The City of Light always deserves our attention. It’s had a tough time recently but its revolutionary spirit lives on. Edited by Daisy Finer.
The Best Hotels in Paris 2019
BEST PARIS HOTELS FOR ART
Le Royal Monceau, Raffles – 8th arrondissement
Even before you’ve clapped eyes on Russian artist Nikolay Polissky’s installation of life-size wooden elk and deer on the first-floor landing, it’s hard to miss the fact there’s a serious art thread running through this heavenly hotel near the Champs-Élysées. Rooms are adorned with works from the hotel’s impressive private collection (book in with the art curator for a tour) alongside coffee table art books from the in-house book store (there’s an art gallery on site too) and handcrafted furniture by Philippe Starck. There’s a cinema for watching art house flicks, where you can munch on caramelised popcorn by Pierre Hermé; a pure white Spa My Blend by Clarins, with the longest (23m) pool in any Parisian hotel; and a fresco of hand-glued shells decorating the Michelin- starred Italian restaurant, Il Carpaccio.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £800. raffles.com
BEST PARIS HOTELS FOR TASTEFUL GLAMOUR
La Reserve – 8th arrondissement
Rubbing stately shoulders with the Elysees palace and the Champs Élysées, La Reserve, the Rolls Royce of Parisian hotels with its Napoleonic splendour and Palace status, has a discreet yet generous philosophy on luxury. Once the home of Napoleon’s half-brother, the building’s Belle Époque bones have been rattled into the 21stcentury with designer Jacques Garcia’s extravagant overhaul, one that neatly stitches state-of-the-art tech and smooth contemporary lines into the arresting historical opulence. Dusty french fancy is banished in the large suites for sumptuously modern velvet sofas, clean cut desks and an enormous contemporary style bed, expertly set against those Haussmann wall mouldings that prompt clichéd squeals of delight from tourists. The outcome of such a delicate blend justifies Parisian hotels’ reluctance to operate as museums – satiating the romantic aesthetes and design crowd in equal measure. A soft, sophisticated library spills into a charming courtyard and conceals a plush secret smoking room (imperial-era opium haunt one suspects). Destination restaurants Le Gabriel and Le Pagode de Cos, both overseen by Executive Chef, Jérome Banctel, integrate Japanese cuisine into seasonal French fare amid grandiose pillars and gold embellished detail. A red-lacquered spa with its mirrored turquoise pool, steam room and decadent treatments recalls the spoils of a private home rather than luxury hotel. Together, with this heady design coup, impeccable levels of service and refreshingly classy ‘every guest is just as important as the next’ approach, La Reserve is truly in a league of its own. To pinch the apt prose of French poet Baudelaire, ‘Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté, Luxe, calme et volupté: ‘there is nothing but order and beauty, Luxury, calm and delight’.
Words by Rosalyn Wikeley
BOOK IT: Doubles from around £985. lareserve-paris.com
The Ritz – 1st arrondissement
Fresh from a four-year overhaul, this beloved grande dame emerged last year all subtly spruced up and singing, with as much old-fashioned glamour as before. Rooms are still a cocooning vision of cream with antique furniture, period oil paintings and glass chandeliers, while new suites are named after the literary and artistic characters who once stayed here: Marcel Proust, F Scott Fitzgerald and Coco Chanel. The world’s first Chanel spa has opened as part of the Ritz Club with specially created facials that leave skin glowing; the Salon Proust has been added for French afternoon tea; and Bar Hemingway is the spot for cocktails – full of memorabilia, including the author’s original letters to his wife. A legendary hotel with five-star service that feels like stepping back in time.
BOOK IT: Doubles from around £840. ritzparis.com
BEST HOTEL FOR TRENDY PARISIAN CHIC
Hotel Des Grands Boulevard – 2nd arrondissement
If you have yet to get to grips with Paris’ new chic, Hotel des Grands Boulevard is a good place to start. The latest 50-room hotel from the Experimental Cocktail Group (as famed for its founders’ childhood friendship as it is for its clipped hipster design) neatly exemplifies the city’s new relaxed identity, more aligned with East London’s polished bohemia than fussy French hospitality. Nestled in an undiscovered residential corner of the 2nd‘arrondissement’ and flanked by Faubourg Montmartre theatres and the Opera House; the hotel is the perfect launchpad for scaling this romantic city. The discreet entrance, secret passageway and relaxed reception area smack of the ECC brand – everything is easy, unpretentious and painfully cool. In a sun-soaked atrium enveloped in green plants, a modern story unfolds with suited-and-booted types talking business over frothy coffee, ‘I work in tech’ 30-somethings perching up at the bar and coiffered grand-mamams processing the new buzz from red cushioned benches. Working with Dorothée Meilichzon, the ECC group have spun an eclectic scene of Louis XVI splendour with the simple aesthetic of Revolutionary France (an ode to the arrondissement’s history), not forgetting a hint of their own retro trademark. The canopy beds, Scandinavian lighting, rustic stools and dark moody walls blend vibrant romance with minimalist gusto, serving up an elevated simplicity fast conquering Paris. The breakfasts here cater to a spoiled international palate (you can forget ‘just croissants’), while the lunch and dinner menu take heed from the aforementioned ‘simple luxury’ mission statement – the options are minimal and hedonistic (try their gnocchi with lamb ragout and chocolate tart with cereal ice cream: all lip-smacking stuff). Post dinner drinks can be found up on the roof terrace, a magnet for trendy Parisians defeating the cool winds with outdoor heaters and experimental cocktails aplenty.
