11th May 2017
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Checking in: France’s best hostel
Author: SJ Fallick
Checking in: France’s best hostel

SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices. Her travel low point was buying a Beijing guidebook for her visit to Thailand in 2007. Thankfully her geography has improved since then.

Not one for hostels, I recently found myself seeking accommodation for one night in Paris. My friend was going for work reasons, with a hotel room provided for her second night. Meanwhile, I had a Eurostar voucher that needed using. My initial instinct was to turn to my beloved Hotel Amour, that charming boutique hotel that I reviewed after my trip last Easter, having just written about the best hostels in the world. But my inner travel writer got the better of me.

I have always said it is my duty as a travel writer to test things out and report back; after all, why should everyone else have to make the same silly mistakes I do? And that’s how I came to find myself checking in to Les Piaules on a Friday afternoon.

You may recall Les Piaules was named the best hostel in France in HostelWorld’s 15th annual HOSCAR (hilarious, I know) awards. Recently opened by three young Parisian travellers, the hostel was commended for its fully renovated art deco building, featuring a rooftop terrace with fantastic views, free wifi, late checkout, custom bunk beds, breakfast included and the coolest bar in town. The pictures were certainly impressive enough, too.

So how did it fare in real life?

Given that my friend and I draw the line at shared bathrooms, we opted for a private room with an ensuite, so sadly (or not so sadly in my view) I can’t comment on the ‘custom bunk beds’. What I can say is that we were pleasantly surprised when we opened the door to find a room that would rival any three-star hotel. Spotlessly clean, there was a very generous double bed, a large bathroom featuring a shower with impressive water pressure, towels, tea and coffee-making facilities, including a Nespresso machine, sound system dock and double glazed windows – a welcome surprise given the bustling main road below.

les piaules facade

One of the better night’s sleep I’ve had, the hostel was incredibly soundproof given its heaving bar below, which was in full swing when we returned from dinner. Located on the ground floor, the space is maximised, acting as a breakfast room and café during the day with DJs turning it into a convivial bar in the evenings. With long communal tables, couches, arcade games and even a photo booth, the hostel also provides a free welcome beer on arrival.

Free wifi was a welcome addition – proving that high-end hotels that still charge should really stop being so mean-spirited and get with the times. Located over six floors, we ventured up to look at the rooftop in the morning which, while featuring views over Paris, including the Sacré Coeur, is somewhat marred by the fact there are bedrooms taking up most of it. Still, it’s a welcome bonus given rooftops in Paris are few and far between, and there are seats up there to make the most of the sun should you so desire.

Breakfast was not included, although it was a decent spread for the very small setback of a few Euros. We were rushing off to a free walking tour – listed on a noticeboard behind reception – so we didn’t need late checkout, another generous inclusion. Be warned, however, this does mean that check-in isn’t until 3pm, a fact that found us in the basement paying for locker hire to store our bags. On that note, the locker room isn’t somewhere you’d want to find yourself alone – a strange man was suspiciously lurking there when we walked in to retrieve our bags.

All in all, it was enough to completely change any preconceptions about hostels. With friendly staff who couldn’t help enough and who prided themselves on customer satisfaction, the whole place had a communal, welcoming and energetic atmosphere – enough to reinvigorate any tired travellers, sending them out the door again with a smile and a spring in their step.

And, on checking into our three-star hotel the next day, we were greeted with a very similar standard of room, minus the rooftop and happening neighbour bar!

Les Piaules is located in the up and coming Belleville area, adjacent to the 11th arrondissement. Rooms start at €28 per night for a shared dorm or €80 for a private room.

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    COMMENTS

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    MICK
    13th May 2017
    10:40am
    ?80 a night for a private room? Ripped off Sue. This is not just poor it is very expensive.
    We just got back from France ans stayed in some wonderful locations. Fir ?80 euro a night we got apartments and some pretty nice ones to boot. Our first stop was Annecy. A wonderful stop. Cost of the nicest bedsitter you would ever hope to rent with woolen rugs, a new comfortable bed and high end fittings was just under ?80. Why would you want to stay in a hostel in the backwoods?
    I think we need to travel together and exchange ideas. Whilst some of your blogs are great you do seem to lack an understanding of where to find real value. Sorry for the lament but we did France for 3 months with some pretty expensive items on that agenda for under $18,000 including flights. A fair bit of money yes but the individual ticket items we got for that money was off the Richter scale.
    Maybe start by booking accommodation well ahead, at least 6 months, using Airbnb and VRBO. From experience try to avoid renting just a room. This is the cheapest option but there are extra costs and many of the hosts are totally unsuitable for what they are doing so you have a strained time.
    Anonymous
    13th May 2017
    7:02pm
    a slight difference micky comparing annecy, a small village where grapes and some wineries are the only places of interest and some snow during the winter to Paris with all that city has to give, museums, the louvre, Les Invalides, to many to call, beautiful churches such as the Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, other places of interest Arc de Triumphe, Moulin Rouge etc etc, the old architecture of those buildings, yet by paying the same amount of euros a night boasting you get woolen rugs on your bed, what would one expect with the temperature well below zero and than stating you had the better deal? I visited both places, annecy only once and in the summer, had trouble to fill in the 4 days I had to be there, business, and found out very quickly why no-body else put their hand up, as for Paris, been there several times, paid for by myself in a hotel which cost me less than 70 euros a night including breakfast per week and still have not seen half the sites of this beautiful city


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