Hotel Baltimore Paris
Hard to beat, particularly for first-time Paris visitors. The 103-room, seven-floor Hotel Baltimore, named after its first regular famous guest, a Lord Baltimore, is neatly located between the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, which from its rooftop arguably affords better views of Paris than from the original Iron Lady herself. Nearby, too, is the nowadays charmless, commercialised Champs-Elysees, which once seen is better forgotten. Across the street from the hotel is the Boissiere Metro station, complete with its "Metropolitan" art deco entrance, though unless you're travelling across the city there are plenty of places to explore by foot well within the vicinity of the hotel.
A member of the giant French Accor group's MGallery collection, consisting of small to medium-sized characterful properties, Hotel Baltimore was once a Sofitel. The gorgeous Haussmann-style building in which the Baltimore is housed dates to 1892 though it was not until 1920 that it became a hotel. Much more recently, the hotel underwent a refurbishment which encompassed all of its rooms, including bathrooms, the hallways, the lobby, the restaurant and other areas.
My compact, attractive and light-filled upper floor junior suite faces the Avenue Kleber and features bonus views of the Eiffel Tower. At 29 square metres, the suite is fairly large by Paris standards. There's an attractive white-tiled bathroom, with a elegant Italian Devon & Devon basin and Faubourg taps, a bath and shower, and a slightly difficult to access taps for the latter, as well as a separate toilet. Among the suite's most welcome accoutrements is a Nespresso machine and free, easy to access Wi-Fi.
There's a rather expensive 60-seat in-house restaurant, La Table du Baltimore, but your hip-pocket will better served by exploring the more affordable neighbourhood-style eateries in the streets behind the hotel. These include Victor (yes, named after Victor Hugo, the French author), a convivial and welcoming classic Parisian bistro on rue Lariston. There's an excellent, albeit old-fashioned, Japanese restaurant further down the street run by an elderly couple with the wife speaking good English. Elsewhere, every corner near the Baltimore features a classic French cafe with the same predictable menu and characteristically mediocre coffee. Finish, or begin, your night at Baltimore's charming shoebox-sized champagne bar, just off the lobby.
Aside from its proximity to some of the City of Light's major landmarks, Hotel Baltimore is also close to lesser known attractions such as the Palais de Tokyo, a major contemporary art space with a couple of suitably funky casual dining options. If you're visiting the nearby Eiffel Tower be sure to book your ticket online in order to beat the queues. A reservation at the expensive but worthwhile Jules Verne restaurant atop the tower allows access to a dedicated guest lift.
Hotel Baltimore boasts a perfect location, a notable lack of pretension (in what can be a notoriously pretentious city) and a friendly and attentive staff. It's essentially everything you could reasonably desire from a Parisian hotel, all at a comparatively reasonable room rate.
The delightful view of the Eiffel Tower (don't miss the early evening light show) from the junior site and the courteous and friendly front desk staff.
Even the bigger rooms are a bit on the small size and the bidet gurgled during the night (put it down to Paris's ancient plumbing).
Anthony Dennis stayed as a guest of Accor, Qantas and Railbookers.