Writer's tale of two hotels By Gay Nagle Myers / December 06, 2000 Share 1 -- Right Bank, Left Bank. Two different worlds. Hotel Le Parc, Hotel Claude Bernard. Two different hotels. We stayed in both worlds and in both hotels during our trip to Paris. No comparison, no regrets.Hotel Le Parc near Place Victor Hugo on the Right Bank is the former site of Alain Ducasse's Michelin three-star restaurant and 40,000-bottle wine cellar (now located at Paris' Plaza Athenee) and within striking distance of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.My husband and I arrived on foot, pulling our carry-ons from the Victor Hugo Metro stop two blocks away.If the doorman was surprised, he masked it well.The 116-room hotel includes 25 junior and duplex suites. Le Parc's main building and five connected town houses, built for the Paris elite in the early 1900s, encircle a courtyard with gardens and a cafe.Our room faced the street, but thick-paned French doors that opened onto a small balcony muted traffic noise.Although Le Parc is a very French hotel (now part of the Sofitel Demeure line), the decor is distinctively English. British decorator Nina Campbell took great liberties with chintz and plaids, bows and swags.Her mark is everywhere, from the ground-floor library to the intimate bar, elegant restaurant, meetings rooms, fitness center and canopied four-poster beds in guest rooms. Le Parc exudes the feel of an English manor house.Personalized service is Le Parc's trademark, said Dominick Adrian, director general."Guests return to us because of services rendered by our employees," he said.Sofitel, the upscale brand of Accor, added the eight Demeure hotels in Europe to its network of 145 hotels in 48 countries earlier this year.Agents book the bulk of the commissionable U.S. business that accounts for 35% of all guests.The U.K and the rest of Europe make up the balance, according to Adrian. "We have returning guests who stay four to six nights."Adrian believes in the personal way of doing business."This hotel must be very present in the North American market. I meet with U.S. agents and I do sales calls. This is a small quality property in a city that has many quality properties," he said.That claim translates to in-room amenities such as the Bang & Olufsen radio, cable television, CD player, Villeroy & Boch china and Mumm champagne in the minibar.Several of the duplex suites have sleeping lofts overlooking high-ceilinged living rooms with views of the Eiffel Tower.Our large superior category room had a separate seating area with a desk, data ports and wing chairs. The marble bathroom had a separate tub.Had Le Parc not been in Paris, we might have nested there indefinitely, but the city beckoned.Four days later, we wheeled our carry-ons across the Seine River to the Latin Quarter.The Claude Bernard was on Rue des Ecoles, a busy main street that came alive each 5 a.m. We came alive at that hour, too. Our fourth-floor room faced the street, whose noises were our wake-up call.However, we had requested a room with a balcony and a view, and we got both. Although the balcony was narrow, we could stand on it to savor the scenes and skyline.The hotel opened in 1935 with 35 rooms. General manager Paul Benichou, whose family bought the property in 1998, began renovating it to enlarge room size and install air conditioning.Of the present 15 rooms, 10 are double and five can accommodate up to four guests.Our room had not yet been enlarged. It was small -- in fact, about the size of my work cubicle -- but we grew fond of it and the hotel's location.This winter, a lobby bar and a computer room will be added. Marble floors, a new elevator and key cards follow.A new breakfast room was added last spring."More than 75% of our guests are from the U.S.," Benichou said.The Web site, at hotelclaudebernard.com, opened in 1997 and accounts for 35% of bookings, with a small portion from agents. Benichou wants more."U.S. travel agents do not know about us, but I want to change that," he said.Commission is 10% in high season and 15% during the winter. Packages and agent discounts are available.