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On a trip that paired a visit to the Paris Air Show with a leisurely weekend in the capital of fashion, TPG Contributor Sarah Silbert stayed at the Le Méridien Etoile in the 17th arrondissement. Read on to see if this conveniently located Starwood property is right for your next trip to the City of Lights. (All photos by Zach Honig.)
Last week, I had the pleasure of returning to one of my favorite destinations in Europe, having booked cheap business-class tickets on American several months earlier. Since my boyfriend, TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig, was attending the Paris Air Show, we stayed at the Le Méridien Etoile, located a 10-minute walk from the Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe and a short Uber ride from Le Bourget airport (where the Air Show takes place).
Le Méridien Etoile is a Starwood Category 5 property, going for 12,000-16,000 Starpoints a night. We took advantage of Starwood’s weekly “Hot Escapes” to book the hotel at a rate of €217 (about $243) per night, including tax. For a Starwood hotel in central Paris during the Air Show, that seemed like a pretty decent rate. Zach applied four of his Suite Night Awards to the reservation, and a few days before check-in we were confirmed in a “senior suite” — one of the hotel’s highest room categories.
We’d originally planned to arrive really early in the morning after a red-eye flight from New York, and when Zach requested an early check-in using SPG’s Your24 Platinum benefit, his SPG Ambassador suggested that we book an extra night instead, as the hotel would likely be full and unable to accommodate the request. He planned to head right to the Air Show after showering on the morning of our arrival, so he booked a base room (which was upgraded to a deluxe room) for the night before our arrival in order to guarantee an early check-in.
I’ve never had a bad stay at a Le Méridien hotel — and I loved the brand’s Siem Reap location — but it’s only fitting to want somewhat of a higher-end experience in this ultra-chic city. The Le Méridien Etoile isn’t luxurious, and I knew that going in; this was a work trip, after all! What I wasn’t expecting, though, was for the lobby to be jam-packed with tour groups and a mother with two unruly children on kiddy-leashes. Maybe the sleepless, eventful flight had me on edge, but I definitely wished for a calmer environment. That said, the check-in associate was very kind and helpful, and soon we were off to our deluxe room. (The suite wasn’t ready yet.)
The deluxe guest room offers a comfortable bed and little else — no frills or extras here. Our room was overlooking a busy street, but it was perfectly quiet and did the trick for an hours-long nap.
A few hours after we checked in, we received a call from the front desk, notifying us that our senior suite was ready. Soon after, we moved down to the second floor, which is reserved for SPG members. Thanks to our SPG Ambassador, a nice welcome spread with two eclairs, mixed nuts, two beers and a bottle of French red was waiting for us. Not quite as nice as the bottle of Champagne TPG routinely gets upon check-in at Starwood properties, but we’ll take it! Oddly, the above gift made its way onto our bill [for more than €80 ($90) — always review your bill!], but a manager removed the charge and generously comped our mini-bar purchases (a couple sodas and candy bars) as an apology.
The room itself is spacious and airy, with a separate living room and bedroom. There are two full bathrooms — one with a tub — and ample seating space. There are even two mini-bars, one in each room. Both of us found the seating areas, including the sofa and the desk chair, to be very uncomfortable. Neither of us is anywhere near TPG’s height (6’7″), but for us, the desk chair had an awkward height that made us slump over to reach our laptops. Nitpicks, I know, but if you’re on a business stay, it’s nice to have a comfortable spot to get work done!
The larger bathroom is hardly roomy, but it’s not cramped, either. You’ll find Cinq Monde bath amenities lining the sink, and the shower sports the common European design, with an adjustable head.
The king bed was plenty comfortable. After hours spent walking through Paris, I had no trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Note that the bedroom can be separated from the living room via a double door; if you’re traveling with a small group, this could be handy.
In the living room, the sofa folds out into a second bed. I’ve never met a comfortable sofa bed, so no wonder this made for a sub-par seating arrangement.
We ordered room service for lunch on our first day in Paris, and it turned out to be pretty tasty. I had a vegetarian club sandwich with frites, which definitely hit the spot.
Zach had lamb chops — also a success.
Additionally, we dined at the on-site Ma Chère & Tendre steakhouse one night. The food was good, if not great, and service was very warm and friendly (SPG members get a 10% discount on food, but not drinks — you might be able to get 20% off by booking through this site). Also on-site is the Jazz Club Etoile, which offers live music and casual dining and seems to be well-reviewed.
We got a free full buffet breakfast each morning thanks to Zach’s Platinum status, but it was a bit of a madhouse every time he went. On one occasion, Zach was passed off from person to person before finally being led to a seat, and after that he found that many serving dishes were empty and not replaced. (Interestingly, when asking about our experience at checkout, a Le Méridien employee responded to this criticism by simply saying, “Yeah, it was busy.”) If you want a relaxing morning fuel-up, you might want to opt for room service, instead.
Finally, the Le Méridien Etoile also boasts a fitness center, with a small selection of machines that includes elliptical trainers and a treadmill.
The Le Méridien Etoile is definitely form over function; you won’t feel particularly pampered here, but the hotel offers a comfortable base for business travel or sightseeing near the Champs-Élysées and other city-center attractions. I was impressed by the friendly staff — everyone from room service to our check-in agent was warm and polite. If you’re looking for a romantic escape and dream of Eiffel Tower views and French decor, this isn’t the place. But with award nights starting at 12,000 Starpoints, this Le Méridien offers a solid value.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more on your Starwood stay, consider the Westin Paris – Vendôme (20,000 points per night), the W Paris – Opera (20,000 points per night) or the Prince de Galles (30,000 points per night). You can earn 25,000 bonus SPG points toward a stay after spending $3,000 within the first three months with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.
There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.