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I recently visited Le Méridien Etoile to see how this newly renovated Starwood property stacked up. The Pros: it’s located near major attractions and has a chic interior design. The Cons: overpriced and mediocre room service, no coffee maker in the room and bathrooms that lacked privacy.
Paris is full of Starwood properties varying in price and luxury. There are several design hotels, like the Les Bains Luxury Collection, the W Paris and the Westin Paris, among others. Le Méridien Etoile is a reasonably priced hotel that’s just a short ride from most of the city’s major attractions. TPG’s Senior Points and Miles Editor Sarah Silbert reviewed this hotel back in 2015, but that was before the property went through a massive renovation, so I was looking forward to seeing what the new rooms and lobby looked like.
My spring stay coincided with the end of Fashion Week — hotel prices often skyrocket during this period — so I was pleased to find a decent rate. Le Méridien Etoile is a Starwood Category 5 property starting at about 12,000 Starpoints or 185 euros (~$196 at the time) per night at the pre-paid SPG member rate. I booked the cheapest room available, the Urban King, on my newly obtained Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, as I was not only hoping to get the bonus points (2x per dollar spent at eligible Starwood properties) for using the card at a Starwood property, but also working to reach my $3,000 minimum-spend requirement to get the 25,000 Starpoint bonus. In total, I earned just under 2,400 points for my three-night stay, which cost just under $600. Breaking it out, I got four points per dollar spent: that’s two points per dollar for being a SPG member and two more for using my SPG Amex. Had I been an SPG Gold or Platinum member, I would have gotten even more Starpoints. Hopefully I’ll reach that level by the end of the year.
The hotel was just a 15-minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées, as well as a few Metro stops from the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and other popular Paris attractions. Located off Metro line 1 at the Porte Maillot stop and across the street from the Palais des Congrès de Paris, it was also near a huge shopping center that had a grocery store and several cafés. While the location certainly wasn’t a bad one, I usually prefer to stay in a trendier area or at least closer to the 3rd or 4th arrondissement.
Check-In and Lobby
Le Méridien Etoile was a big, busy hotel that seemed oriented to business travelers, with 1,025 rooms, a fitness center and three restaurants: Ma Chère et Tendre, Jazz Club Etoile and Espace Latitude.
After an interesting public transportation experience from Orly Airport (ORY) — when there are strikes and protests in Paris, buses operate irregularly and things don’t always go as planned — I was relieved to enter the large and freshly renovated lobby.
While the outside of the property was gray and rather dreary, the inside was the complete opposite. With a sort-of American open-concept look, the lobby was huge and welcoming, leading into lots of seating, a coffee bar and, farther back, a bar and restaurant.
The reception was over to the left and I was welcomed with a big smile. I wasn’t expecting my room to be ready so early — it was 11:00am — but it was and I was allowed to check in immediately. Although my rate was pre-paid, I still had to put my credit card on file, and a hold was placed on it for the duration of my stay.
Once I got my room key, I headed upstairs. I appreciated the photography on display near the elevator banks on the fifth floor. I had to walk a little while to get to my room, so keep this in mind when you’re booking and ask for a room closer to the elevator bank if this might be an issue for you.
If you take a quick look at the pre-renovation rooms in the previous review of this hotel, you’ll notice they look fairly dated, so I was really pleased to see that my room was stylish and modern, decked out in gray with cool lighting. The set-up was comfortable and started off with a small hallway (the closet is on the left, the bathroom on the right) leading into the rest of the space.
The bed was typical of those of Starwood hotels, offering me a good night’s rest and crisp white linens.
To the right of the bed was a small nightstand and to the left was a desk with a supportive chair and lamp, making for a comfortable and well-lit workspace.
The room also had a small table with a chair (a nice spot for eating), an armchair, a flatscreen television and a full-length mirror.
One of the sliding closet doors was also a mirror, and there was plenty of storage space. One side was for hanging clothes while the other contained shelves. Had I stayed there longer, this shelving would have been very useful.
The closet also had hangers, a fancy iron (which heated up very quickly) and an ironing board.
There was also a large safe and a mini-fridge, but no mini-bar.
The inside of the fridge looked as if it had once been stocked, but it no longer had anything inside except a note stating that snacks and drinks were available in the vending machines in the hallway.
