My family had an unexpected additional night in Paris and stayed at the Renaissance Hotel Vendôme Paris for the very first, and last time.
Think Hostel But Extensively Overpriced, Never Going Back
I have written hundreds of hotel reviews (not just on this site) and I can’t recall ever including a preamble such as this. It’s a two-parter:
- I understand the market and value for money in Paris and how that differs from elsewhere not only in the world but within Europe. I lived in England for three years and travel the continent regularly, yes, rooms are small and Paris is expensive but this was a joke.
- Another site that I wrote for years ago had an editor that left me with one piece of key advice – don’t write to what you think your audience expects, write what the piece needs. So this is as brutally honest as I can be about this property.
Without further ado…
There are two redeeming qualities about this property and the first is its location. The neighborhood is the pricey and prestigious Place Vendôme area. Within a five-minute walk is the famed Ritz Paris, with first-rate dining and shops like Cartier, and Louis Vuitton. It’s a short walk to the Louvre, Champs Elysses, Opera, and the US Embassy.
This particular hotel is located on a side street that can be difficult to get to. Both during our afternoon arrival and the following early morning departure the street was impassable due to construction, recycling trucks, or whatever else. It’s also hard to find for some drivers.
Phone: +33 1 40 20 20 00
Address: 4 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris, France
From check-in, seated at reception, the property gives an impression deserving every bit of the five stars adorned on a placard outside the entrance. Bell staff were courteous and helpful, organizing our voluminous luggage while we waited in an anteroom. We sipped on tepid cardboard bottles of water, provided by hotel staff
With just one afternoon, evening, and morning left in Paris, we were getting restless after waiting about 20 minutes for a seat to check in and I finally walked back to our luggage with the message to the porter that we could just be checked in later but we needed to go.
All of a sudden a table opened up and we were invited to sit for check-in at about 1:30 PM. We knew we had arrived early for check-in and didn’t expect them to have a room ready or even want to necessarily check-in; just to drop our things off and go.
The check-in process was as expected with well-appointed, multi-lingual staff, dressed sharply that offered us a selection of drinks including champagne. It took about 10 minutes to get set up, though as the room was not yet ready, we ultimately did what we came to do which was drop off the luggage and be on our way. We wasted 30 minutes of our shortly remaining 16 hours for something that I tried to explain to the bell staff when we arrived that we didn’t need.
They promised they would call me when the room was ready and I left my phone number. They never called but we returned around 5 PM, then still had to go through a further check-in process for room keys.
So convenient, so luxurious.
A rarity for Paris, though more common in the Vendôme area, the hotel features a pool/spa area. We had no time for this and I didn’t even bother to collect photos, but you shouldn’t stay there anyway so what’s the difference?
The lobby and entrance have the hallmarks of an incredible luxury property. The hotel pumps in their signature scent, reminiscent of Le Labo LM 01, are adorned with design-forward fixtures and held to a high standard.
There is a lift in the property but some floors still have stairs within the hallways. If mobility is a concern, this could be a problem.
There is allegedly an on-site restaurant but it’s closed for the moment. I’m not sure if this is a planned renovation or still being blamed on COVID, but regardless, the hotel offers no on-site food as of December 1st, 2022. A breakfast voucher is provided for a nearby restaurant but they don’t open until 7 AM and we were on our way to the airport by then. They offered some croissants and juice in the lobby.
Small rooms are the custom in Paris but this one was especially small for the property. The design felt like my freshman year in college with thin composite wood cabinets and closet doors flush against the walls. The desk in the corner of the room was a simple writing desk, painted in gray.
My wife called it “IKEA-chic” and I think that fits as well. The glass bedside lamps were the best design elements in the room, but even the framed picture above the bed felt like something I could find for $15.99 in a brushed silver frame. For what they charge, this felt like they were mocking us, mocking their guests, applying a principle that people will pay whatever you tell them to for a well-located hotel in the city of lights.
Walking into the room, your knees are greeted within three steps by the end of the bed frame. There is enough room to open the doors of the wardrobe and the fridge but no space between.
