Travel Tips

New Paris Hotels & Luxury Travel Trends – Postcard from Suzy Gershman

Locations in this article:  Hong Kong New York City, NY Paris, France

InterContinental Marceau Paris - Hotel Room TerraceDear Peter,
I write this to you from one of the coolest hotels I have ever visited, the “new” InterContinental Marceau in Paris, behind the George V and one block from the Champs Elysees.

I say new because it’s been open for a year and a half but most of the world doesn’t know it exists—it’s a tiny boutique hotel with Philippe Starck luxuries and whimsies and a staff gathered from some of Paris’ finest hotels. The chef was number two at the Four Seasons George V!

I’ve seen a fair number of hotels in Europe (partly thanks to that volcano), and I’ve seen some new and refreshing marketing and style trends that I think will interest you.

Plus I always have tips for readers…


We’ve watched the world learn how to sneeze into its elbow and been wary of international germs (not Germans) since the SARS epidemic and the recent H1N1, but at the Hôtel Sofitel Dijon La Cloche in Dijon I saw two rather amazing things: a large pump jar of hand sanitizer gel in a fancy basket surrounded by lacy tissue paper, nested at the front desk … and the hotel pen in my room, in a totally sealed plastic wrapper.


While some hotels still break apart your bill or the way they charge you, I’ve been seeing hotels with higher room rates that include breakfast and Wi-Fi.

I’ve also seen TV/Internet packages that I find unusual, for example in both Cannes and Geneva, at two different hotel chains, you had the choice of paying €50 a day (!!!) for a pay TV-inclusive deal. I guess this means all the dirty movies you want.

Read up on Suzy’s previous Paris adventures here.

Most hotels provide a complimentary bottle or two of mineral water while still charging you $3-$9 for taking a bottle from your minibar. Some hotels are also cutting away from CNN (it’s expensive for them) and offering CNBC, BBC or Sky for their Anglophone guests instead.

InterContinental Paris Avenue Marceau - Room interiorBreakfast buffets can now cost $30-$50 per person … but they are sumptuous events. The days of the Continental breakfast (even at the InterContinental Hotel, ha ha) are just about gone on the luxury hotel level. If you aren’t a breakfast person, don’t even come downstairs.


I checked into this hotel with my volcanic refugee grown children, having sent an email ahead of my arrival explaining that I was plus one (my room had been booked for two). When we got to the front desk, it turns out I knew the General Manager from another great hotel. He listened to the tale of woe, said he had no rooms big enough for three people, but he could give us two rooms! Sainthood will be his.

My point is that in the world of the hotel, the GM is king. He can make just about anything happen.

Get more expert advice, this time from Peter, with How to Get Better Deals on Hotels as well as the Best Time to Book Hotel Rooms.

Developing relationships with key managers can make or break the crunch times. And when one of “your” GMs is transferred, change hotels, or at least stay in touch.

InterContinental Paris Avenue Marceau - Room interior - Prestige roomA GM is somewhat like a hairdresser; he keeps a book. I know you and I love being taken care of by old friends. People should know that you don’t have to be on TV to be treated like a star.  I always write personal thank you notes to “my” GMs and sometimes bring small and silly gifts.


I’ve watched the price of a tip escalate all over Europe, especially when you have luggage and maybe a rental car and a staff who must help you with them. In countries where a service charge is added to a restaurant bill, I just leave a few extra euros depending on the bill.

Get the latest news and learn more about traveling in France & Belgium. Or get help for travel all over Europe.

But for those who must schlep luggage on and off trolleys, the tipping scale is not based on $1 a bag as it was in the old days, but a euro or two.

Lifting Luggage Means You've Gotta Give the TipTruth is, since the end of the 10-franc piece 10 years ago (standard tip in France), service people hope you will replace the 10-francs with a €2 coin, and that’s rounded up with the amount of luggage you have. It’s fairly difficult to check into a hotel these days without tipping €5 (about $7) to the bellman.


Speaking of my trusty rent-a-car, some hotels—even luxury hotels—do not charge for overnight parking. After paying €30 in Cannes per night and €23 in Lyon per night, imagine my shock and joy to find that the InterContinental Geneva did not charge for overnight parking. Nor did Sofitel La Cloche. This can end up paying for your dinner in savings.

Chintzy yet Trendy Kisses,

By Suzy Gershman for Suzy and her partner-in-shopping Sarah Lahey are hitting the road! Put on your kimono and join them on a shopping spree with the Born to Shop Japan tour, November 4-10, 2010, with an optional three-day add-on to Hong Kong. Plus, stay tuned for Suzy’s latest book, Born to Shop California Wine Country, available soon at Catch up on all their adventures at and

For more Paris travel ideas, check out: