When you think of Parisian luxury it’s marble bathrooms and gold taps that spring to mind, but if contemporary minimalism, vibrant street art and a cutting edge sports and wellness offering are more your vibe, get out of central Paris and check in to the Molitor, an iconic hotel celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.
Molitor Hotel Paris: Review
1929: An Art Deco Icon
At the arrival of a hot, sweaty summer in the city, there is only one place to be: out of said city. Unless, that is, you can find an outdoor pool worth lounging by. (And a free deck chair to do so on.) Enter Molitor Paris, an iconic Parisian five-star hotel that’s been on the map since its two Art Deco pools opened in 1929, almost a century ago. The two pools have been restored to their former glory following a short hiatus (more on this later) and are both maintained at 28 degrees all year. The 1929 US Olympic gold medallist (and Tarzan actor) Johnny Weissmuller was a lifeguard at the pool, the first modern bikini was unveiled at the Molitor in 1946, and the pool even gave its name, Piscine Molitor Patel, to the main character of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.
There are two ways to ensure your place by (or in) the pool this summer. Hotel guests can of course make full use of both pools, to be joined by members of Club Molitor, a wellness facility equipped with state-of-the-art kit, plus Molitor’s Spa by Clarins, the largest spa in Paris complete with sauna, steam room, hammam, reading room and salon. Located in the 16th Arrondissement, the hotel overlooks the world-renowned Roland Garros tennis courts, plus the Parc des Princes and Jean Bouin stadiums meaning the area is a hub for athletes. Soothe aches and pains with the spa’s signature sports massages based on six disciplines, swimming, running, tennis, golf, boxing or skiing, developed in collaboration with ambassadors from each sport. The swimming massage is the perfect way to round off a day spent lapping and lounging by the summer pool.
The Hiatus: Art at Molitor
In 1989 the building closed and was listed as a historic building, at which point it was descended on by Parisian artists who converted the space into an immense art hub. The former pool and hotel was transformed into a mecca for the Parisian street art and graffiti scene, with every available surface covered in art. The space earned its place in rave culture history on 16 April 2001, when the collective Heretik organised a rave that attracted more than 5000 people. This chapter of Molitor’s history continued until the complete renovation and reopening of the space as Hotel Molitor Paris by MGallery by Sofitel in 2014.
Old & New: The Next Chapter
The new incarnation of Molitor sees a marriage of its contrasting cultures, the boujie Parisian set can flock back to the Art Deco pools and recommence cocktail-sipping, lobster eating and bikini wearing, while there’s still space for the creative art set to feel at ease. The hotel is filled with street art, featuring original work from many of the artists who breathed life into the abandoned building in the 90s and 00s. Names of note amongst the artist include New-Yorker Seen, Parisian Psyckoze while the Gouzous of Jace from Réunion are easily amongst the most recognisable. The 78 changing cubicles surrounding the winter pool have been converted into an innovative urban art gallery open to the public, with each cabin taken over and transformed by a different street artist.
Next time you arrive in the French capital (by Eurostar, the only way to travel to Paris), hop on the metro and hot-foot it to the coolest summer hang-out in the city. Just 10 minutes west of the Eiffel Tower, this urban retreat reveals a whole new side of Paris.
Classic Rooms at Molitor start from £198 per person, per night on a room only basis, city tax excluded. For more information visit mltr.fr. Travel to Paris by Eurostar with fares starting from £29 each way. eurostar.com