For travelers, the fear of Paris Syndrome is worse than the fear of malaria. Malaria, at least, clears after two weeks, and all you will have lost are your vacation days. Paris Syndrome preys upon the thing travelers hold dearest: high expectations. You won’t find the condition in an official medical handbook, but Paris Syndrome is basically a sense of extreme disappointment suffered by those who visit Paris for the first time, only to find that the city isn’t as enchanting, as romantic, as they expected. Having seen Midnight in Paris at least 25 times, I was more prone to Paris Syndrome than most when I visited the city for my first time. Luckily, Paris lived up to the hype – and that’s largely thanks to Maison Colbert, a Meliá Collection hotel in the lively Latin Quarter.
There are certainly plenty of ways a trip to Paris could disappoint. Go to the wrong restaurants. Base yourself in an inconvenient location. Eat fewer than three croissants for breakfast. Maison Colbert managed to help me avoid all these mistakes. With just 39 rooms, the Melia Collection’s smallest property is exactly what you’d want a boutique Parisian hotel to feel like. Housed in a 16th-century building on the Left Bank, with front-row views of Notre Dame, Maison Colbert doesn’t need to try very hard to hit those classic Parisian notes and wash away your Paris Syndrome fears.
Hotel Maison Colbert in 📍Paris
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Despite its intimate atmosphere, the hotel is nonetheless located right in the heart of the city, just a few minutes’ walk from the Pantheon, Boulevard Saint-Germain, the Louvre, Ile Saint Louis, Luxembourg Gardens, and Châtelet Theatre. Cross the hotel courtyard and round the corner, and you’ll find yourself in the heart of the Latin Quarter. No matter your expectations, it’d be tough for this neighborhood to fall short of them, since the cafes and brasseries lining the streets will remind you of every film and photo you’ve seen of Paris.
Choosing where to eat might be your biggest frustration in Paris, simply because the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. If you’re only after a cappuccino and Aperol spritz, you don’t need to be too picky. But for traditional French cuisine that gives your palate what it’s been salivating for since you boarded the plane, you’re in luck – some of Paris’ best restaurants are just a few blocks away from Maison Colbert.
If you can’t decide where to go, the hotel’s friendly staff will be more than happy to point you toward their personal favorites. Just a short walk across the river, Le Train Bleu is as famous for its opulent decor as it is for its steak tartare. Housed in the Gare de Lyon train station, the palatial restaurant is covered in murals and gilded walls, paneling, and chandeliers. It’ll make you forget you’re in the 21st century, no less a train station. But you don’t even have to venture from the hotel for a good Parisian meal. Cafe Clotilde at Maison Colbert serves a breakfast buffet, lunch buffet of small tasting plates, all the French bread you could possibly dream off, and an a la carte menu — all of which can be enjoyed in the hotel’s intimate courtyard.
Indeed, staff at Meliá hotels are renowned for their hospitality, but they came through with more than just restaurant recommendations. When one of my friends returned from a night out at 1 AM and realized she’d lost her phone, the maître d’ kindly called her Uber driver and the manager of the bar she had just left (neither of whom spoke English) to help track it down. It sounds like a small gesture, but in a cultural milieu that Americans tend to perceive as stuffy and judgmental, the act went a long way toward dashing those preconceptions. Even though we didn’t speak the language, even though my friend had made a classically American blunder by drunkenly leaving her phone at a bar, everyone from the maître d’ to the bar manager reacted with grace.
My first-time Paris experience can be encapsulated by a small independent bookshop called Shakespeare & Company, just a two-minute walk from Maison Colbert. I’d learned about this famous bookshop a long time ago, a place where readers and writers have gathered for decades; a place known for its collection of rare old books, and whose narrow corridors and cozy reading rooms look like something out of a whimsical Disney movie. I was, undeniably, afraid of being let down, and to be honest, expected I would be. There was a line outside. I waited sourly, hoping it’d be worth it, that I wasn’t just an idiot waiting in line for yet another tourist attraction that would fall short of the hype. As you might have guessed, the place didn’t disappoint. Bibliophiles know the almost euphoric feeling of being embraced by dusty bookshelves, of losing yourself in a quiet corner in an old book that hasn’t been touched in a generation. That’s Shakespeare & Company. And that’s Paris.
You’ll probably wait in line. You’ll never stroll the Rue Saint-Dominique toward the Eiffel Tower in peaceful solitude, as you might have seen in movies or on Instagram. You’ll share Paris with other people, all trying to smell the leather, trace the exquisite cover, and flip through the pages of a city that’s so worth the wait, it may even make us sick.