the Champs Elysees (Etoile station), and is as far out as you can go and still be inside the central transport zones 1&2 (more about transport later).
Because of its location, this hotel seemed to cater to conventioneers, flight crews, and bus tour groups. This neighborhood contains many modern apartment buildings, but for shopping I relied on the large mall in the basement level of the adjacent convention center. It mainly has upscale clothing stores, but also has a gourmet grocery store and a bakery/sandwich shop, where I purchased breakfast and lunch items at a fraction of restaurant prices.
PRICE The (maximum) rack rate posted in my room was 600 euros ($840 US) per night, but I doubt anyone pays that amount. Most standard rooms are probably purchased in bulk by tour companies and airlines. The price I paid is probably near the minimum, and its value depends in part on whether breakfast is included and whether one gets a renovated or older standard room. I do not know how much more a four star Club room would cost, and assume these are not generally available to internet discounters.
It was my impression that individuals who purchased through priceline.com are at the bottom of this hotel’s food chain. When I called in advance to confirm my reservation and request a renovated room, the hotel agent immediately knew I was a priceline.com customer and said quite honestly that it was unlikely that I would get a renovated room.
On my arrival, the receptionist again mentioned that I was a priceline.com client. I again requested a renovated room, and was told that there was one available on the 8th floor, but that I would probably not like it because on that floor the renovations were still going on.
When I then requested an upper floor room with a view, I was told that there was one available on the 24th floor, but that I would probably not like it because it was an all smoking floor (I had previously requested a non-smoking room).
Again, I felt like the bottom of the hotel’s food chain. I accepted the room that they had already set aside for me on the northwest corner of the non-smoking 12th floor.
ROOMS The standard rooms are comfortable. They are somewhat pie-shaped due to the curvature of the hotel façade. They are about the size of a good cruise ship cabin, with a large window wall including a window that opens.
The standard bathroom and the bedding are first rate. The bathroom is fully tiled, with granite counters and a bathtub-shower combo, which I used several times a day to warm up. My bath had abundant hot water, but another guest whom I met mentioned that their shower ran hot and cold, perhaps due to peak tour group usage. The maids kept my bathroom immaculately clean
The beds are extra firm, which I like, and had beautiful long duvets. European duvets are often too short to cover my feet, but these were perfect. The bed linen was spotless and top quality.
The standard room includes a flat screen TV with access to dozens of channels, several in English. It also has a mini-bar with breathtakingly high prices. A small bottle of water or a small soda was 7 euros ($10 US), a small bag of chips or M&Ms was also 7 euros, and a pack of gum was 5 euros ($7 US). There is a significant fee to remove these items for personal use of the refrigerator. I preferred not to touch a thing.
The remainder of my room was showing its age. The walls were somewhat scuffed by luggage, and the carpet had some stains. The room décor was somewhat retro (white formica with brass accents). I generally do not care about room decor since I sleep with my eyes closed. I do not know what improvements a renovated standard room offers.
The one and only major problem I had with my room was the lack of adequate heat. The Paris weather during my stay was around the freezing point (there was some snow and ice on sidewalks). I would have loved to come back to a warm and cozy hotel room at the end of each day, but unfortunately my room was too chilly for my comfort.
The room had a temperature knob (red and blue arrows, but no true thermostat) and a fan speed knob. When both were set on high, the room temperature still felt like the low 60’s F, even though I kept the window shades and draperies closed day and night to conserve heat. I took several hot showers and tubs each day to warm up, and otherwise stayed under the duvet.
SERVICES Since I was on vacation, I did not use any of the hotel business services. Laundry was expensive, as in most hotels. To wash a polo shirt cost 10 euros ($14 US) and a handkerchief 4 euros ($5.60 US). The bathroom exhaust was powerful, and hand washed items dried overnight if wrung in a towel.
Room service had a standard menu. At breakfast time the toast, tea, and fruit salad cost 9+7+10=26 euros ($36 US), which made the breakfast buffet a relative bargain. Hotels guests receive cards for a 15% discount at the hotel restaurant and 25% discount at the panorama bar. Again, I ate elsewhere and cannot comment on the hotel’s food quality.
The receptionists were friendly and switched to English soon after hearing my gender-bending French. Service otherwise was variable.
The “shavers only” socket in my bathroom was recessed so that I could not recharge my camera battery. The concierge on duty could not lend an adapter, but sold them for 10 euros ($14 US) each. When I asked about alternative outlets, he kindly volunteered to recharge the battery in his office.
When I left the hotel for the airport, I asked another concierge if he had flight delay information for de Gaulle airport (there were major snowstorms in the US the day before, which threw schedules off). He responded “Why, do you have a problem?” I did not inquire further.
ACCESS TO TRANSPORTATION As I mentioned, the peripheral location of the hotel Concorde LaFayette makes access from the airport easy, but adds travel time for sightseeing in the city center. Porte Maillot is on the RER system, but from CDG it requires a train change and many stops along the way.
The “Les Cars” bus shuttle service (route #2 to Etoile) of Air France is non-stop to the hotel, and worth the extra euros just to void the RER stairs and transfer (15 euros one way and 24 euros round trip for the Air France shuttle bus; 9 euros each way for the RER).
There are three useful bus lines from the hotel into the city center, but I usually avoided the buses due to the cold. Route 43 runs frequently and stops directly outside the hotel entrance. It passes the Salle Pleyel (which is a fine venue for classical music) then continues past the stores of Blvd Haussmann and ends at the Gare du Nord.
The remaining buses and metro (and RER) leave from the convention center side of the building, about a 200 meter walk from the hotel. Access is via the far south end of the basement mall, which is convenient in bad weather.
Bus #73 has a beautiful route down the Ave de la Grande Armee, then the Champs Elysees, terminating a block west of the Musee D’Orsay (which is also served from the hotel by the RER line C). Unfortunately this bus has a relatively infrequent 15 minute cycle.
Bus #82 has a convenient and scenic route which goes down Ave de Malakoff, then past the Musee Guimet, then the Eiffel tower, then Les Invalides, terminating in the Latin Quarter at the Luxembourg Gardens on the Blvd St. Michel.
The metro is fastest and most convenient for most sightseeing destinations, since line #1 goes from the hotel directly into the city center.
CONCLUSION There you have it. Like any hotel, the Hotel Concorde LaFayette has its good and its bad points. You now should have an idea how well it fits your needs. Bon voyage!
Directions: Next to convention center at Porte Maillot (NW edge of Paris)