Please Rate Accommodations

Jul 28th, 1999, 12:08 AM
  #1  
Rosemarie G. Vickers
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Please Rate Accommodations

My husband and I are going on a package tour to London, Paris, and Rome in September. This will be our first trip to Europe, so this is like an exploratory trip for us. Hopefully, we can go back on our own the next time. Although the tours' accommodations are classified as Superior Tourist and First Class hotels, we thought it would still be better to have them rated by someone who has already seen or is familiar with them. They are the following: The Paragon, in London; Ibis Cambronne Tour Eiffel, Paris; Ergife Palace, Rome. We will truly appreciate any information from anyone. Thank you.
 
Jul 28th, 1999, 12:15 AM
  #2  
joelle
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The Ibis Cambronne hotel in Paris is a two star hotel (i.e. tourist class). It is very basic (for American standards) but still OK.
 
Jul 28th, 1999, 12:50 AM
  #3  
Vincent
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I would confirm Joelle's assessment about your Paris hotel : very basic, typical 70s architecture, lots of groups. Expect standards between a Motel 6 and a Four Points/Courtyard. Location is nice, though.
 
Jul 28th, 1999, 06:17 AM
  #4  
Walter
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I haven't stayed at the Ergife Palace but I did a search. The hotel doesn't have a web site I could find but I did get some info. It's a 4* hotel located at Via Aurelia 619. An online map showed it I'd guess ~2mi (3km) WSW of St. Peters Sq. Which isn't centrally located but within economical taxi distance to/from the sites. HTH Regards, Walter
 
Jul 29th, 1999, 08:50 PM
  #5  
Rosemarie G. Vickers
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Thank you Joelle, Vincent, and Walter. It was very kind of you to help. We really appreciate it. Now, we know how the Paris and Rome accommodations are. Best wishes.
 
Jul 30th, 1999, 04:14 PM
  #6  
Christina
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These ratings are supposed to be official, in my experience, not just something the tour company makes up: the tour jargon is usually tourist=2 star; superior tourist=3 star; first class=4 star. Given the state of the Ibis Cambronne (and I don't know the others) which is officially a two-star (I think all Ibis' hotels are two star, actually) and nothing special, I would be leery of a tour group that has blatantly given false information that way. This is basically lying, unless they've qualified their statements by "most" of the hotels are superior tourist and higher; if so, I'd still be leery of them for doing so.
 
Jul 30th, 1999, 06:01 PM
  #7  
sallygee
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Hope that packager isn't EuropeExpress. We had some interesting dealings with them, and the "superior tourist" classification is a murky one indeed.

We just got back from a trip that was partially arranged by them and partially arranged by me on line. We did MUCH better with the things I set up myself than we did with EuropeExpress. They seemed specialize in setting you up either in a borderline place downtown or a "nice" place well out of the way.
 
Jul 31st, 1999, 02:07 AM
  #8  
Rosemarie G. Vickers
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It is so nice to hear from more and more people who are so willing to help us. Thank you all so much. The package is from Trafalgar's Cost Saver escorted budget tours. Fortunately, although we have decided which tour to take, we haven't paid for anything, yet. We are still ambivalent. On the one hand, we want to go on our own; on the other, because we only have 13 days and would like to see as much as we can, we also want to take the escorted tour. If we do decide to go on our own, we will appreciate suggestions on decent but affordable accommodations. Any feedback on trafalgar tours? Thanks again.
 
Jul 31st, 1999, 07:38 AM
  #9  
lynn
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Greetings -

Rosemarie, please do your trip planning yourself. Don't take a tour. I know it's probably a bit scary to go on your first trip without someone leading you by the hand but please consider skipping the tour.

In my experience, and many others I know, you will get so much more out of it if you plan it yourself and are able to spend as much time as you want where you want.

We here on the Fodors forum would be happy to help with questions and give you any information you need. We love helping "newbies" going to Europe!
 
Jul 31st, 1999, 07:57 AM
  #10  
Walter
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Rosemarie, Like Lynn I think you should consider going on your own. This tour package is 3 cities in 3 different countries in 13 days! That's a bit too much. If you want to take a tour I would suggest maybe just London & Paris or just an Italy tour (Rome,Florence,Venice) in 13days. HTH Regards, Walter
 
Jul 31st, 1999, 10:50 AM
  #11  
Robin
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I can understand the pull of the package tour for a first timer, but for the same money or less, you can put together a wonderful adventure yourselves. You said you're considering a 13 day package? Do consider trimming it down to the 2 easiest cities to visit for a first timer, London & Paris. I'd suggest flying into London first, spending 5 to 7 days there (depending on your interests & any sidetrips), then crossing the channel (you'll find lots of discussion on forum on taking the 'chunnel' across or an inexpensive flight) for the balance of your stay in/around Paris. And from Paris, you can fly back home.

Both London & Paris are great cities for walking or taking the subway ('tube' or 'metro') to get around. And even if you'd prefer to do a few organized tours, you can purchase individual daytrips to get an overview of each city. Also, I think you'll find that by 'doing it yourself', you can select a hotel more suited to your own needs (whether that be location or price or particular amenities or ambience) & likewise for restaurants. September is a good time for London & Paris - although always busy, a few less tourists than the madding crowds of summer & weather should be good.
 
Jul 31st, 1999, 01:34 PM
  #12  
Lori
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Rosemarie,
 
Jul 31st, 1999, 02:43 PM
  #13  
lori
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Rosemarie,
I lost my connection - - sorry for the partion message. I spent the last 10 minutes typing a response to your query only to lose it all!

