Last time I arrived in Paris, the city of light and love, it was horrible. After a great train ride from Amsterdam, and looking forward to a few relaxing days in Paris I arrived at the wrong hotel. There turned out to be two hotels, with exactly the same name. Thanks, Expedia. Travel gone wrong. The first one, where I showed up, met all the expectations – just as the reviews and online pictures had suggested. The other one, the one I apparently had booked, did not – by any means. It was a dump, to put it nicely. Registration didn’t even involve checking identification, which is more or less an industry standard at this point. It made me wonder what this hotel was used for mostly. They probably had an unadvertised hourly rate, too.
The room was nothing short of the looks and smells of a brothel. Nothing like the love and light I expected of Paris. We left within five minutes – lost and confused like in a bad love affair. Paris will do that to you. I was tired and had no idea where to go next. All hotels in the area seemed fully booked, and those with a room or two available charged upwards of a thousand dollars (or sometimes euros, even worse) a night.
After two hours or roaming the streets, and evening being questioned by the French Police (to make sure I was doing ok?) we made it to the Champs Elysees where we found a room for “only” $300 a night. I collapsed when I made it up to the room, excited to finally have a place to rest my jet-lagged head. Frustrated at the same time as to me, this is not what travel is supposed to be about.
The evening ended with a nice dinner – and not a lot of sleep, despite the expensive room. I’ve had some interesting experiences before exploring the world, but this was the first time where I needed to call in for support and secure alternate travel arrangements from my amazing travel agent back home. I never imagined Paris could be scary place – but when the sun starts to set and you have no place to sleep, things can change quickly.
Without prepaid accommodations, I learned the expensive lesson of having to leave a hotel simply because I didn’t feel safe. I learned to stick to my values and principles, even when traveling. Selecting nice hotels really does add to the Experience Value of travel. My goal became working with travel designers and sites that offer a small selection of curated hotels. In my Travel Hacking class I show you exactly how I go about booking the finest hotels in the world, but right here on my blog you can also find a wealth of travel links and resources. Check them out and use them to your advantage – so you can enjoy your trip instead of worrying about logistics.
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