What to look and ask for when choosing a hotel.
Hotels in France were once graded according to a star system run by the government, but in 2012 came into line with the rest of the EU. This means that instead of being judged against 20 government criteria, hotels are now measured according to 246 different points.
These include levels of service, from breakfast to whether there is a safe in the room, cleanliness, the state of the building, access to wifi, the size of rooms and their facilities – all establishments, whatever their number of stars, must have two power points in the bathroom and at least four clothes hangers in the closet. According to one hotelier, Didier Décamp of l’Epi d’Or, to have three stars, three languages must be spoken at the hotel.
The ratings are:
- one star: a basic hotel
- two stars: standard
- three stars: comfort
- four stars: first class
- five stars: luxury
The ratings do not cover any criteria considered subjective, such as charm and ambience.
When booking your hotel, always check what is offered – if a proper shower is a must, make sure your chosen hotel doesn’t have just a bath with a hand-held attachment (popular in smaller hotels). If your hotel has a restaurant, ask if it is open all week – in some smaller towns the restaurant may well be closed on a Monday.
Another issue to confirm is whether breakfast is included in the price – if it is, it is likely to be a ‘continental breakfast’ of fruit juice, croissants, half a baguette, assorted jams plus tea or coffee. Higher starred hotels will usually offer a selection of cheese and cold meats and sometimes eggs and other hot food.
At coastal resorts there are many simple hotels that offer relatively basic but clean accommodation at reasonable prices.
If you’re driving, ask about parking in advance – many hotels have their own parking spaces either within the hotel complex or nearby and it’s easier to know that before you arrive and not when you’re driving around a maze of one-way streets!