Words by Rosalyn Wikeley
BOOK IT: Doubles from £200 excluding breakfast. grandsboulevardshotel.com
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD HANGOUT
Le Pigalle – 9tharrondissement
Le Pigalle, located near the Moulin Rouge in an area historically renowned for its seductive mix of seedy and sensational, assumes the character of a private members’ club for a fashionable crowd – bashed-up leather chairs, low-slung sofas and phone-gazing hip young things. The reception morphs into dining space and a marble-topped island serves as bar and eaterie. It’s hard to distinguish staff from guests. Inside, designers Charlotte De Tonnac and Hugo Sauzay have blended vintage and contemporary; bedrooms are cosseting pods with marshmallow beds, books, souvenirs and saucy snapshots of neighbourhood life – some have cocktail bars, turntables and a stack of vinyl. It’s like staying at a friend’s stylish Parisian pad, albeit one who makes a fine home-made terrine, sprinkles tomato dust on burrata and sources the best local croissants for breakfast.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £127. lepigalle.paris
BEST PARISIAN SPA HOTEL
Four Seasons George V – 8th arrondissement
As poised and polished as the day it opened in 1928, the George V is Rive Droite at its best: 17th-century Flemish tapestries, marble mosaic floors, crystal chandeliers, wildly extravagant flower displays and spectacular artworks. It’s no wonder Gwyneth Paltrow (right) just spent her honeymoon here. The 244 rooms are quintessentially French in classical Louis XV style – and huge by Parisian standards, more like a pied-à-terre. Wake up in the morning and head downstairs for a suitably extravagant breakfast, including quite possibly the best hot chocolate on the planet. The three restaurants have a galaxy of Michelin stars and the spanking new marble-clad spa is incredibly elegant, bringing with it a splash of contemporary. There’s an enormous pool plus two hammams and a Technogym-equipped fitness centre.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £873 for a Superior Room. fourseasons.com
BEST HISTORIC HOTEL IN PARIS
Hotel Lutetia – Saint-Germain-des-Prés
After a £177m four-year revamp, all eyes were on this Paris icon when it reopened its doors in July 2018. Architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte was the man in charge – and he has done a sensational job, injecting cool contemporary features while keeping the spirit of the historic building intact. For this is a place with a storied past. Built on the Left Bank by the founders of Le Bon Marché department store, the hotel was loved by the likes of Picasso, Matisse and James Joyce. Following occupation by the Nazis, the Taittinger champagne family bought the Lutetia in the 1950s, soon counting Serge Gainsbourg and César as regulars. The buzz is now back. Bar Joséphine is packed every night with a glamorous crowd (Brigitte Macron is a regular). The 184 rooms are understated, in shades of beige and blue with Murano glass wall lights, brushed oak floors and all- marble bathrooms. The swathes of marble continue in the super-slick new Akasha spa.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £750. hotellutetia.com
BEST SECRET HOTEL IN PARIS
Hotel Rond du Point, Esprit de France – Champs Élysées
The first thing to know about Hotel Rond du Point, is its location. This compact but luxuriously sealed hotel is tucked away in the bourgeois thickets of Paris down a quiet street, a mere stone’s throw from Champs Élysées. It’s the ideal launchpad for any Parisian sojourn. The second is that leopard print carpets, marble floors and green velvet chairs seem unusual bedfellows, but miraculously, they melt into a delicious picture that keeps its design dignity. That is the full extent of the quirk here. Modern edges are an ode to yesteryear bourgeois visions that paint the Paris cliché for those visiting. Striped bedroom wallpaper, thick wooden minibars packing every whisky and spirit going and deep bathtubs would suggest so. As would the picture-perfect balconies on the 7thfloor with sweeping views over Paris’ rooftops, and the Renaissance paintings reimagined as cushioned headboards for the sumptuously comfortable beds. It’s a modern iteration of this old, elegant city rather than ‘new-wave’ or ‘hipster Paris’. A pretty private courtyard beckons for a glass of rosé by the dining room – an intimate space with an antique mirrored wall and those dark green velvet sofas and chairs again. A perfectly-formed pool and hammam recall the spa of a well-heeled individual – the ultimate sanctuary after a day of wading through tourists. Breakfast here is the pièce de résistance, a veritable feast of Viennese pastries, eggs variations, jams, smoothies, meats and cheeses. There really is little need for lunch, but come supper, the friendly reception staff have a few local secrets up their sleeves.