My vote is against taking a tour - you can do it alone very easily and if you need any help this Forum is a great place and you can e-mail me directly if you want, I'd be happy to help you out. We've traveled to Europe many times and know London and Paris particularly well (my husband has relatives in Paris) as well as the countryside. We were just over in April again this year.

Not knowing your ages it is difficult to say that a tour is the worst thing possible, but unless there is a real reason to take one, don't! You will find yourself doing things you don't to and missing things you really want to see. Friends who have taken tours swear "never again". While we've been to these cities many times we still find lots of new things to do and enjoy not having to rush to any of them.

I'd suggest limiting yourself to two cities, probably London and Paris. Adding Rome makes it a bit of a rush with only 13 days. Remember travel eats up alot of time and unless you are fond of airports and train stations there are better ways to spend you time. Also remember jet lag the first day can be a factor so don't plan on seeing everything the first day. What I'd recommend is taking a 1/2 day sightseeing tour of each city and getting an overview, then going back to what interests you most. Also you can take a boat ride on the Thames or Seine for a good overview.

Public transportation in these cities is marvelous and easy to navigate on your own. The Underground sells passes for 1 day, 3 days or 7 days (or more) and I'd be happy to clue you in on how to get them. The Metro's best buy is a "carnet", a book of 10 tickets. As for transportation in and out of the cities (and I'm afraid this is why people take tours, they find out that it is included and don't want to hassle it themselves), it's easy. In London you can arrange a car/driver service for about 30 pounds ... I know there are many folks on this forum that advocate the Underground (not with luggage!) or the Express Train to Paddington Station and then a taxi, but if you figure out the costs for 2 people it is easier and less stressful to take a driver service and that's door to door. Don't take a regular cab tho, the meter runs while you sit in traffic and it can cost a great deal. We've used driver service pickup drop offs and were very pleased. Getting to Paris is a breeze too, you can fly over or take the Eurostar (and you can purchase tickets via their toll free number or via Internet). It takes 3 hours from Waterloo Station to Central Paris and from there a taxi to your hotel. If you fly you can make arrangements for the Shuttle (cheaper than a cab believe me) and they pick you up and drop you at your hotel. If you are intersted I can give you the numbers. We used them in April and they were fine. I would not recommend public transportation to first time travelers, particularly knowing you will have luggage.

As for hotels so many have websites now that it's hard to choose just one! If you are hesitant about dealing with any of them you can contact the Best Western Chain 800 number and ask for international. BW is affiliated with many hotels in Europe and they are NOT like BW motels in the U.S. They are independant hotels/inns and the majority are quite nice. We stated in several ranging from country inns and coaching inns to regular style in-town hotels. All were fine, in fact the one we just stayed at in Paris in April was right at the Trocadero with a view fo the Eiffel Tower from our room (small rooms tho!). Stay away from Ibis ... they are very bare-bones and insitutional in their furnishings, OK for a night but not a "vacation". We stayed in one near Euston Station in London one night and it was clean and staff friendly, but the room was almost prison-like in it's starkness. I've heard good things about the Travel Inns in London from people on this Forum too - they are more like an American Motel in design and the rooms are supposed to be comfortable but not elegant. They are new hotels and there is one next to Waterloo Station. Just remember most hotel rooms will be much smaller than what we are used to in the U.S., likewise beds! Unless a place can guarantee a king-size bed (practically an impossible item in most hotels I've been in) we opt for twin beds. A standard European double is a smallish bed.

Remember too a tour will not give you a great deal of free time to wander about and just goof off a bit. Sometimes just wandering in and out of stores is fun (you should not miss Harrod's by the way), I even enjoy going in grocery stores and seeing what is offered and prices. Sometimes a walk in the park is nice or having the luxury of not getting up early to catch a bus someplace.

Do think about doing it yourself, in the long run it will be very rewarding and a heck of a lot more fun than a tour bus! E-mail me if you want any specific info, I'd be glad to help.



 
Aug 1st, 1999, 08:16 AM
  #14  
kelly
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I'll never understand why people take group tours like these and stay in huge american-style hotels. Travelling in those coaches is like viewing the scenery from a plastic bubble. You never get a chance to experience any nuances of the places visited.
 
Aug 1st, 1999, 08:40 PM
  #15  
Rosemarie G. Vickers
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Thank you all for your very encouraging advice and moral support. I feel like a new member of a wonderful family here. Well, after much thought, my husband and I have finally decided to cut down our trip to either, London, or Paris and Rome, or just Italy. Our original plan, really, was just to go to Italy this year, then go to London and Paris next year. But, my best friend ( I haven't seen her in 12 years)is visiting her sister in Spain next year and asked if we could see each other there. So, My husband and I thought, we would try to kill three birds with one stone; see London, Paris, and Rome on this trip (so that we can concentrate on Spain next year). But, to do that in 13 days is really too tight. You are all right.

Thank you Lori for the extensive information. Yes, I will send you e-mail for the phone numbers.

Thank you, Lynn. You sound like a big sister. We will plan our trip partially, especially because of accommodations issue.

I will post a message again when my husband and I return from our trip. Will publish some photos on my homepage and I hope you will all visit it.

Incidentally, I have been reading the postings about Italy. A lot of horror stories. My brother lost his videocamera at the airport there a few years back.

Finally, thank you for your comment, Kelly.
 

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