Paris… An Apartment Or A Hotel?

November 13, 2012

The last time I was in Paris I stayed in an apartment… it was my first time.

I have never done that before as I have always stayed in hotels.

I am spoilt when it comes to Paris… whether I am in London or Provence, the city is only a little over two hours away… the temptation to visit is forever with me… constantly teasing.

Paris is the one city I never tire of and a city that always intrigues and surprises me… Over the years I have stayed in the best and the worst of Paris… and I appreciate both sides.

The ‘working me’ looks for the practical and the budget stay… the travelling-with-the-husband me is a little more extravagant.

Hotels… the good, especially the great, the bad and those forgettable places in the middle are easy because they offer freedom and flexibility.

Check-in… Check-out… Everything is done for you… but… and there is one big but… they don’t feel like home… It doesn’t matter how smart or how grand a hotel is… it is not the same.

Being in an apartment made me feel as if I were more connected to the city, more a part of the life.

I stayed with a girlfriend and within hours the apartment she had rented felt like ‘ours’.

The biggest advantage is space… you can really relax… spread out… I know that a hotel makes all that possible but being in your own apartment is different… it does become home away from home.

Staying in a Parisian apartment… even though it was days and not months, made me feel less the tourist and more like a local.

I have promised myself that one day I will move to Paris for three months, find an apartment and polish my French… that would be my dream come true.

I don’t know when and I am not sure how… but the why is all about a long held desire to spend more time in Paris.

I imagine early morning starts… some snapping on the way to my local cafe… school all morning… practicing those irregular verbs and trying to soften the Provencal/Australian lilt from my accent.

The afternoons and the evenings would be my time to explore, the familiar and the unfamiliar… speaking only in French… A lovely dream… idyllic… Don’t you think?

My friend Erica, who I met through her fabulous blog HiP Paris, is the person in the know when it comes to renting apartments in Paris.

Haven in Paris represents beautiful apartments all over the city… different sizes, different price ranges and different decorative styles… all offering that ‘home away from home’ experience.

If you are visiting Paris as a family or with a friend… or living your dream… as I would like to do… think about an apartment.

Even if you have no immediate plans, are simply imagining your perfect French holiday… or want to pack up like me and indulge in the language for a few months… there is no harm in looking.

When you travel… do you prefer to stay in a hotel or an apartment? Are you always dreaming… dreaming of Paris… like me? xv


Haven In Paris  //  HiP Paris 

images - haven in paris

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  • Alexa says:

    thats a beautiful apartment. I am often in paris and always stay in a hotel … but perhaps I should try an apartment one of these days. How did you find this apartment?

  • Love your blog Vicki and all you write about in France. My dream, too, is to spend 3 months in Paris, in an apartment. One day . . .

  • pve says:

    Traveling alone or just two, I prefer a hotel but as a family or group, I think an apartment makes it more comfortable. We rented an apartment in Paris a few years ago and it was wonderful~ although it looked not as posh as the one you have posted. Thanks for sharing. Merci.

    • Vicki says:

      I agree… I am sure it’s easier when there are more of you.. although it could be quite peaceful… a little parisian apartment… alone…:)

  • Anita Rivera says:

    Bonjour Vicki!

    Well, I am partial to apartment living when in France, ANYWHERE there. You do get to LIVE the life as intended. While I was in Nice, I lived in an apartment and even ate dinner and drank a pastis with a family downstairs. What a great way to get to know Nice. Paris, the same thing. I even got to see Patti Lupone the singer, as I walked out of my Paris apartment!

    You are me both, Paris is always on the mind. What has SHE done to us? She has taken us into her bosom and we are forever changed. I LOVE PARIS!


  • Pamela says:

    Dear Vicki
    Apartments are definitely the way to go in Paris if you’re going to be there for a week or more. We book the same apartment each time. It’s well located and equipped, including washing machine, air conditioner for the summer, heated towel rails, wifi, DVD and CD player etc and kitchen of course. We enjoy shopping in the Montorgueil markets and local supermarkets and can walk one direction to the Louvre and Palais Royal and in another to the Pompidou and the Marais, not far from any of these. It can even be quite a bit cheaper than a hotel.
    Share your fantasy of living in Paris for at least three months. A lovely dream.

