Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 16: The Worst Of Times . . . in Paris

After navigating our luggage around the Vienna train station (that was under construction), taking the airport train (seriously ,if you are going to make an airport train why make it force the passengers to go up to the second floor of the train with their luggage), surviving a not-so-smooth flight to Paris and a death-defying taxi ride to the hotel with a "roll down the window and scream at people out of road rage” cab driver, Diana and I REALLY just wanted to settle in our hotel.

We had booked the Standard Design Hotel in the Bastille district months ago, so we were a pretty surprised when they told us that they were overbooked for the night. The man at the desk told us that he had a room for the remainder of our nights and that they found a hotel that was of the same quality for us to stay in for the one night.

We weren’t happy but it seemed like that would work out. So they got us a cab and we got to Hipotel Butte Chaumount. From the moment we walked in the hotel it was clear that it was not the same level as the Standard Design Hotel, which was a three star hotel. Hipotel was like a no star hotel, seriously.

Diana and I knew from the disgusting smell of the reception area that this was not a place we could imagine staying. When we saw the room we were sure of it. It was disgusting.

Diana called up the Standard Design Hotel, complained to them, and used some language that offended their French sensibilities. At the end of the conversation the manager apologized but they were unable to find another solution. We tried in vain for an hour to find another hotel but we couldn’t. So we resolved to just deal with it for the night.

We got the key to our room and as I opened the door there was a naked French lady sitting on the bed. After realizing that they gave us a different room then they had previously, we dropped our luggage off in the new room and went out to get dinner. Basically, in this place one key opens most of the rooms. So your belongings are super secure.

One of my friends Rob had suggested a restaurant for us, Le Petit Nicois, in a much nicer part of town in view of the Eiffel Tower. As we walked down the street towards the restaurant we spotted the 7 Eiffel Hotel, which was clearly a much better hotel in a great part of town.

We walked into this amazing looking lobby and found out that they had rooms open for the time we needed, not for that night but for the remainder of our stay. The price was more and we weren’t sure about the cancellation policy of the Standard Design Hotel, so we decided to deal with it in the morning.
The hallway outside our room at Hiptoel

Back at Hipotel we had one of hardest nights we’ve had as a couple. The bathroom was barely functional, the carpet was mysteriously wet, there was barely room to walk around the room and the parts of the bed were moist. There was also a disgusting stale smell that prevented us both from sleeping.  We laid clothes on the bed, made pillows out of our jackets (there was no way I was getting underneath that cover) and tried in vain to sleep.

The room was really warm so we opened the window to sounds of people throwing up, partying and riding scooters. Neither of us could sleep and by 2 a.m. we just gave up. We played "Up" on the DVD player and that distracted us enough to sleep until 6 a.m. when we promptly packed up and bolted out of the hotel.

As we gave the key back to the guy in the lobby who we woke up from his nap, Diana took some pictures of the lobby to prove how badly Standard Design Hotel had messed up. The man in the lobby freaked out and in his bad English insisted that Diana let him delete pictures off our camera. He threatened to call the police and after that night we had enough so we just left and grabbed a cab back to the Standard Design Hotel.

At the Standard Design Hotel, the manager wasn’t there and Diana had such a bad taste in her mouth about this place that she wanted to stay somewhere else. (Standard Design Hotel was also more than 40 minutes away from any of the attractions by train.) We called 7 Eiffel and they still had a rooms for us, so we decided to ditch Standard Design Hotel. We called our travel agent and they agreed that they had messed up by not having a room for us and that they would get our money back.

We checked into 7 Eiffel, and after running around Paris in our lack-of-sleep daze, seeing the Musée d'Armée, the Eiffel Tower, and having an AMAZING croissant, our room was ready at 7 Eiffel and it was the greatest room ever.

A couple words of advice: Hotels taking reservations and then sending you to another place after taking your money happens in Europe. It’s important to be careful and double-check your reservations. Having a travel agent helps with cancellation fees and finding hotels in a pinch. (Although, to be honest, our travel agent couldn't get us out of this bind.)

Thanks go out to our friend Renée who helped us out with this situation, our travel agent, Rob for the restaurant recommendation that helped us find our new hotel and our moms. Yeah, we totally both called our moms when we ended up as the Hipotel asking for advice and they were both really helpful.

Throughout this entire situations Diana and I didn’t get into a fight. When Diana freaked out over the phone, I was calm and when I was freaking out during dinner, Diana was able to make me laugh. I think I would have cried if I was alone in Hipotel and having Diana there to get through that miserable night really did give me strength.

Our first 12 hours in Paris were the worst of times, but after that it’s been one great experience after another. Every vacation has its issues and this was the hardest one we’ve ever dealt with, but we got through it and when I get back to the states I have some serious hotel reviewing to do online.

Never forget, all things must pass, both good and bad.

1 comment:

  1. holy crap! you should have slept on my floor after all !!!! i'm so sorry this happened, what a nightmare :(