How to budget for an inexpensive holiday
It’s a no-brainer. Book overnight stays in budget hotel chains in France and you’ll have more money for the other great things. Like lunches in small bistros and dinners in posh restaurants; world-class museums to see and sights to visit. Here’s a guide to the chains worth looking at and tips on what to expect.
Categories of budget hotels
In the budget hotel chains in France there are two main choices, depending on the level of comfort you want. Either go for the 1-star category chains or go a little more upmarket with 2-star category hotels.
As with airline tickets, rates change almost daily. If you know in advance where you will be when, book as early as possible to get the best rates. There are other things to look out for. For instance, you’ll find that the closer to the center of any city, the more expensive the hotel.
France has a strict, government-run star system and equally strict inspection laws. But you can still find some fairly bad 1-star, individually owned and run hotels. If you stick to the chains you’ll be guaranteed a good deal, though many of them lack any great character.
PLEASE excuse the images. I have included some pictures of the budget hotel chains in France, but they are not generally inspiring. So I went off piste to include a few city shots.
You might be staying on the outskirts, but you should visit the old parts of the city you’re staying in. Justification enough!
Of course if you’re just passing through on your speedy way north, south, east or west to wherever your final destination is, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend time sightseeing. But you could always consider finding a central restaurant for dinner. That way you get the best of both worlds.
1-star hotel chains
All the hotel chains in this category offer good value for money. They have a variety of rooms, plus family rooms for up to 4 people. They offer key access if you arrive late and the reception desk is closed. They start from about 30€ per room per night for 2 people.
They are located near railway stations, airports and on the outskirts of cities. The architecture is pretty basic, but they are clean and well managed. If you’ve booked and are on an autoroute, look out for the right signs to get off!
hotelf1 started life as Formula 1 then took the trendy path and changed its name and upped its product. But it’s still great value for money. Owned by the giant French Accor group, it’s over 30 years old and has over 170 hotels throughout France.
This chain is one of the cheapest in France. The accommodation is pretty simple but every room has a bed with bedding (beds are not made up, and microfiber towels can be bought for 3€ each), a washbasin, table and chairs. The shower/WC area is nearby.
If you’re after something a little more upmarket, book a premium room. You get your own bathroom and made-up beds. Rooms for 2 have a double or twin bed; if you book for 3 you’ll be in bunk beds. There are hostel style rooms taking up to 6 people. I’ve stayed on an industrial zone just outside Chartres with a fast food Courte Paille restaurant a few steps away.
They provide a basic breakfast buffet of hot drinks, cereals and orange juice, bread, butter, jam and chocolate for 3.50€ per person.
Cost of the room is from 30€ to 50€ per night for 2 people, less off season.
Check out the hotelf1 website here
Premiere Classe is part of the international Louvre group and part of Starwood Capital. They also own Campanile Hotels and Kyriad in the budget range.
Premiere Classe have 195 hotels in France. They are upgrading some of their hotels, offering rooms with private showers, flat screen tvs and made-up beds. Again rooms are small but basic, with double or twin rooms, and a table and chair in each.
Buffet breakfast of hot drinks, cereals and orange juice, bread, butter, jam and chocolate is available for 5.90€ per person in the eating areas.
Cost of the rooms are from 30€ to 55€ per night for 2 people, less off season.
Check the Premiere Classe website here
2-star hotel chains
You’re going a bit more upmarket (and paying a bit more) for 2-star hotels.
Ace Hotels has 80 hotels. Like many of the cheaper chains, they are purpose-built and many are located outside the centre. Sound proofed and air-conditioned rooms are available. All have large beds, colour TVs, desks and a chair, ensuite bathrooms with shower, washbasin and WC and free Wi-Fi. There’s 24-hour reception and free parking.
Cost of the rooms start at 56€.
Check out all the Ace Hotels here.
P.S. They have one in Arras which is the reason for the above photo. Check the Arras Ace hotel out here.
B&B Hotels have 279 hotels in France, with most of them around Paris and in the south along the Mediterranean coastline. The décor is simple but pretty and all rooms have an en-suite bathroom with shower and toilet, a writing area and chair, colour TV, free WiFi and parking.
Buffet breakfast is 6.85€.
Cost of the rooms start at 40€ but most of their hotels are more than this .
There’s a B&B Hotel in Biot, a charming small fortified village near Antibes. Check out the Antibes/Biot B&B hotel here.
Ibis Budget Hotels
Again, part of the giant Accor groups, all the 438 Ibis Budget hotels are now upgraded with contemporary smart décor. Rooms have a double bed and bunk bed, en-suite bathrooms with shower, washbasin and WC. Rooms have a writing shelf and chair; colour TVs and free WiFi.
Buffet breakfast is 9€.
Cost of the rooms is more than other in this 2-star category beginning from 65€ per room.
Check out the Ibis Budget Hotel site here.
Like the other chains, pick your city and you’ll find an Ibis Budget Hotel. Book at Reims and save money for all that bubbly. Check out the Champagne houses in Reims here.
Not part of Accor, the small chain FastHotel has 80 hotels in France. Differing in size they have rooms for 1 to 3 people with overhead bunk beds in the larger rooms. En-suite bathroom have a washbasin, shower and WC and there’s a desk and chair, colour TVs, and free WiFi.
Buffet breakfast is from 6€.
Cost of rooms starts at 45€.
Check out the FastHotel site here.
P.S. There’s one in Caen just near the Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches. Check the Fasthotel Caen hotel here.
(If you’re after a more luxurious hotel on this stretch of coast, read my article on best places to stay near the beaches.)
This is a fun idea though choices are limited and I have not had a lot of success booking in France. But give it a try.
Universities throughout France offer rooms during the vacation which is mainly June to September. So if you want to get that student vibe, try the site.
They are available in Paris and also in Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Caen, Clermont Ferrand, La Rochelle, Lyon, Mâcon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nancy, Nice, Nîmes, Perpignan, Reims, Tours, Troyes and Valbonne. If you’re coming for a long stay it’s ideal, though you can also book one night at some of them.
Check out the University Rooms site here.
And think about…
Check out the famous French Logis Hotels chain. Logis Hotels are not included in the budget hotel chains in France but they offer some of the best value for money.
With over 2,200 hotels in France the marketing organisation is very well organised. All its hotels are individually owned and reliably good. Many of them have excellent restaurants serving local produce. They have different categories of hotels, from Logis Bacchus (vineyard logis) to family friendly Logis Famille.
They vary in price considerably, as well as in star ratings, etc. But they will be more expensive than the budget hotel chains above.
They produce an annual guide which you can pick up in any of the Logis hotels for free. It’s become my bible for looking for smaller hotels in France and I never leave home without it.
Check out the Logis Hotel site here.
Late booking sites for those last minute decisions for hotel rooms in France:
Check out lastminute.com
For more tips on saving money while travelling in Europe, check out The View from Chelsea: 12 Top Ways to Save Money on City Stays in Europe