INDEPENDENT
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The iHi INDEPENDENT HOTEL DIRECTORY - 2015

Good small hotels  

- a selection of Independent hotels with character 

Hotel-independent
 

The Small hotel experience: discover the diversity of France.

France is a large country; and while hotels belonging to the main chains are liable to be virtually identical from Calais to Carcassonne and from Strasbourg to Brest – with perhaps a few token gestures to regional traditions – small independent hotels, specially rural hotels,  are much more likely to be places that reflect local styles, local traditions and local cuisine. Small hotels in Brittany are Breton, and often run by Bretons; small hotels in Alsace are very different, more similar to those in Germany on the other side of the Rhine, than to those on the other side of France, or even to the kind of small independent hotels you find in the Loire Valley or the mountains of central France. As for the south of France, small hotels in Provence and Languedoc generally have all the flavour of their Mediterranean areas. In brief, the independent hotel experience is something that is anchored in "le terroir", the essential lifestyle and traditions of the French regions.

USEFUL LINKS
Tourist guide to France
Gites in France
Driving in France
France camping and campsites guide


Going further:

Guide to the regions of France

Small hotels in FRANCE

From budget hotels to boutique hotels – even château hotels – enjoy the real France, discover a careully selected choice of small hotels in France with character and a friendly welcome.    
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French hotels

A totally independent selection of good small hotels throughout France

Areas of FranceParis areaLoire Valley, PoitouBurgundyRiviera ProvenceSouth of France - LanguedocRhone Alps areaMidi Pyrenees RegionAuvergne, Limousin, Massif CentralCharentes, AquitaineEast France Alsace Lorraine Franche ComteNorth East FranceNormandyBrittany

A carefully chosen independent customer-led selection of attractive small hotels in France

This is not just a directory of "boutique hotels" -  in the meaning of  small, chic and expensive establishments. The iHi selection covers a broad range of small hotels, from excellent good value boutique hotels to simple unpretentious hotels, where you can get a double room for under 50 € a night.  
     Many - indeed perhaps most - of the small French hotels listed with iHi are family-run establishments ; and when it's the hotel owner who welcomes guests to his own hotel, he - or she - will normally do it well, and ensure that guests enjoy their stay. Running a small hotel is a way of life;  it's personal; and this is part of the reason why independent small hotels are a diffrerent experience from larger and often faceless chain hotels, run by managers and staff who ultimately are just employees doing a job.
    The directory includes hotels with swimmingpools and saunas, even libraries; and others without any such luxuries. Most of the small hotels chosen for listing with iHi have restaurants, some do not. Some have been chosen for their environmental commitment. But all are hotels with character that are well recommended by guests.

Trying to find and book the right hotel for your stay or an overnight stop in France can be a daunting task.
The total number of hotels in France in 2009 was 17,721 – and in addition to that, there are thousands of Bed and Breakfasts, gites or other forms of tourist accommodation.
   In fact, the large majority of hotels in France are small independent hotels, however surprising this may seem. The trouble is that the big hotel chains have a vastly superior presence when it comes to advertising, and they also tend to site their properties in strategic and visible locations. Conversely, most independent small hotels are in less eye-catching locations,  few have the budget to do massive advertising, so finding them and realising how many of them there actually are, can be a hard task.
 
This hotel selection is quite independent : unlike many other directories, hotels cannot just pay to be listed or featured with Independent-hotels.info. iHi France lists only small hotels that meet a range of quality and price criteria, good quality good value hotels for independent and discerning travellers.

