One of the most difficult things about planning our trip was finding information about reasonably priced hotels in London and Paris.
Trip Advisor and similar sites were a big help but we still wanted more info. So here are quickie reviews of the three hotels we experienced (and yes, I have a thing about smells).
The Columbia Hotel
95-99 Lancaster Gate
May, 2005 - 86 Pounds/157.40 Dollars per night.
The hotel is easy to find and very convenient to both Paddington and Lancaster Gate Underground stations. When we arrived we were thankful that they allowed us to check in early (around 9:00 or 10:00 a.m.). Our room was very small but clean. There was no air conditioning and the room was stuffy even for what was a relatively cool day (around 60 degrees Fahrenheit). This made us wonder what the room would be like on an even warmer day.
The bathroom was tiny but clean. Soap, but no shampoo. No wash cloths.
The problem with room #222 was that the vent from the kitchen was right outside the window. The smell was very strong. I was a little nauseous so it was really a problem. I went back down to the reception desk and told them our problem. Fortunately they were very understanding and had a different room available.
The second room was much better. A view onto the street and a very large, handicapped accessible bathroom. It was difficult to maintain the water temperature in the shower, but we never ran out of hot water.
Paint was peeling off the very high ceiling and everything from the furniture to the bedspreads was very, very old. The room smelled of lemon scented cleaner which did a good job of masking the lingering scent of a room that has seen many travelers year-after-year-after-year. Not exactly the Four Seasons but clean and nice to return to after running around the city all day long.
The free English breakfast was good. Eggs and bacon, cereal, toast, juices and tea. If you need to use the hotel's only iron and ironing board, be prepared to leave a 20 pound deposit.
We would return.
Hotel Londres St. Honore
13 Rue Saint-Roch
May 2005 - 90 Euros/115.33 Dollars per night.
The hotel is near Pyramides stations. Once you find Rue Saint-Roch it's not hard to find. We arrived early and there was no problem checking in. If you are on an upper floor, you really need to ride the elevator. It's the smallest I've seen. Room enough for two if you've had carnal knowledge of the person with whom you're riding. We were told that the hotel owners were not allowed to cut into any of the wood in this 500 year-old building so they squeezed an elevator in where they could.
Our room was small, clean, functional. The bathroom could be described the same way. They provided hand soap and packets of body wash/shampoo. No wash cloths. Plenty of hot water but when someone flushed a toilet you paid for it with a minor scalding. The blanket on the bed was issued during the second world war and it's age still didn't do much to reduce it's abrasiveness. The pillows were shaped like raviolis and about as dense.
There was a tiny fridge in the room with beverages. It didn't do much to keep things cold, but we put beverages in there anyway and they seemed to somewhat below room temperature.
There was no memorable smell to the room however it was hot. It was 93 degrees outside (in May) and not a lot of breeze was available from our open window. Fortunately they provided a fan which kept us fairly cool as we slept.
The hotel is close to a number of small markets, restaurants, Metro stations and shops. It's also close to a church. A church with a bell. A bell that rings with no discernable pattern. If you're awake and ready to go the peeling bell adds to the old world atmosphere. If you're trying to sleep. . .
If you stay here you will more than likely meet Eric. Someone described Eric to us as being able to carrying on three conversations in three different languages while drawing a map, backwards, from memory. He was very helpful and even gave us a lengthy, animated, semi-entertaining, semi-informative primer on the city of Paris and what to see and do. All of which ended in a sales pitch for a river cruise which we went ahead and bought from him.
Breakfast was good and consisted of a croissant and a hard roll with your choice of hot chocolate, coffee, tea, orange juice.
We would return.
195 Sussex Gardens
May 2005 - 80 Pounds/153.24 Dollars per night.
Chris and Maria are the owners and are very nice people. Maria checked us in early (around 10:30 a.m.) and we had a very nice conversation with her. Our room wasn't quite ready so Maria brought us some fresh towels and soap so we could freshen up.
In comparison to the other rooms we stayed in this room was large but it featured the smallest bathroom. In this particular bathroom if you're standing in front of the sink, your ass will touch the door when it's closed. If you drop your bar of soap, you will need to bend at the knees to retrieve it. They made soap and hand towels available along with the requisite bath towels.
Unlike our other rooms this one had an air conditioner which was very welcome.
The bed was comfortable. The refrigerator in the room came in very handy and provided ice cold water in the middle of the night. There was a computer with free Internet access available. This was extremely handy for getting updates on our kids and letting people know how our trip was going. Prior to this we relied on Internet cafes which wasn't a big deal, but it was still nice not to waste additional time and money.
Breakfast was cereal, a selection of cheese and cold cuts, coffee, tea, juice and they brought us a basket of toasted bread and croissants. You could buy an English Breakfast for three pounds if you wanted but the fare that was provided with the cost of you room was plenty.
These are old rooms and you will notice that old room smell, but it's not extreme in the least. Nothing like the aromas we encountered on the Metro.
We would return.
Hope this is helpful.
A few phrases for the crawlers: London hotel reviews. Paris hotel review. The Columbia Hotel London reviewed. The Hotel Londres St. Honore Paris reviewed. The Rhodes Hotel London reviewed.