    Best wishes,


    • Vicki says:

      Glad to hear your opinion Pamela… it seemed to me like a fabulous option for a week or more… Yes.. I think it’s a good fantasy…:)

  • Vicki- My client did just that-rented an apartment in Paris for a month! She did that to celebrated her 60th birthday! Part of the time her husband was there, sisters, friends. Sort of a rotation of people to celebrate her birthday. That’s my new goal…

  • Patricia says:

    We have always stayed in apartments….and (blush) we did as you have described. We finally rented an apartment for three months in the posh 16th. We listened to the neighbor practice his violin (fabulous, not scratchy), we used corner markets who came to know us and even knew as we walked in which bread was our choice, the stinky cheese market and the cooking chickens were all right around the corner. The pharmacy helped us in need and YES, we felt like we were temporary Parisians living in our neighborhood not a tourist hotel.

    • Vicki says:

      The 16th is a wonderful destination… my daughter had three months there during her gap year and loved it… Maybe that’s what I need… a gap YEAR…;)))

  • quintessence says:

    Very timely Vicki – thinking of coming in January and was just trying to figure out this dilemma. Have to look at the site again but the convenience of a hotel with room service etc is appealing as well!

    • Vicki says:

      Yes… but I find that I want to be out and about most of the time in Paris… :)

    • Erica says:

      Hi there. I thought I would chime in to say that while we don’t have traditional room service as in a hotel, we do work closely with a wonderful concierge who can do pretty much everything you may need, as long as you give her a bit of notice. And we are offering some excellent discounts in January. I hope we can help you out! -Erica

  • Ruth Sklar says:

    I much prefer an apartment and have a favorite on the Ile St. Louis…
    I have stayed for a month and plan on six weeks next September. I’m working my way up to 3 or so months! I don’t mind if I get company or am alone, I am always happy. I used to tell my students that though I live in central PA, my soul lives in Paris….

  • If I ever make it to Paris, this is what I would want to do!! Such a wonderful idea. You have created within me a big wanderlust!

  • Brenda says:

    Bonjour Vicki,

    I agree, apartment living is the best way to experience Paris. Just before I opened this email I sent payment to secure the apartment for our next trip. I wouldn’t travel to Paris any other way.
    I love shopping the Rue Cler market, wine and cheese shops, boulangerie, and patisseries. We met some of the nicest people in local eateries that invited us to sit with them. This trip, we are bringing our oldest son for his sixteenth birthday. He is currently taking a French course and is looking forward to this experience, and we are thrilled to share our love of Paris with him.
    The bonus of renting an apartment near La Grande Dame is that you never get lost when returning.
    Wishing you a beautiful week! xoxo,B

  • Hmmm…I don’t actually think that your French needs much sharpening up…I think that you are just looking for an excuse to go live in Paris for three months!!!

    And I am 100% sold on renting apartments–especially in Paris where the rooms in my price range are often closet-sized and charmless. For far less, I have found some really fantastic options–I especially love a small modern one bedroom that is on the Passage Choiseul–lovely to stroll through when it is closed at night with all of the Japanese restos nearby. :)

  • Candi says:

    Hi Vicki,

    After saving for nearly 10 years, my dream trip to Paris finally became a reality on my 50th birthday in autumn 2009. My husband and I made the choice to spend our two weeks in an apartment in Le Marais. Our little studio overlooked St. Paul’s cathedral and I never tired of sitting on the balcony overlooking the city. Even if we never return, the memories that were made will be with me always. Thank you for your beautiful blog. I look forward to finding it in my email every morning!

    • Vicki says:

      Paris is a great place for memories… my earliest are from a trip I tok with my mother when I was ten… Maybe that is why I have this strong connection… :)

  • Katherine says:

    Staying at a chic Paris apartment is on my wish list. I want to experience this for two seasons…. and then again, once there I may not leave.
    I like your choices of stays.

  • Leigh Ann says:

    Hi Vicki,

    We much prefer an apartment. But…my husband and I lived for 2 years there (15 years ago!) and so feel quite comfortable shopping the markets, searching out restaurants and generally negotiating everything in French- he is much more fluent than I.

    We spent almost two weeks there this summer with our teenage daughters to celebrate their birthdays and an apartment gave us a quiet, comfortable place to just relax after a day of sightseeing and we could spread out. We even had several dinners in (well, mainly brought in from the shops) after a long day and big celebratory lunches.

    I looked at Haven – beautiful apartments- but ultimately went with a more moderately priced one in our old neighborhood (16th). We had travelled France for two weeks before landing in Paris, staying in hotels, and much prefer the apartment experience for comfort, anonymity, and value.

