Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Paris Trip Recap -- Hilton Le Defense Review

The Hotel Jeanne d'Arc wasn't available our entire visit in Paris, so we opted to cash in some points and stay at the Hilton Le Defense -- in the business district of Paris.  Paris is so expertly planned and when they needed to build the business district, they didn't tear down old classical buildings (like so many Cities did) they pushed the new high rises out into the near suburb area.

We didn't do a whole lot of research on the hotel or the area.  We erroneously figured this area would have many things to do and would be like the other neighborhoods we visited.  Nope.  It's actually a lot like the Loop in Chicago -- quiet/dead after business hours and not a hell of a lot to do after hours.  The price was right though.

 We transferred to the hotel around 4pm and after standing at street level for a few minutes we finally found the hotel sign. Yet again we were lost/confused by the obvious.  At least we are consistent. We proceeded to check in and were greeted by a cold front desk employee.  Since we were using points (from MS' account) I pulled out my Gold Elite card and asked if we could get access to the Gold Benefits.  The gentleman informed me that we couldn't change accounts at this point and when I reminded him that we didn't want to earn or redeem points on my card, just get access to Elite benefits (which I've been able to do two times in the past 6 weeks).  He kindly (hmmm, make that rudely) reminded me that Hilton Elite Benefits are a privilege and not a right -- which I do understand.  He told us they were one of the smallest Hilton's on the planet and they choose not to offer any Elite Benefits.  I then asked if they could help us make reservations if I gave them some options we were interested in.  They agreed.

Fine.

This Hilton is in a shopping mail/train station.  We were offered an upgraded room (for 25€), this room would have a window that looked outside of the building, as opposed to the interior of the mall.  We opted to save our $US37.50 and take an internal room.

Linens? We don't need no stinking linens...
We head on up to our second floor room.  The room was large but laid out extremely poorly.  The bed also had no pillows, blanket or duvet.  This obviously wasn't going to work. I pick up the phone on the nightstand -- it doesn't work.  I walk over to the desk and realize there is no way I can walk between the desk and the bed.  Luckily this phone worked.

I called downstairs to explain the issues and the woman at the front desk suggested we leave our room for a while and they will send someone up to make up our room.  No, this isn't acceptable.  The other alternative was to schlep our suitcases back down and talk to another person and find another room.  That option is not ideal either.  I suggested someone meet us at our current room with keys to our new room and walk us to our new room.  They quickly agreed to this -- shocking, I know, considering the front desk interaction earlier.

Tight Fit Between Bed/Desk
The gentleman who assisted us at initial check in was in our room in less than 3 minutes - surprising again.  He escorted us to a new room with a same layout (and another room with a view of the interior of the mall), but this room had bed linens, working phones and enough space between the bed and the desk to make it useful.

I decided to take a shower while MS went out to get some water and check out the music selection at the mall our room looked out upon.  I grabbed a wash cloth and found a dingy black dirt stain.  Lovely.  I used an alternate wash cloth, shaved and showered.

No Room Between Desk/Bed
MS returned and we had a list of three restaurants we wanted to try for our final night in Paris.  I called the front desk and asked for reservation assistance .  Two of the three restaurants were closed but we were able to get into the third option.  It was nice to have someone help us with reservations.

We were shocked when we received our bill and we were charged 9€ for the three phone calls we asked them to make.  Perhaps it is my naivete, but asking for a simple concierge service we shouldn't be charged $US14.  I asked about this when I left, but they wouldn't speak to me about it since my name wasn't on the reservation.  Lovely.  When MS left he had a long discussion with the front desk folks and they did agree to remove this charge.

Filthly Wash Cloth
I emailed the hotel twice to find a resolution to the poor service, the initial bad room and the inappropriate phone charges and I have heard nothing from the hotel.

I am a new Hilton Gold member -- a partnership with United granted Premier Exec members Gold Status until 2013.  I had never stayed in a Hilton before, but had a really great experience in Toronto and every interaction with customer service has been top notch.  For example, two weeks after my stay in Toronto my points hadn't been credited to my account, I tweeted my concern at the delay and within 20 minutes everything was taken care of.  Although my experience with Hilton customer service has been limited they have been fantastic (except for this whole Paris experience).
Dirty/Dingy Hallway Walls

I must admit, I will never stay at the Hilton Le Defense again.  I will definitely stay at a Hilton in the US again though -- and am not opposed to staying at another international Hilton again.

When traveling abroad do you choose to stay with American chains or local hotels?  How do you deal with customer service issues at hotels: email, letter, phone call or online reviews?  Have you had the great service, I've traditionally had at Hilton?  Are you enjoying the Premier Executive Gold Status with Hilton (I know I appreciate it and am enjoying my stays).

UPDATE:  I wrote this post on Tuesday (9/27) and forwarded a link to the US Hilton twitter folks -- who have always been beyond helpful with any question I have.  They responded almost immediately asking for some stay details and forwarded the issues on to the hotel manager who would reach out to us.  Well, the hotel still hasn't gotten back to me.  I did receive a nice email from Mr. Hall who is a Guest Assistance Specialist apologizing for the lack of response from the hotel.  Again, I have to say, I've been extremely happy with the customer service I receive in North America and have only had one non-North America experience (this one) which was very subpar.  Will I continue to visit Hiltons in the future, yes.  Will I stay at a Hilton in Paris, yes...Le Defense, probably not.  Kudos to the US costomer service folks -- thank you for all help.

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