There’s something weird going on with Paris hotels, I gradually concluded as I conducted the research for a place to stay for four September nights. At a certain price point of $300-ish per night, the aesthetic leaves classic Paris behind for something that would be more at home at South Beach circa turn of the millennium—flat shiny surfaces and purple neon lighting and pop art lead the way. It couldn’t be farther from what I am seeking out when I go to Paris, and it was leading me to wonder if in going there, I was doing so in search of a Paris that doesn’t exist anymore.
It does, but only in pockets and, interestingly, mostly at the lower and higher ends. Before I started my dispiriting search, an acquaintance had recommended the Hotel Langlois, a 24-room relic of the late 19th century located in the 9th arrondissement. I looked it up and found that it was notably cheaper than my budgeted $300 per night. I kept looking, though, under the logic that I’d find something better if I spent just a little more, and that you should never take the first thing you find, even though eight times out of 10 we end up circling back to our first impulse.
And so, after a fruitless journey down the rabbit hole of Paris accommodation, I booked the Hotel Langlois for four nights at 185 euros per night, which at the time was about $240 US, but at today’s exchange rate would be more like $205. The price included wireless internet but not breakfast. Since I’d be working, I requested a room with a desk and upon arrival, I ascended to my floor in the wrought iron elevator, then opened my door and actually, physically swooned a little.
When I think about that brief trip to Paris, I think about our hotel room predominantly. I think about leaning out over the Juliet balcony to see the cathedral down the street, about taking wide-awake selfies on the bed while my boyfriend lay conked out from jetleg, about sitting around drinking wine, about the elaborate black fireplace mantel and the soaring old ceiling and the deep red carpet, about the old oil paintings in the hallways. We spent a lot of time in that room. We forewent the breakfast offered by the hotel downstairs and opted instead for café au laits ordered up. We bought the wine from a shop on nearby Rue Montmartre. We watched the busy street down below clear out when business hours were over.
Because this was a true R&R holiday, except with the need to work a few hours every day thrown in, we felt no compunction to check any of the must-see Paris sights off a list. Instead, we had leisurely mornings, then at some point wandered out for the third in a string of cafe au laits that stretched farther than you could see, down the Rue Montmartre, around a couple curves, over a bridge and past Notre Dame. After changing course somewhere in the Left Bank, the string of cafe au laits would end, right where a similar string of glasses filled with red wine began, snaking through the city past the Louvre and onward, somehow grazing the Canal St. Martin before eventually depositing us back at the Langlois in the 9th. The location served us well, within walking distance to both Montmartre and the Louvre, for example. We didn’t take a single subway trip during our stay, even though there was a station just down the street.
If there is a drawback to the Hotel Langlois, it is the lack of communal spaces. There’s no restaurant and just a small lobby, with a room to the side where breakfast is served. For us, being tucked away in our room was the goal, but some travelers might miss having more extensive public spaces to take advantage of. Communal spaces rule the day in the newest, hippest hotels, after all. But for a different kind of Parisian experience, one in which older customs are observed and preserved, I can’t recommend the Hotel Langlois highly enough.
The Hotel Langlois | 63 Rue Saint Lazare | 75009 Paris, France