    However, several of our American friends are too intimidated by this- saying they want and need a hotel for services and to help advise them on information about the city (reservations, metro, etc). I guess I see their point, but loved the feeling of “living” in Paris again, and of course one sees the city better when living like a native.

    my dreams are of Paris! Love your blog! LA

    • Vicki says:

      I suppose there is always a place for the concierge… but I am sure many apartment rental services provide all this help these days… I do like the idea of ‘living’ as opposed to ‘visiting’.. I guess it is semantics, but it does feel different…

      • Leigh Ann says:

        HI VIcki,

        Semantics do make a difference!

        I was slightly dumbfounded by friends’ reactions- of needing the live person to greet them at the door, make recommendations, concerns of safety(?!?!). I certainly enjoy being pampered at a luxurious hotel (who doesn’t?!) but it isn’t the way I would chose to experience a city like Paris….New York maybe!

        I notice that most all of your commenters prefer the apartment and wonder if we share a certain esprit- a thirst for experience and adventure in another culture more than just a vacation. The sliding open of the heavy door, letting me into the marble-floored lobby and the old iron elevator taking me up to ‘our’ apartment with its parquet floors, marble fireplaces and boiserie…made me feel once again that I belong to the city…living not visiting as you said.

  • Kathy says:

    My daughter and I rented an apartment this last time..Ile St Louis out our back door, and all of the Marais out the front, and the most charming courtyard in between. It was a beyond our dreams!
    My philosophy is that one should always be on the way to Paris, or on the way home, and always planning one’s next trip.

  • Joyce says:

    We’ve rented apartments in Paris on Ile St. Louis and more recently (last month) in the Marais. Each place had its own personality and charm. It was a bit more hassle managing our bags, but definitely worth it I think. For us it was a great way to get to know each neighborhood and connect with the city. I too would like to work on my French! A good excuse to go back.

  • Darina says:

    I am always dreaming of Paris, lovely city!!

  • Karena says:

    Vicki, the apartment looks wonderful! I have always stayed in hotels except when traveling to Greece; I stay at my friends home near the Corinthian Sea! I have not been to Paris and it is at the top of my list..

    Giveaway from Scalamandre

  • Gina says:

    I would so love to stay in a place where someone really came and went from. It would change the entire feel of the trip!

    • Vicki says:

      That whole feeling of identifying with the city.. it allows you to imagine what it would be like to actually live there… without all the real problems of expat life:))

  • Nicole says:

    Hi Vicki,

    We went to Paris for the first time this summer for 2 weeks. We stayed in an HIP apt. in St-Germain-des-Prés. It was divine!! We loved it and I highly recommend it. We felt immersed in the culture and after a long day of sightseeing, it was a nice, quiet retreat. It was well situated, an ideal location and a very lively neighbourhood to say the least.

    And yes, I think and dream about Paris all the time now. Couldn’t get enough of it. This is a city that does not disappoint. I was sad to leave, which has never happened to me before on a trip! We’ll be back for sure!

    • Vicki says:

      I think the sign of a great trip is if you are sad to leave… it is always best to leave wanting more… Paris is all about the more…

    • Erica says:

      Hi Nicole,

      I am so glad you enjoyed the apartment you rented. And it is so wonderful to be immersed in the culture and have a retreat at the end of the day. We hope you make it back soon. All the best! -Erica

  • Paris is my favorite city in the world! I would love to rent an apartment there for 3-6 months just to experience life as a Parisian. I am going for a few days next year after a longer European trip and am planning on looking into Haven in Paris to rent an apartment.

    I have rented places all over the US, Mexico and the Carribbean but never in Europe. It is so much nicer to have a “home” when you are traveling especially if you are traveling with children.

    I am curious – you mentioned “polishing your French”. I have always dreamed of spending an extended amount of time in Provence, but have been discouraged because of my total inability to speak French. Would I be able to manage with almost no French skills?

    Your blogs are so beautiful – they make my day!!

    • Vicki says:

      Sandy… you must come to Provence… you will always be able to make yourself understood and besides, the locals love it if you try to speak… Whether you will understand them is another matter:) I didn’t speak a word ( a bit of schoolgirl French) and I managed to buy and renovate a home… and establish an olive grove… More good luck than good management though! Now I can speak and understand the language… I would like to do it better…:)

  • Beth Lowe says:

    I returned home from a 10 day Paris visit–it was also my first time to stay in an apartment. For I city I know as well as Paris, I chose a studio apartment on the Left Bank side of the Il St. Louis–every morning when I left my door I saw the buttress of Nortre Dame, I was a short 5 minutes to St. Germain and 7 from the Pont Marie Metro. I had to pinch myself, knowing I was the luckiest girl in the world. I was terribly safe, terrifically clean, a perfect location and recently outfitted from IKEA. I brought in dinner one night from the market and although I didn’t cook, it would have been easy to prepare a light meal. I am busy now learning more about the wonderful things I saw and planning my next visit.

