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Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, and consequently has over 2,000 hotels within its borders. The city boasts an impressive array of luxurious boutique hotels, as well as comfortable family-friendly lodging and, of course, a slew of backpacker accommodations. And these different categories of hotels are not necessarily separated by neighborhood - it's possible to find a budget hostel and a five-star boutique mere blocks from each other in Paris.
The hotel search, however, is made simpler by Paris's layout - the city is divided into numbered neighborhoods, or "Arrondisements," each with its own attractions, character, and location pros and cons. This is helpful if you would like a hotel near a Paris landmark - just find which Arrondisement it's in and you can easily narrow your hotel search.
Left Bank versus Right Bank
The Seine divides the City of Light into two halves - the Left Bank is the southern section with the Right Bank to the north, and each bank has its own distinctive character.
The Right Bank is generally considered to be "downtown" Paris. It is busy, dynamic, and opulent, with such landmarks as the Louvre, the Champs Elysees, and the Arc de Triomphe as well as luxurious shopping districts like Avenue Montaigne. The Left Bank boasts its own collection of Parisian icons, including the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, and the Musee d'Orsay. But the Left Bank is generally a bit more reserved and residential than the Right. Quiet neighborhoods of townhouses, gardens, cafes, and galleries are common sights here, and visitors will enjoy strolling through artsy sections such as the historic and scholarly Latin Quarter in the 5th Arrondisement.
It is impossible to generalize hotels for either bank. However, hotels in the residential Left Bank tend to be small, elegant places with a personal touch - such as the Hotel le Tourville, Hotel du Quai-Voltaire, and the Hotel de l'Universite. There are small, affordable places aplenty in the Right Bank too, but a lot of hotels at both extremes as well - from rock-bottom backpacker lodging to luxury hotels with amenities galore, some even housed within 18th century palaces. The Right Bank is home to opulent legends such as the Hotel Meurice on Rue de Rivoli, as well as more family friendly accommodations like the Timhotel Le Louvre, located a short walk away from the Louvre itself.
Boutiques to Budget and Beyond
The great thing about Paris hotels is that even low-cost places with few amenities can be in beautiful, 18th century buildings, making the cost-cutting worth it. In a city known for its high culture and artistic tradition, hotels also often put a big emphasis on design and style, juxtaposing classic Paris style with contemporary trends. Beautiful design work pops up not only in luxury and boutique hotels, but in unexpected places like the touristy Montmartre neighborhood (where the hidden mansion Hotel Particulier offers quirky suites each designed by an artist) and discount hotels (the Hotel de Nesle, as low as 75 Euros per night and located on the Left Bank near Ile de la Cite, has colorful murals in each room).
There are also alternate accommodations available in Paris. Travelers on a budget can easily find hostel-style accommodations, and the city also has plenty of homey bed and breakfasts and short-term apartment rentals and "aparthotels" (a cross between an apartment and a hotel) available for travelers through rental agencies.
Paris hotels are all rated according to a government rating system that is based on multiple factors including room size, amenities, renovations, and dining. Be aware that historic buildings tend to have small rooms, and also that many buildings do not have air conditioning since hot weather doesn't last very long in Paris. It is also helpful to know that rates tend to be lowest in the winter from about November to February, and in the summer during July and August when many Parisians are off on vacation and the city quiets down.