Last month we went away for the weekend and spent Valentine’s Day in Paris. Valentine’s Day happened to land on the Sunday of Presidents’ Day weekend this year. Though we typically don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, the long weekend was all the excuse we needed to take another weekend vacation trip.
For this trip I spent 80,000 American Airline miles and $162.80 in taxes/fees for the flights both my fiancé and me. I spent 12,000 Starwood Points and redeemed an earned free night to cover the hotel nights.
How I got the flights
Valentine’s Day/Presidents’ Day weekend is generally not a good weekend to redeem for award travel but you can sometimes get lucky. Since I was sitting on some American Airline miles, I decided to check popular routes on which they have good availability. I found flights round-trip to London; however, there is a required tax for flights leaving the United Kingdom based on the distance of your departing flight–which can be quite costly.
$176.46 in taxes and fees per person for award tickets departing from the UK!
One way to mitigate this is to fly to another nearby European city and then fly back from there. I found flight availability back to New York out of Paris and I had also wanted to experience riding the Eurostar train from London to Paris. The flights worked out perfectly with us leaving Friday evening and returning Monday afternoon.
How I got the hotels
I redeemed 12,000 Starpoints for my stay in London at the Great Northern Hotel which would have been $320 for the date I stayed. Starwood is upping the amount of points required for a stay here starting in March. The hotel is also right in St. Pancras station which is where I would take the Eurostar train to Paris the next day.
Located between St. Pancras and King's Cross stations.
The hotel is part of the Starwood hotel chain’s Tribute portfolio. The tribute portfolio features unique independent hotels and currently features only 6 hotels with more to come in the future. I was thoroughly impressed with the hotel and would recommend a stay here for anyone in the area.
We stayed in one of the Wainscot rooms in the eaves of the hotel. This room is actually bigger than a typical London hotel room.
The Great Northern Hotel seemed like something plucked out of a Wes Anderson movie. There is a quaint charm to the hotel and the rooms are exceptionally designed. There is a lot of design detail in the rooms that I’d love to bring back and use at my place.
Room No. 522. - Please do not disturb.
In Paris, we stayed the Le Meridien Etoile which isn’t too central to the touristy areas but is within walking distance of the Arc de Triumph. We stayed here using a free night award earned by staying twice at Starwood hotels. I earned the free night from my Christmas trip to Bangkok last year. It would have cost $175 for us to stay here otherwise.
The room was clean but didn’t feature any modern amenities such as charging ports or even easily accessible outlets on the desk. The hallways had tools and vacuum cleaners strewn about. The walls of the hallways looked very worn out with visible scratch and scruff marks. There was also for some reason an ironing board left next to my door for most of my stay.
The Eurostar train
We took the high speed Eurostar train which hits speeds of 186mph and gets you from St. Pancras station in London to Gare du Nord station in Paris in only a few hours. The tickets were $87 a person for a regular seat in coach. I’ll write about the Eurostar train and the lounge at St. Pancras in a separate upcoming post.
A few photos from our trip