  • Vicki, your dream sounds like a beautiful one – I hope you get the chance to make it come true some day. I have a similar dream, but mine involves painting as well as learning the language. And there is also the dream to just be able to be in Paris at least once a year – which, when I look at my passport over the last decade, I’ve almost achieved! I’ve stayed both in hotels and apartments and totally agree with what you’ve said here. There’s something about being in an apartment that makes you feel more at home, more a part of the city. But I do love the pampering that comes from being at a good hotel (The biggest difference for me between my last two stays in Paris was that the apartment we stayed in did not have a decent coffee maker, so we had to be up and dressed before we could get a caffeinated. At the hotel we chose on my most recent visit, I could have very good coffee in my PJs. For some this would be a minor thing, but for me, starting the day with coffee first thing is a favorite ritual). I see myself haunting both hotels and apartments as the years pass and the trips to Paris come my way, depending on what my mood turns out to be!

    Here’s to having beautiful dreams! XO

    PS- Love the photos.

    • Vicki says:

      I understand only too well what you mean about the coffee… My husband, who travels endlessly now has a Nespresso Pixie… so he can have a ‘shot’ whenever or whatever time zone he is on… I gave it to him for Christmas last year… and he says it is the best present he has ever received..:) Easily pleased!

  • Amy Kortuem says:

    I love this idea, Vicki, especially if I bring my Mom with me to Paris next time. Last time our hotel was EXACTLY as big as the two twin beds in it! We laughed so hard.

    But a little apartment for a week would be so lovely. Thanks for sharing!

  • For the last ten years I have stayed in apartments in Paris.It is a wonderful way to blend into a neighborhood and find a favorite bakery,butcher,cheese shop,florist etc…Haven in Paris is a great company! I have rented from them several times and always had a comfortable stay! Antiques are my passion and so Paris is the dream destination for me!

  • déjà pseu says:

    Gorgeous place! We stayed once in an apartment in the Marais. I very much enjoyed venturing out to the local boulangerie for fresh bread for breakfast while my husband slept in, and having a washing machine! But he prefers staying in hotels, likes to be pampered.

    • Vicki says:

      I think there are trips when we feel like an apartment stay and others where we prefer a hotel… I like the freedom of looking after myself too… of tasting the local fare… shopping… just living the life really…

  • Mary Jo says:

    I hope to rent a flat in Italy in January, so it was nice to hear your perspective on this and loved how you describe the difference between a hotel and apartment–everyone I know who has done it has only the best things to say. I can’t wait!

    xo Mary Jo

    • Vicki says:

      I think it is a different experience Mary Jo… and definitely worth doing…:) I think, as I said… there are times when hotels work well and others when being in ‘your own’ apartment is better.. I always imagined that I would love to to rent something in Venice… More dreaming…

  • Karen in CT says:

    … yes, so true about apartments .. nice to just settle in .. however, I have met and talked to the most interesting people in a small hotel lobby, waiting for someone or having a cocktail. I would miss that, as I do love hearing other people’s travels and finding new adventures. I also like that there is someone downstairs 24 hours who can get you help in an emergency, heaven forbid.

    Great post, as usual …. Karen in CT

  • hi vicki.

    we booked an apartment last month with HIP and loved it! will def use them again as they made the experience so stress-free, and the property was perfect for us.

    the other part of our stay was at a posh hotel which has its glory too. next time, i will book a longer stay!

    smiles to you.


  • Susan says:

    this looks fabulous,found your apartment on the net, will be there again, but not for 18 months, with a House Swap in South of France as well,and with friends from Sydney.A great post,
    cheers from Corlette,N.S.W.

  • Gigi says:

    I have had the same dream of spending 3 months in Paris far it has only been 2 weeks at a time, but I am definitely grateful for even that! I have stayed in both hotels and appartments, and I believe there is a place for both. As you said Vicki, appartments are wonderful to get that ‘at home’ feeling, they certainly have much, much more space, and I find it works out to be the less expensive option, but I think a stay of at least a week is necessary for all the ‘effort’ it takes to organise an appartment…backwards and forwards with signed leases, bank transfers for deposits, security payments etc. I prefer to stay in a hotel if I am travelling alone, call me a wimp, but I like the security of knowing there is someone there to help me if I’m in need!

