PARIS -- The 39-room Regent's Garden, tucked away in an affluent
Right Bank neighborhood, was a 15-minute stroll from the Champs
Elysees and Arc de Triomphe.
Located in the 17th Arrondissement, the property where we were
to spend one night looked like a storybook 19th century house.
Check-in was handled in a quaint, red-and-gold parlor, where we
were handed an old-fashioned skeleton key to room No. 1.
A porter took us through French doors into an ornate,
pink-and-white room that appeared to have been at one time a living
It turns out the 1850 house was built by Napoleon for his
doctor, and we were staying in the doctor's drawing room.
The room had an antique armoire and a gilt mirror topped an
engraved, white-marble fireplace.
Candelabras hung on the walls and a set of windows, reaching to
the high ceiling, opened onto a backyard garden, where breakfasts
are served in good weather.
Only the television set on top of a minibar broke the room's
19th century ambience.
The all-white, modern bathroom, however, jolted us back to the
present. It was spotless, with plenty of counter space around the
sink, a tub and shower, built-in hair dryer and bathrobes.
Plastic cups wrapped in the Best Western logo seemed out of
place and reminded us that this Parisian charmer was actually part
of a U.S.-based hotel group.
The doctor's mansion opened as a hotel in 1924 and joined Best
Western in the late 1980s. Best Western represents 41 independent
hotels in Paris, using the slogan "across the street from
On the prowl for breakfast the morning we arrived, James stopped
to take pictures of pastries in a bakery window but was shooed away
by the proprietor and scolded for not buying any.
That night, we wandered the rainy streets in search of a bistro.
But cafes were scarce in our area, and the one we selected turned
out to be crowded.
Later, we did what most tourists do -- strolled around the
neighborhood, peering into apartment windows, browsing food shops
and drinking Yop (a French yogurt drink).
The next morning we lingered over a breakfast of croissants,
sweet rolls, apricot jam, coffee and orange juice in a chandeliered
Our night in lavish room No. 1 cost about $215 plus $8 for
Our room was among the hotel's priciest. Each room has a
different shape and decor, and most have modern bathrooms.
To book the Regent's Garden, call (800) 334-7234 or visit www.bestwestern.com on the Web.
Our next hotel, a 19th century building with wrought-iron
balconies, was situated along a bustling Right Bank street near the
Opera House and the Louvre.
The 26-room Hotel de Chateaudun is represented by Escapades, a
New York-based reservations service that pledges to represent
"hotels of charm and character" in France and Italy.
Escapades has 65 three- and four-star boutique hotels in Paris
and 120 throughout France. The Chateaudun, as we discovered, was no
typical tourist haunt.
Escapades took over the hotel in 1992, adding a quirky Art Deco
decor and custom-made wooden furniture.
With room key in hand, we passed a small, sleek lobby of leather
swivel chairs and cactus plants to ride a skinny elevator six
floors to the top.
A narrow hallway led to a spacious, sun-splashed corner room
with a sloped ceiling. Windows rimmed the room with views of
Parisian rooftops, and, in the distance, the Sacre Coeur
The carpet was cornflower blue, and the walls were wood-paneled.
All of the furniture, including a couch and two chairs, was white.
We also had a wooden desk and a wall-mounted wooden television
This scheme was matched in the hotel's other rooms. Rooms on the
second and fifth floors have balconies. All double rooms have
bathtubs; single rooms have showers.
In the basement, tables and chairs in ultrabright colors create
a whimsical breakfast room.
Fellow guests appeared to be mostly young European couples.
Outside, cars zipped by the hotel's entrance on the Rue
This 9th Arrondissement neighborhood was more shopping district
than quaint village; the renowned Parisian department stores
Galleries Lafayette and Printemps are a five-minute walk from the
The area was central to much of the city's attractions: We
walked up winding streets to Montmartre in 25 minutes. The hotel
also is a 25-minute walk from the Marais, a lively Jewish
historical district dotted with 17th century mansions.
Our affable front-desk clerks also suggested we hop a Metro
(subway train) to the Latin Quarter, which we did.
When checkout time grew near, leaving Paris was easy
-physically, at least.
A bus bound for the main train station, Gare du Nord, stops in
front of the hotel; the ride takes about 15 minutes. Escapades also
provides airport transfers in a private car or van for an
additional charge, starting at $40 for one passenger.
Our room cost about $150, including continental breakfasts.
To book, call (800) 725-7557 or visit www.webescapades.com on the Web.