In Review: Okko Hotel Paris Gare de L’Est

Okko Hotels Paris Gare de l'Est has 170 rooms, all designed in a sleek contemporary style-- but standard rooms are rather small. Okko Hotels group

Approaching the starkly contemporary complex in concrete, metal and glass that houses the Okko Hotel Paris Gare de l’Est, you’d be forgiven for confusing it for an industrial train depot-turned-hip nightclub, or perhaps the headquarters of a new tech startup. Literally overlooking a twisted network of train tracks emerging from behind the busy Gare de l’Est, the four-star hotel is, to say the least, a convenient place to stay if you alight at that station. It almost feels like part of the station, which is either interesting or unappealing, depending on your perspective.

While this hotel boasts an interesting design concept (in theory), the execution is sadly far from optimal when it comes to functionality, ergonomics and comfort. As I detail in what follows, this hotel doesn’t, in my humble opinion, offer especially good value for money– unless you value bourgeois-bohemian design details above all other criteria.

Read on to find out why I would only genuinely recommend this 4-star hotel to solo travelers or executives with steep budgets– especially those who enjoy spending lots of time in well-appointed bar and lounge areas, perhaps working with colleagues after hours over drinks.

The Concept

The reception area at Okko Hotels Paris Gare de l'Est, with a sign reading "4 stars and not a single cloud". Courtesy of Okko Hotels
The reception area at Okko Hotels Paris Gare de l’Est, with a sign reading “4 stars and not a single cloud”. Courtesy of Okko Hotels

The Okko Paris Gare de L’Est hotel boasts 170 rooms and suites across several floors, each appointed with sleek contemporary features and a strong emphasis on design. Rooms are decorated in pleasant neutral tones: think light wood, eggshell, duck egg blue furniture and burnt siena walls– and the use of screens to divide sleeping areas from bathing and working zones. The screens recall Japanese design concepts, although (as I detail below) it doesn’t turn out to be especially functional, at least not in the room we stayed in.

{Related: Our Complete Guide to Where to Stay in Paris}

Meanwhile, in the reception and bar/lounge area, mid-century-modernist furniture sits alongside deep leather armchairs and cozy nooks with tables for working or socializing. As I explain further down, the enormous “Club” zone in the hotel is a lovely spot to catch up on work, read the paper or enjoy drinks and snacks with colleagues or family.

Our Room

Our ground-floor room at Okko Hotel Paris Gare de L'est was reasonably comfortable, but also dark and cramped.

We had a small standard room fitted with a double bed, tiny bathroom/shower area and desk/working space. Overall, this was a pretty cramped room whose design made it hard to use the existing space optimally.

And since our room was situated on the ground floor, the small window was glazed over for security and privacy. This made the space feel dark and a bit gloomy– and meant we had zero views to the outside. Truth be told, it felt a bit like staying in a sophisticated, high-end prison cell– not exactly what you want from a 4-star stay, to say the least. If you do book this hotel, I strongly advise that you insist they give you a room on the 2nd floor or above to avoid this scenario.

The bed was firm and comfortable, with high-quality, lightweight organic linens and several comfortable pillows. We appreciated the bedside charging stations/USB ports for phones and other devices, too.

{Related: The Hotel Grand Pigalle and Its High-Design Concept}

The bathroom, which wasn’t a separate room but divided by a semi-transparent screen, was chicly designed but afforded no privacy (including for the toilet area); there was also very little light. It was so small that it reminded me of a tonier version of the “bathing corners” in cramped Parisian studios I lived in as a twenty-something student.

We weren’t given many towels for our stay, even though we had booked for four nights and had a baby in tow (always requiring extra towels).

The shower was large, had excellent pressure and abundant hot water. But this positive point was counteracted by the noise from water pipes/plumbing in the night– probably from guest in an adjacent or upstairs room using the shower. Better insulation is needed to address this point.

Otherwise, while the room featured thoughtful details such as the aforementioned phone/USB charging stations, bottles of water, Nespresso machine, and a desk area for working in the room, the cramped conditions were apparent, especially once our large suitcase was opened and took up much of the limited space on the floor.

The coffee maker and safe were crammed into the tiny armoire/closet, which was so small that it was hard to hang more than a few items. Meanwhile, the design-centric fold-down desk was broken, and while it had been glued back into place, it was coming loose again and so didn’t fold back up properly.

These are the sorts of issues with ergonomics, comfort and quality that I think the Okko Hotels group needs to address to make this 4-star hotel truly worthy of its rating.

The Service

I found the staff at this property to be consistently helpful and friendly, even though they often appeared a bit overworked and stressed, perhaps due to overstaffing issues. I especially appreciated that they were always kind enough to honor my daily requests for storing food and milk for my baby in their staff refrigerator, given that the rooms did not have minibars or refrigerators.

The bar and lounge area was always well stocked and clean, and our request for a baby bed was met with a friendly visit from a staff member, even though it took a couple of reminders for them to bring one to us.

Other Amenities at the Hotel: The Bar & Lounge

One of the strongest and most appealing features at Okko Paris Gare de L’Est is the spacious ground-floor lounge, bar and breakfast area (called “The Club”), perfect for enjoying a morning coffee or even working for a few hours. I did the latter one evening as I had some work to catch up on, which was an enjoyable experience.

A huge perk (and probably the best you’ll benefit from at this hotel) is the complimentary drinks and snacks area, well-stocked with non-alcoholic drinks such as juices, sparkling water, sodas, coffee and tea, fruit, small pastries and savory nibbles for “aperitif hour”. You can also purchase alcoholic drinks at the bar.

The “Club” area is open 24 hours a day and also features a business corner with printer and two computers, plenty of comfortable seating areas (including in private niches ideal for business meetings or private conversations) and a bar area fitted with stools. There’s also a small gift shop selling design items.

The Breakfast

We didn’t try the breakfast (expensive at over 20 Euros a person when we were there) but it appeared to be a good-quality buffet-style spread with typical favorites such as scrambled eggs, bacon, freshly baked bread and pastries, cheeses, yogurt, fresh fruit and juices, charcuterie and other fare.

The hotel does occasionally offer packages that include breakfast– something worth looking into if you’re interested in this property.

The Rooftop (Public) Garden

Okko Hotel Gare de l’Est is built beneath an enormous (public) rooftop garden. It looks appealing, but we didn’t check it out during our October trip. It was fairly empty when we were there.

In the spring and summer, it looks like a nice place to read, perch or enjoy some casual lunch. This is a city-owned garden rather than one managed by the hotel, which is an interesting feature.

Location, Contact Details & Getting Around the Area

The hotel is situated just meters away from the Gare de L’est station, in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. It’s also in close reach of the Gare du Nord station, making it a convenient potential choice for Eurostar passengers from London and other European destinations.

Nearby sights and attractions include the banks of the Canal St Martin, abounding with restaurants, bars and cafes, and the bustling Grands Boulevards district, famed for its ornate covered arcades (passageways), theatres, restaurants and old-fashioned department stores.

Finding the hotel: Be aware that accessing this property is a bit tricky at first. From Gare de L’Est, take the exit to the Rue d’Alsace and turn right, then enter an open-air passageway to the hotel entrance, through a large metal door found to the right of a steep staircase that ascends up Rue d’Alsace.

If coming from Gare du Nord, there is an elevator/lift at street level on Rue D’Alsace that you’ll need to take down to the reception area. Since this can all be a bit confusing, I recommend using Google Maps or another navigation app to locate the hotel, and if in doubt, call the hotel for further directions.

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