The iHi criteria:

  • Location: iHi has sought out wherever possible small hotels in attractive locations, away from noisy main roads. There are hotels in rural France,  in small French towns, and even  in or around French cities; for hotels in urban locations, iHi gives priority to hotels in quiet quarters, on side streets or on roads with little night-time traffic.
  • Character: most of the small hotels listed in the iHi independent hotel directory are in period or traditional buildings, converted farms or chateaux, old coaching inns, or classic town houses in regional style. A few modern hotels are included, when these are the best options available for a given location or area.
  • Welcome: iHi editors have read through thousands of hotel reviews, to include only hotels where many travellers have reported friendly, helpful and welcoming staff.
  • Value: iHi has selected hotels offering good value for money. Good value hotels are not necessarily cheap hotels; they are hotels whose prices are competitive or low compared to other hotels of similar standing in the same area. Some - a few - of the hotels listed in this directory are cheap - but travellers wanting essentially to book cheap hotels should realise that cheapness usually comes at a price....  And that the price of cheapness is either poor quality, small rooms, characterless hotels, or other downsides that will ensure that a hotel is not listed with iHi.
More information on our FAQs page

To be listed on iHi France, a hotel must rank well on at least three of the four above criteria.
To book rooms, you will be directed either to a booking portal offering the best rates avaialble, or in some cases directly to the hotel's own website. While most hotels now use booking portals, some do not - but this is not a reason to be excluded from the iHi directory if criteria are met.

French hotel classification - The official hotel star rating:

(Revised in 2009)  Hotels range from five-star to one-star; there are also unclassified hotels and upscale B&Bs. In the French hotel ranking system, stars are awarded essentially  in function of the amenities and services provided, not the state or nature of those amenities, so are not always the best reflection of a hotel's quality . The new system introduced in 2009 has gone some way towards correcting this, but even so the system still leaves a fair number of hotels over-classed, and others underrated, specially in the two-star to three-star categories. For more details, see below.

Other countries Small hotels in Spain Small hotels in Britain
Small hotels in Italy

Types of small hotel and guest accommodation in France.

As in other countries, guest accommodation in France comes in different forms. While hotels provide the lion's share of the market, other guest accommodation is avaialble in the form of gites (holiday cottages), Bed and Breakfast, and other forms of collective accommodation such as Villages de vacances. The word "pension", meaning lodging house or guest house, has more or less fallen out of usage.
  To be classified as a hotel and eligible for a star ranking, a hotel in France must have at least seven rooms. Smaller establishments, most of them independent, can be defined as "hotels non classés" or as "chambres d'hôtes" (B&Bs); voluntary schemes for classification of these exist, but many owners do not bother as the schemes are costly and the advantages unproven.
 For similar reasons, some hotels prefer not to apply for the maximum number of stars to which they are entitled, judging that the costs incurred by the additional star are not likely to be offset by greater occupancy and more income – which in a way makes a nonsense of the whole idea of classification. However, this is a phenomenon specific to independent hotels, and notably to small independent hotels, not to the French hotel industry in general.

Boutique hotels and more:

While the term "boutique hotels" is usually applied to rather chic small city hotels with character,  normally with at least three stars, the iHi directory includes plenty of two-star hotels offering similar qualities in a simpler and less expensive form – boutique hotels at more affordable rates.

Free hotel listings with iHi - strictly for independent hotels 
Recommend a good and calm independent hotel in France, Spain, Italy or the UK.
If you run or have stayed in a small independent hotel that you think ought to be in this directory, contact iHi with details. 
iHi welcomes suggestions from travellers and hotel owners.
Maximum size (discretionary) : 40 rooms. City hotels: acceptable up to 75 rooms. No chains. Only independent establishments or hotels belonging to very small independent chains. Membership of a voluntary chain or independent hotels, such as Logis de France or Inter Hotels,  is no problem.
Hôteliers: Inscrire un hôtel indépendant à iHi :
Consultez nos conditions d'inscription d'hôtels indépendants.

Ne soumettre que des établissements indépendants, bénéficiant d'un cadre calme et agréable. L'annuaire iHi - France accepte des établissements indépendants appartenant à des chaînes d'indépendants, comme Logis de France. 
 - Contact - email    ihi "at" independent-hotels.info