Disneyland Parisby Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 07-01-2010
I don't know about you, but I certainly enjoy a bit of luxury whenever I'm away on vacation. Part of my love of luxury comes from experiencing the Deluxe resorts that Walt Disney World Resort offers. When we decided that we'd be heading back to France for our fifth visit to the Disneyland Paris Resort, I instantly knew that I wanted to enjoy a touch of luxury there. There's one important thing that you need to know about the resorts at Disneyland Paris. Despite the ratings they’re given in travel brochures, sadly the majority of the Disney resorts aren’t on a par with the deluxe hotels at Disney’s Orlando resort.
Disneyland Paris - Disneyland Hotel
The Disneyland Hotel at night.
We stayed a few years ago at the Newport Bay Club, which is a very similar design from the outside to our beloved Beach Club at Walt Disney World. Although it looks almost the same from a distance, it's when you get inside, and particularly into the rooms, that you realise that they're actually very different Unfortunately, although the size of the rooms at the Newport Bay wasn’t bad, we immediately felt as if they needed some money spent on them, and they just didn’t have the same luxurious feel as their Beach Club counterparts.
I’d always wondered about the Disneyland Hotel, which stands right at the entrance to the Disneyland Park itself, but having priced it out a few times, I knew that it was well out of our budget. We’d looked previously at a one-night stay there and the cheapest rate we could find was £700 (about $1000), which was just crazy, so we opted to use some of our Disney Vacation Club points instead for a two-night stay there.
Our stay was at the end of a road trip around Northern France and, as we headed to Disneyland Paris, I was curious to drive into the Disneyland Hotel, as it had always been something of an enigma to me. When you enter the Disneyland Park, Paris’ equivalent of the Magic Kingdom, you have to walk under the Disneyland Hotel, but in all the times we had visited, I had never managed to work out how to actually get into the hotel.
As we drove up, it was a curious entrance. We were waved through by the security guard, which we weren';t expecting at all, then we passed a roundabout featuring a topiary of one of the hippos from Fantasia. Next, we passed by one of the giant parking lots for the parks, which was a little surreal, before finally pulling up at the entrance to this beautiful place. To describe it, it's easiest to think of the Grand Floridian, but just color it a lovely pale pink instead. It's this design that the Tokyo Disney Resort has now taken for its Disneyland Hotel as well.
The turrets that you find on the Grand Floridian are evident in the design and, as you walk into the lobby, you see more similarities. The ceiling is high above you, with chandeliers lighting your way, along with lots of large windows, allowing huge amounts of natural light into the room. The reception itself isn’t as grand perhaps and comes across as being more family friendly, with models of some favourite Disney characters and villains on show in cases scattered throughout the lobby. There are plenty of seating areas for families to relax and enjoy, with check-in located on one side and concierge on the other.
Your eye instantly goes to the grand staircase at the back of the reception, which leads up to floors two and above. Our room was located on the reception side of the hotel. It’s an odd layout for a hotel, but necessary, given that underneath are guests entering the park each day and night. As a result, it's floor two that links the two sides of this resort and that’s where you'll find the hotel's two restaurants, Inventions, which is a more casual, buffet setting, and the California Grill. It's a more upscale restaurant, although the feel and food there is very different to the restaurant it shares its name with in Orlando.
Here is also where you’ll find the resort's lounge, decorated in a musical theme, and its shop, although we were disappointed by the selection of merchandise on offer there. Want something to show you actually stayed at the resort? That's not going to happen, as there's no Disneyland Hotel merchandise to be seen.
Carry on walking across floor two and you come to the other side of the resort, with its own bank of elevators. Take them to the ground floor and there you’ll find the recreation centre, complete with swimming pool, which was surprisingly tiny. The information book in our room told us that it could only take a maximum of 77 people, while the hotel has nearly 500 rooms! Nearby the pool is the spa, offering a range of beauty treatments, and the children’s club, which unusually, is only open for a few hours in the afternoon.
For us, the trek to the pool from our room, on the other side of the resort, was far too long to make a swim worthwhile. Having said that, we couldn't fault our room in any other respect. When we walked in, we were immediately impressed with the size of it, although closer examination of the floor layout showed that we had got one of the larger rooms on the corridor, which was a pleasant surprise.
The decor here is very reminiscent of the Disneyland Hotel in California, with little touches of Disney to be found everywhere from the bedspreads to the frame of the mirror in the bathroom, featuring Snow White and her seven dwarfs. The colour scheme is mainly pale greens and pinks, which is very relaxing. The facilities in the rooms are excellent, as you’d expect from such a highly-priced hotel, although we were a little surprised not to have a better selection of English-speaking TV channels. The only options were the Disney Channel and two news channels, and there did seem to be a wider range on offer for speakers of languages other than French (and English).
Despite that, we spent a lot of time in our room, just relaxing, as this was supposed to be a relaxing trip, even if it was Disney! Having dressing gowns in the room was a lovely bonus and it was the little touches like this, and the nightly turndown service, that helped to make our stay.
By the real selling point here is the location. We were literally able to stumble out of the hotel, walk a few paces and enter the Disneyland Park, while Walt Disney Studios Park was less than five minutes’ walk away. We came away saying that we were now truly spoilt and could not see ourselves staying anywhere else. Not having a long walk or a bus ride at the end of a hard day touring the parks is a superb benefit, although we were still very glad to have used our DVC points. Staying here is a wonderfully luxurious option, but sadly it’s also a very expensive one.
Updated 07-01-2010 - Article #493
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