The lighting in the room was chic and really lit up the room well at night, which I loved. The lamp over the bed was trendy and cool, fitting in with the whole contemporary vibe of the room. There wasn’t much decor to speak of except for four framed photos of architectural details, but I thought this simple, minimalist touch was sleek and modern.
The window was large, basically floor-to-ceiling, though the view was pretty awful, overlooking trash bins and another building. But the room was relatively quiet, and, although I did hear some noise in the hallway, I didn’t hear any coming from the street below.
I later realized when wandering around the lobby that there was actually a courtyard, and I was disappointed my room wasn’t overlooking the trees instead.
There was one big flaw with though: no in-room coffee or tea machine! I absolutely love having this feature in hotels, especially during cold or rainy seasons when you come back to the hotel and a hot tea or coffee seems fitting. It was a hassle not to have this, as I found the coffee prices in the hotel to be rather absurd (8 euros, or about $9, for a to-go coffee at the lobby bar, and 2.50 euros, or about $3, for a crummy hallway-vending-machine coffee). I ended up going outside the hotel for coffee each day, but for me, this was a huge miss.
The bathroom was large and well-lit, with a bathtub and shower that had great water pressure.
There was a toilet but no bidet — which I thought was strange for a European hotel — and a large mirror over the sink. While some storage space was provided, the sink area itself wasn’t huge. A powerful blowdryer was in the bathroom drawer, which was great because sometimes hotel dryers, especially the ones mounted to the walls, are weak and it takes ages to dry your hair.
There was a sliding door to the bathroom — likely because there wasn’t any space for a regular door to open up into that small hallway — which didn’t provide as much privacy as a regular door would have. Also note that the tub ledge was extremely high, and to step into the tub or shower for someone small, like a child or someone with limited mobility, would have been difficult. The glass pane that doubled as a shower “curtain” wasn’t very long either, and every time I showered, I ended up getting water on the floor, which could be a death sentence for a clumsy person — luckily, I survived.
The amenities were my favorite part. Malin + Goetz shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bar soap and lotion were replenished daily and everything smelled delicious. Since I had just come from Madrid with no checked luggage, I didn’t have much space for liquids, so I was extremely happy to have these.
There were also two bathrobes in the bathroom, as well as two pairs of slippers, but they weren’t the plush kind of robes like other hotels offer and were a bit scratchy.
The hotel offered in-room spa services, and the Wi-Fi was free for SPG members who booked through the SPG website. However, as an SPG Amex cardholder, I also had access to “premium” internet. In theory, this should have given me faster speeds than the complimentary service you’re entitled to for booking directly through Starwood, but I didn’t notice a difference and found the internet to be a bit slow at times — plus, the speed varied wildly. For example, using Speedtest.net, I found the downloads to be 70.7 kilobytes per second one minute when only two minutes earlier, it had been 18.9 KB per second!
I didn’t purchase the breakfast because at 27 euros (~$32) per person per day, I found the price to be a bit excessive. I instead enjoyed a Parisian-style breakfast of coffee and a croissant at various cafés around the city.
The mall across the street also had breakfast options if you didn’t want to go too far. I wasn’t able to try the hotel restaurants, but I did order room service, sampling the seafood pasta and the cheeseburger, which were both average at best. It was also overpriced, as room service often is. Dessert was crème brûlée, and it was delicious, with fresh fruit and powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Looking back, I should have simply ordered a few of those.
Instead of working out, I chose to enjoy the culinary delights of Paris, but I did manage to stop by the gym and take a quick look. I could tell the fitness center had been renovated and it seemed larger and better-equipped than it had been before. Towels and apples were available, just as they are at many Starwood hotel gyms. The equipment itself looked new as well.
For those who know Paris well and want to spend time in a particular neighborhood toward the east, south or center of the city, this hotel may not be the best choice, as it’s more on the northwestern side of the city. But if you’re in town for business nearby or at the convention center or you don’t mind hopping on the Metro, it could work nicely. Its chic rooms are comfortable and the service is friendly. The hotel is also a dependable option at a great price, as Paris can be a very expensive city when it comes to hotels, depending on the season. One tip for all the coffee addicts out there: Just make sure to allocate funds for a pricey daily coffee or plan to head outside the hotel for your caffeine fix.
Have you stayed at Le Meridien Etoile Paris since its renovation? What did you think?
All photos are by author except where otherwise noted.
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