There was a Nespresso machine with two cups of coffee stocked (I’m not going to count decaffeinated coffee), and a pair of terry-cloth robes. With effort, there was enough room to unpack a single adult for about four days in the entire room. We couldn’t have stayed there as a family for more than a weekend if we wanted to.
The staff placed a rollaway bed against the wall and desk which was welcome (though not requested) and this consumed the only remaining free space in the room. It also blocked the Juliet balcony opening though we were able to move it to see outside.
The TV was a decent size (about 42”, I’d guess) and as this is France, nearly all stations were in French though for what it’s worth other hotels we’ve stayed in the city offer an international selection including English (along with German, Mandarin, etc.)
The most spacious aspect of the room was in the bathroom, though sadly, not enough room for a bed in there. If you were wondering what it would be like to pay extortionate rates for an aiport Sheraton bathroom, allow me to take you on a tour. The only thing missing from this bathroom was a tape deck. Here’s a wide angle shot so everything is in the image, and then standard angles following.
One added benefit of this dated design is the excellent placement of the toilet paper roll. Can you see it in the photo above? No? Let me show you:
That’s handy. Who doesn’t want to reach down and backward while seated on the toilet for the toilet paper roll that falls off the side if you dare move your elbow? I love chasing it underneath the vanity for kicks.
Just when you thought this hotel couldn’t earn its five stars, let me show you to the toiletries. Let’s just agree, for a moment, that while they are sometimes an excellent way to take a good hotel experience home with you, miniature bottles of toiletries are wasteful and bad for the environment. That said, large bottles shouldn’t have to be affixed to the wall in a premium, five-star property. Who is taking bottles this size? If they are, just charge them – you already have their card on file. Frankly, guests so overpaid for the room that it’s the least the hotel could offer in terms of value anyway.
Every great five star-hotel should offer a helpful and courteous concierge. The Renaissance Vendôme had one on staff, but the helpful part was lacking. We were short on time and wanted tickets to the Eiffel Tower for our daughter who wanted to see the view from the top. Why not employ the concierge staff to arrange this purchase on our behalf, right?
After a significant wait, I recieved a call from the “Navigator” who offered us €75 tickets to the top as part of a private group with “no wait” for the elevator. This was only a slight markup over what the Eiffel offers online or at the gate for the two adults and one child in our party. The concierge then clarified, “each.” Yes, the price was triple. I own a travel agency, I understand that like travel agents, concierge staff don’t charge for their services but receive a commission from the tour operator. However, paying triple was just a stupid waste of money and of course, I’d be happy to pay a service fee to make the transaction on our behalf.
I requested that she secure just the tickets and not the special tour, after all, the concierge’s job is to do just that (regardless of whatever add-on fee they might apply) but she refused. It was pay triple or good luck. This is a first for me anywhere in the world. I’ve stayed at more expensive hotels (in the same city) that took care of such tasks on our behalf with and without a service fee, but none have ever flat out refused to secure the tickets.
In case you were wondering if we made it to the top that night…
I have observed cash rates ranging from €455-680/night, during our stay the cost would have been €655 + taxes. We opted to use some of our Bonvoyed points instead at a rate of 88,000 + €110/night. It was worth neither. If one was to consider the value or Marriott Bonvoyed points are worth about 0.44¢/point it was a slightly advantageous redemption at $387 + $116 or $603 (USD at the time.) It doesn’t matter because the hotel couldn’t sort out my invoice before we left the property showing a cash rate we never agreed to and running my card for the amount.
For what it’s worth, the hotel sent out an automated survey and I answered candidly as I have been here about my stay and impression as well as outlining issues like my bill being unresolved. I got a boilerplate “we’re sorry you didn’t enjoy your stay” response but literally nothing else. This might have been the one area of the experience where the hotel’s product and management were fairly aligned: indifference.
Alternative In The Area
Matthew and I have both enjoyed the Park Hyatt Vendôme, but the Westin also looked nice. On my next visit I’ll try Hotel Du Louvre if I am staying in the same part of town or the Canopy by Hilton Trocadero, covered in an upcoming review.
What do you think? What’s your preferred property in Paris?