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Pay What You Want at Hotels in Paris

Pay whatever you want for your stay in Paris? C’est vrais!

A Paris hotels group is running an unusual promotion, allowing guests to pay what they want for accommodations in the city this summer. According to a French-language online post on a site called “Payez ce que vous voulez” (that means “pay what you want”), five Parisian hotels are participating in a scheme that gives hotel guests the freedom to determine their own nightly rates.

The participating hotels are mid-priced properties located in a variety of neighborhoods. They include Plaza Opera Hotel, Villa Opera Lamartine, Villa Boheme, and Hotel Tour d’Avergne in the 9th arrondissement of Paris; and the French Grand Hotel, located at Place de la Nation near the 11th and 12th arrondissements. I tested standard prices for a one-night midweek stay at Plaza Opera Hotel in September, and found rates at around $200 nightly.

You suspect there is a catch here, don’t you. You’re right. The deal is valid for stays for just a few weeks, starting immediately: between July 21 and August 10. If you’re traveling to Paris, um, this week, then you most likely have already secured lodging. This is a very last-minute deal, to be sure.

Furthermore, the offer is based on availability, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually get a room for the pay-what-you-want price. According to the hotel group’s website, the deal is “subject to availability of rooms,” and there’s no telling exactly how many rooms were set aside at each property for the pay-what-you-want promotion. You can only book one night at the special rate, and you must reserve your stay through the Payez ce que vous voulez site, which is entirely in French. (I opened the site with Chrome and selected the “Translate to English” option.)

Of course, if you do get the deal and you only pay a euro or two for your stay, you’ll probably feel like an ass. As you should. If I were to grab one of these rooms, I’d likely pay only slightly less than the standard rate for a night’s stay, unless something went terribly wrong. But given good service and a satisfactory experience, I wouldn’t feel comfortable gaming the system and short-changing a small business simply because they said I could.

How much would you pay if called upon to choose your own rate?

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