    • Vicki says:

      A week is essential..:)
      I agree that it’s easier to stay in a hotel if the visit is just days in length.. but for extended stays… the apartment option is wonderful…

  • It sure looks gorgeous, Vicki. Isn’t the light amazing! That’s a wonderful dream and I know you’ll make it come true.

  • Hi Vicki, such a great post, travelling through France for 5 weeks (Sept/Oct 2012) we experienced hotels, gites, chambre d’hote and when in Paris for our last 7 days of the trip had our own appartment in the Marais district. I highly recomend staying in an appartment in Paris- it actually worked out cheaper for that length of time and we were able to make our own breakfasts and picnics if we wanted as well as evening meals when we didn’t feel like going out. I think we saved heaps of money and we got to really experience the Parisian life by shopping at markets and local shops- more money for things like the Eiffel tower and entry into museums etc. We had our two young children with us and we felt free to relax and be ourselves. Our appartment was really gorgeous, well appointed and in a fabulous location. xxCorrina.

    • Vicki says:

      I am glad the trip was wonderful Corrina…and apartments are a great way to go with young children… so much less stressful when there is more space…

  • Dianne says:

    Yes! you should do it Vicki … I’ve just returned from 4 weeks in an appartment in Paris and loved waking up early in that glorious city … ambling down to take my petit-dejeuner at the corner cafe and watch the street slowly waking up … and listening to the sounds and drinking in the smells of Paris.

    “All Things French”

  • oh how can one ever tire of paris? am just returning and re-entry is soooooo hard!!

    sounds like a great idea vickie as the hotel rooms are quite small and cramped. thanks for the info!

    • Vicki says:

      Coming home… always bitter- sweet… but the beauty of Paris.. she is always there… in our imagination and memories at the very least.. :)

  • Rena says:

    It was June this year and my 3rd time I visited Paris, my city No.1.
    As I am only stay for a couple of days I prefer hotels but also dreaming to stay longer to discover the secrets of this city and then I definitely will rent a cozy apartment. I also would like to try house swapping, where friends of mine have made good experiences. What do you know/think about this idea? Anyway one day our dreams will come true.

  • Colette Nel says:

    You share it so beautifully here, I could book the next flight!
    We started renting a apartment instead of staying in a hotel in Paris when my daughter was a todler- deciding it would be easier and much more convenient with more room for her.Since then we have never gone back to staying in a hotel whenever it allows.Years later and we still prefer a apartment or maison in the country. The three of us now shop together at food markets, deciding on what to cook- even when the kitchen is limited in what it offers,that is part of the fun and has added to alot of memorable meals! Walking to the corner bistro makes us feel like locals, and hearing the sounds of the inner court yards even more!
    Have a lovely week, from a gorgeous sunny Afrique du Sud. Xx

  • Lindsay says:

    Hi Vicki, I love your blog and these images of Haven in Paris’ apartments are gorgeous. Would love for you to have a look at our blog, full of Paris properties and also important info about the Paris real estate market. X

  • miss b says:

    I have lost count of the number of times I have visited Paris but we always stay in a hotel (I never tire of this fascinating city and I’m happy revisiting familiar places whilst discovering new ones) I haven’t really considered an appartment but feeling more like a local than a tourist really appeals (especially as I lived in France for a year) I can just imagine how you felt staying there.

  • Usually when we travel we use hotels and I’ve managed to find some fabulous ones over the years. The only time I booked an apartment was, funnily enough, for a family stay in Paris. Unfortunately it didn’t look at all like those beautiful photos above. It was a very bland Citadines apartment and, apart from the fact that it felt quite safe, it was very boring. I can’t believe I got it so wrong, when I tend to get it right with hotels.
    Next time I’m going to try Haven in Paris!

  • We spent a week on Isle St Louis courtesy of Guest Apartment Services. Having their office on the island, you can pop in for advice and bookings so the service is akin to a concierge. Robes, slippers and divine linen, a full information pack in the apartment with a mid week clean. The best of both apartment and hotel in the blissful isle.

  • Kathleen says:

    I just returned (4 days ago) from 9 days in Paris w/ my husband, celebrating our first wedding anniversary—–at 61 and 64, we are like lovestruck teenagers. This is not our first trip, but the first time we rented an apartment, in the 11th, only 3 blocks from the Aligre Market. IT WAS HEAVENLY to cook several breakfasts and 3 dinners—–and the food was, as we all know, just superb. Immediately upon landing, I booked a trip for a week in April 2015 with my BFF who has never been there (her husband only likes cruises, so………) and on 4.10.15 off we go to an apartment probably in Le Marais. Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait.

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