Words by Rosalyn Wikeley
BOOK IT: Doubles from £161. Paris-hotel-rondpoint-champselysees.com
BEST HOTEL IN PARIS FOR EUROSTAR TRAVEL
Hotel 25Hours, Terminus Nord – Gare du Nord
Part of the 25Hours collection, Terminus Nord is a game-changer for the Eurostar traveller. The hotel is discreetly sandwiched between too cafés, directly opposite opposite Gare du Nord in the 10th – a no-go arrondissement ten years back that is now defining Paris’s ‘woke’ revolution. Terminus Nord itself personifies the new wave of Parisian design culture. Laid back functionality marries comfort, design is both conscious and soulful and the lines between work and play are blurred. From the boutique selling local brands by the reception to the extensive dining and café area, the spaces flow and industrial edges are softened with inviting sofas and chairs. A vivacious décor pervades and nods not only to the neighbourhood’s cultural heritage – a North African, Middle-Eastern medley – but uses local fabrics, prints, products and even local stories in their coffee table books to support the community. In the evening, these ‘petite boudoir’ rooms really come into their own. The deep red fabrics lift the crimson sunset over Gare De Nord’s imposing rooftop statues, and the dim, naked bulbs serve up a warm and sultry cocoon amid Paris’s hustle and bustle. The cultural thrust behind the interiors spills onto the menu, a kitsch broad-sheet style contraption teeming with Middle Eastern and North African favourites – from beef cigars Moroccains to Israeli style Hoya’s prawns – along with more worldly ‘hipster’ dishes international travellers are accustomed to. An extensive dining room and café area blushes with West Anderson pink, velvet chairs recalling Jeff Koons pink balloons, and exposed copper pipes and ventilation. Breakfast is kaleidoscopic, indulgent and more European. Laptops are welcome. This is a progressive hotel apace with the demands of modern life while summoning a bygone community spirit. Upon leaving I pass a group of teenagers playing cards across the farm kitchen-style table in the clipped café space. Such is the spirit of 25hour Terminus Nord.
Words by Rosalyn Wikeley
BOOK IT: Doubles from £169. 25hours-hotels.com
BEST THEATRICAL HOTEL IN PARIS
Hotel Barrière Le Fouquet’s – Champs Élysées
For bygone Paris, minus the dust but all the decadence, it has to be Hotel Barrière Le Fouquet’s. The location alone is enough to stir adolescent palpitations – steps from the Champs Elysees On Avenue George V – but it is the suave, velvety rooms steeped in history, glamour and fine wine that are the deal clincher. Testament to its star-studded history, the hotel has a theatrical, eccentric charm to it. Thick curtains flank a wide stone staircase winding up to one of Paris’ ‘it’ restaurants. Gold framed paintings gaze down over the spa’s generous subterranean pool. Impeccably-dressed doorman indulge their part in this golden age performance. There is a sumptuously timeless feel that pervades, the sort that no boutique or new grandee could ever attempt to capture. The priciest rooms indulge modernists’ tech and comfort itches without draining any of that 5* Parisian fairy dust – think handsome breakfasts-in-bed with fine-limbed furniture and French balcony doors swinging open to the city’s iconic skyline – while smaller suites are a lavish iteration of a moody boudoir. In-the-know Parisians and tourists glide through an old bookshelf door into La Marta cocktail bar, while foodie’s make for the legendary and recently revamped Le Fouquet’s brasserie or Le Joy’s roof garden for a cold glass of Veuve Clicquot.
Words by Rosalyn Wikeley
BOOK IT: Doubles from £729. hotelsbarriere.com
BEST NEW HOTEL IN PARIS
Nolinski – 1starrondissement
Sandwiched between the Garnier Opera House and the Rue Saint-Honoré, the Nolinski oozes a contemporary Parisian cool typical of architect Jean-Louis Deniot, who has flawlessly blended avant-garde design with the old bones of a grand Haussmannian building. It’s as though you’ve been hauled off one of the city’s busiest streets into a silkier dimension, with blue and green hues, smooth lobby music and provocative art, such is Deniot’s intention in creating a space more reminiscent of a fictional traveller’s plush home (Nolinski’s) than a hotel. Jagged geometric mirrors, standalone cube minibars and zigzag cornicing arrest the eyes, while lavishly-sized beds, marble bathrooms and Juliet balconies remind guests of the first arrondissement postcode. Dare to break the serene mirage as you dip into the pristine pool, reflected on the mirrored ceiling.
Words by Rosalyn Wikeley
BOOK IT: Doubles from £373. nolinskiparis.com