Let’s hear it for the two-star hotels of Paris. For years, the talk of the town has been all about the rising tide of luxury, so it’s a huge relief to rediscover a proud tradition of hotel-keeping at the other end of the market. Yes, in some cases you have to compromise a little on location to find it, but the best of these properties are so good, you’ll feel stupid for ever having spent more.
1 Grand Hôtel Lévêque
If Rue Cler didn’t exist, the Paris tourist board would have had to invent it. Neat, pedestrianised and lined with artisan bakers, cheese shops and charcuteries, it’s one of the hottest foodie spots in the French capital. And would you believe it? There’s a good, cheapish hotel right in the middle of it.
The Lévêque is halfway through a refurbishment — go for a superior room on the fourth and fifth floors. They’re a good size for Paris, and the chocolate-coloured decor and square sinks in the bathroom give them a boutiquey feel. The best of them overlook the market below. You might have to bend your budget a bit to afford one, but believe me, it’s worth it. Paris doesn’t get purer than this.
Doubles from £64 (superior doubles from £100), room-only; 00 33-1 47 05 49 15, hotel-leveque.com
2 Hôtel du Champ de Mars
Hallelujah! There’s another great hotel just round the corner from Rue Cler. The rooms are small, but Françoise Gourdal, the charming propriétaire, has such a good eye for classic French interior design that you won’t mind. The curtains in particular are gorgeous, as are the lush purples of the seats in the lobby.
A word of warning: such quality, in such a location, at such a price, means the hotel is usually booked up months in advance. Reserve now if you want to stay here any time before autumn.
Doubles from £88, room-only; 01 45 51 52 30, hotelduchampdemars.com
3 Hôtel Eldorado
The spirit of bohemian Paris is alive and well in the Eldorado. It lies a block north of bustling, studenty Place de Clichy, and its rooms have a decidedly bric-a-brac flavour — the towels in the bathroom don’t match and oriental busts jostle for space with old-fashioned posters on the walls.
That’s all part of the appeal, though. The place has been put together with an eye for pattern and colour, despite a minuscule budget, and the kooky waitresses downstairs in the Bistro des Dames add to the sense of style. Step inside and you’ll feel you’ve been teleported back to the age of Man Ray and Coco Chanel.
Doubles from £65, room-only; 01 45 22 35 21, eldoradohotel.fr
4 Mama Shelter
This is the most eye-catching new hotel to open in Paris for years. Philippe Starck has teamed up with a former Club Med CEO, Serge Trigano, to create a hotel that is cheap but cool. Upstairs, compact doubles are equipped with high-quality beds and linen, Macs and microwaves. Downstairs, a lovely, sprawling bar/restaurant/lobby provides the ultimate budget buzz in the city.
There are DJs at the weekend, and even though the hotel is several Métro stops east of the city centre, they always draw a crowd.
Doubles from £100, room-only; 01 43 48 48 48, mamashelter.com
5 Grand Hôtel Jeanne d’Arc
The Jeanne d’Arc is a bright, clean and friendly hotel that sits on the southern edge of the Marais — the most atmospheric quartier in Paris — and it costs less than £85 a night for a double. Surely some mistake?
Apparently not: it’s been going for years and has a devoted following.
The refurbished rooms are colourful, and quite roomy for Paris, but it’s the setting that really dazzles. Five minutes’ walk from here, you’re standing in the middle of the exquisite 17th-century Place des Vosges. Ten minutes and you’re at the Picasso Museum. This must be the best blend of price and location in the city.
Doubles from £82, room-only; 01 48 87 62 11, hoteljeannedarc.com
6 Hôtel du Nord et de l’Est
If there were just a dash more style in the decor, or if it sat at a more fashionable address, the Hôtel du Nord et de l’Est could probably double its prices. Thankfully, it can’t — because it’s rare indeed to find such a well-run hotel so close to the city centre for this price.
The rooms are conservative in style, but feel quite classy and are sparklingly clean. Several have just been refurbished. The chic little bars and restaurants of the Quai de Valmy are just five minutes’ walk away, and the local station at Place de la République is served by no less than five Métro lines.
Doubles from £92, room-only; 01 47 00 71 70, hotel-nord-est.com
Sean Newsom travelled as a guest of Eurostar
Getting there: Eurostar (0870 518 6186, eurostar.com ) has returns from St Pancras to Paris from £59. Airlines flying to Paris include British Airways (0844 493 0787, ba.com ), Air France 0871 663 3777, airfrance.co.uk ), BMI (0870 607 0555 , flybmi.com ) and Flybe (0871 700 2000, flybe.com ).