Room and toilets were clean. Soap, towels, linen changed daily. Window and heating worked fine. I've stayed here twice, in two different rooms, and couldn't detect smells of urine or cigarette smoke in either (though a few ciggy burns on the windowsill, despite supposedly being a non-smoking room) but maybe other reviewers have keener noses. Pillows a bit thin, but OK. Mattress seemed good to me, but I prefer a harder mattress than some people. Yes, the television is pretty much all French apart from a BBC news channel, a Spanish channel and an Italian channel. Guess what? You're in a budget hotel in continental Europe now, not a Disneyland theme park.
Breakfast is cereal, yoghurt, bread with jam/honey/nutella, cake (brioche), cheese if you want it, orange or apple juice and tea/coffee. Fruit salad/compote is average and runs out quickly, as do croissants sometimes. Don't expect all-you-can-eat fried eggs, sausages, pancakes and hash browns at this price (6€ a head).
Counter staff are brisk rather than friendly, but so would I be if dealing with the long check-in queues they face around lunchtime. A burly security man keeps a close eye on things in the foyer. Security code needed for lifts (i.e. elevators; and by the way, don't freak out if fellow guests say 'bonjour' and face inwards: it's the francophone way, like a short little party. After a couple of days, you'll be doing it too, and maybe even saying 'avoir' from time to time when you get out.)
The area immediately outside can feel a little seedy from Saturday to Monday. This is the outer fringes of the flea markets, where the poor congregate to buy and sell. Expensive antiques are just a few blocks to the north-east (see http://marcheauxpuces-saintouen.com/1.aspx ). Tip: use the Garibaldi metro station, and arrive in the daytime. That way, although it's a slightly longer walk, you can share the footpath with grannies, schoolkids and mums pushing prams, rather than trundling your suitcase through a throng of dodgy looking men under a bridge selling single packets of batteries or sleeping bags.
I've walked from Garibaldi down that stretch of the rue Charles Schmidt plenty of times about 9pm and not felt threatened. Admittedly, I'm a 6'2" guy, and have travelled quite a bit. I might feel a bit differently if I was a young woman travelling alone for the first time: there are clusters of young guys drinking in the evenings outside a couple of the bars (they mostly seem to be minding their own business and chatting with friends).
There's a Monoprix supermarket nearby, a Portuguese barbecue restaurant with a good set-price 'menu' lunch, and a self-service, confusingly coin-operated laundry (laverie libre service) on the corner of rue Nicolet. Check out Google street view and you'll soon have a feel for the milieu.
Maybe there's better deals available at independent, family-run hotels elsewhere in Paris - I haven't investigated - but when first arriving in a city, I prefer the security of a guaranteed reservation made online directly through a chain's own online booking system.
Summary: seemed clean, convenient and good value to me, but don't arrive at night on the weekends unless you're looking for a slight adrenalin rush.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Close to the district of Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur, this Etap Hotel is located in the heart of the Flea Market of Saint-Ouen and 15 minutes from the Stade de France.Guestrooms feature a satellite TV, shower, toilet and all the comfort to make your stay enjoyable. Free Wi-Fi access is available in public areas.Enjoy a breakfast buffet every morning. The Etap team welcomes you 24/7 to help facilitate your stay. ... more less
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