This is my review of the Le Meridien Etoile Paris hotel.
Last November I wrote an article on how I used Hyatt’s impressive ‘6000 points per night for a suite upgrade’ feature at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile. This is the high rise hotel at Le Palais des Congrès de Paris, which is situated between the Arc de Triomphe and the office district of La Defence.
I stayed at the Hyatt because I had a good Amex cashback offer and this is the only reasonably priced Hyatt option in Paris.
Six months later I found myself looking for the most reasonably priced Marriott option in Paris …. and I found myself back at Le Palais des Congrès, at Le Meridien Etoile Paris.
If you have the Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card, one of the benefits is a free night voucher worth 25,000 Bonvoy points if you spend £25,000 in a card year.
This is not a hugely enticing bonus. I value a Marriott Bonvoy point at 0.5p so you’d only be getting a free room worth around £125 for spending £25,000. The only reason I triggered it is that I did a few expensive Marriott hotel stays last year, paid on the card, which got me close enough to £25,000 to make it worthwhile pushing on.
What hotels can you get for £125 in Summer 2022?
Nothing. It’s that simple.
If you have a 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy points voucher and were hoping to get a room in a major European city during the peak Summer season, you are very likely to be disappointed.
Luckily, Marriott changed the rules of its free night vouchers this year. You can now top them up by a maximum of 15,000 points from your Marriott Bonvoy account.
Obviously it would be better if you could top them up by an unlimited amount, but beggars can’t be choosers.
With the top up, I could stretch up to 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. As it happened, Le Meridien Etoile Paris just squeezed in at 39,000 points so I booked.
The good news is that I got some value from my Marriott Bonvoy American Express free night voucher before it expired, thanks to the new top up mechanism.
The bad news is that capping the top up at 15,000 points is arbitrary and, in the current hot hotel market, not as helpful as it could be.
A quick review of Le Meridien Etoile Paris hotel
As I did stay at the hotel for the night, I’ll give you a quick rundown.
The bottom line is that it’s fine. Nothing more, nothing less. For a hotel with over 1,000 rooms it isn’t as cavernous as it could be, which is good.
I can’t complain as my luck was in. I managed to use a Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Award (you get five of these for hitting 50 nights per year, and another five at 75 nights) to upgrade to a suite.
As I have Titanium status in Bonvoy, I also got free access to the hotel lounge. It could have been worse.
Le Meridien Etoile Paris is situated between the Arc de Triomphe and La Defence. Porte Maillot, Line 1, is the nearest Metro station but Line 3 (Porte de Champerret) is around 10 minutes walk and more convenient for some places.
The hotel was built in 1972 and looks it. However, my room looked across the street into a typical Parisian apartment building, which gave it a homely feel:
Of course, the person living in that apartment was looking into a 1970’s concrete block …..
The hotel has had a huge refurbishment in recent years but the public areas were better treated than the rooms. There is a PR image of the new lobby above.
Whilst the beds etc are clearly new, there are obvious signs of wear. Most dangerous was a plug socket which was no longer properly attached to the wall and which meant the floor light no longer worked.
(It’s worth noting that the photos here are a little flattering, now that I see them. All of that grey hides a lot of sins.)
Like my ‘suite’ at the Hyatt opposite in November, what I received was actually two rooms converted into a suite with a connecting door between them. Weirdly, the headboard for the bed in the living room was still there, with a sofa pushed against it.
Possibly as a cost saving measure, the window in the living area was not sound proofed, but the one in the bedroom was. (It’s possible that this is why the room was turned into a suite in the first place.) With the connecting door closed there was no noise in the bedroom despite the loud bar nearby.
The real problem with this hotel is excessive use of grey. Grey corridors, grey rooms. Why? It adds nothing, feels depressing and makes the rooms seem smaller.
There were other weird things here:
- because the suite consisted of two merged rooms, you needed to put a room key in two different sockets, one by each door (yes, the suite had two doors, and two bathrooms, and two toilets) to get all of the lights to come on
- the loo was totally separate to the bathroom – whilst fine in theory, it was so narrow and so grey that it felt ….. weird
- the bathroom cups were plastic and came wrapped in plastic bags, like a cheap US motel
- whilst the suite had a coffee machine (a brand I had never seen before with a weird operating system), the bedroom only had a kettle and instant coffee – I am guessing normal rooms only get the kettle
- you were expected to make your drinks in a paper cup and no spoons were provided – the only thing I could find to stir my drink with was the end of my toothbrush
- the clock by the bed had not been adjusted for Summer time
Breakfast and the lounge
Despite all this, I should stress that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this hotel and it is as decent as 1,000 room mid-market hotels can be.
Breakfast, for example, was a fairly decent spread. The only problem was the cavernous room in which it was served, which felt like a huge school cafeteria:
The executive lounge was well decorated, with views over the internal garden:
The lounge was on the 8th floor before the refurbishment. Unfortunately at least one of the lifts still has a sign in it saying this, and as no-one told me where the lounge was, I followed the sign. With over 100 bedrooms per floor it took me a while to confirm that it wasn’t on the 8th.
There was very little food in the lounge – just random dips and cake – but it was ok for a snack and to get a coffee to take up to my room:
There are at least five Tesco Express-style grocery stores in the short walk between the metro and the hotel if you want to buy something and plenty of local restaurants in the vicinity.
I won’t be rushing back to Le Meridien Paris Etoile but neither would I throw my toys out of the pram if I had to stay here for any reason. I marginally prefer the Hyatt Regency across the road, but only because I found the executive lounge more pleasant and the views from the higher floors impressive.
My biggest gripe was this hotel had no real focus. It told me nothing about Le Meridien as a brand and it certainly wouldn’t actively encourage me to stay in another one. If it had been branded as a Courtyard it would have been better positioned.
Overall, though, I was pleased that I finally found a decent use for my 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy points voucher from my Bonvoy American Express card before it expired.
The website for Le Meridien Etoile Paris is here. Pricing is all over the place, driven purely by whether any major events are taking place across the road at Le Palais des Congrès. It is likely to be the cheapest full service Bonvoy property in Paris if nothing is on.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (August 2022)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus Amex points)
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)