Chic chambres: Paris's best boutiques
The French capital has plenty of grand hotels to choose from, but small is beautiful too – as revealed by these stunning properties taken from the new 'Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France'
Saturday 31 July 2010
Best for fabrics and furniture: Hôtel Daniel
Style: Orientalist opulence
Setting: Elegant Huitieme
The Lebanese proprietors of Hôtel Daniel, who also own the elegant Hotel Albergo in Beirut, know how to attract a refined clientele. The interiors are a sumptuous blaze of fanciful fabrics, oriental carpets and luxurious furnishings: a mood of tasteful exuberance that we found instantly uplifting. (Talking of which, the lift, lined with hand-painted De Gournay wallpaper, has to be one of the most inviting in Europe.)
Pretty as the inside of a jewel box, the rooms are decked out with 18th-century-style toile de Jouy: Chinese kite-fliers, swirling ferns, tropical trees or picturesque expeditions by elephant. Bed sheets feel as smooth as cream; other fine touches in the suites include decent-sized dressing gowns, air-conditioning you can understand, and iPods.
When you summon tea, it arrives in willow-pattern china. And, once you've tried the gourmet restaurant, the Daniel is surrounded by terrific places, from conveyor-belt fave Lô Sushi to the super-smart and stately Apicius, just across the street.
It's super-central: walk south and you hit the congested runway of the Champs-Elysées; head northwards and there's the oh-so-Paris Parc Monceau, its benches filled by fine-grained mothers, nannies and infants.
But don't miss strolling east along Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, which gradually builds to a frenzy of window-shopping delights. First up is gourmet food emporium Dalloyau; then comes Hôtel Le Bristol, followed by a parade of famous fashion houses.
Breakfast here, delivered on a white-linened trolley, is a harmonious still-life of coffee, newspapers and delicious, what-the-hell pastries. The Daniel has a lounge brimming with plush cushions, chinoiserie trimmings and orchids; the bar-restaurant is intimate, with silky banquettes and cabinets filled with dainty coloured glasses. It works – and this goes for the whole hotel – equally as well for high-powered, discreet business as for high-style, discreet romance.
Our favourite rooms: all the deluxe rooms are on the sixth floor – room 603 has a big bathroom with a spectacular view of the Paris rooftops. Standard rooms 102, 202, 302 and 402 are smaller but equally delightful and quiet. You can watch the sun set over the tip of the Eiffel Tower from the Daniel Suite.
Rooms: 26, including seven suites.
Rates: €350–€740, not including breakfast, from €24.
Address: Hôtel Daniel, 8 rue Frédéric Bastiat, 75008 Paris (00 33 1 42 56 17 00; hoteldanielparis.com )
Best for peace and privacy: Hotel Keppler
Style: Private HauSSman
Setting: A sashay from the Champs-Elysees
Narrow Rue Kepler in the chic 16th arrondissement is an ideal address for a boutique bolthole, within trotting distance of the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Elysées and all the sights of the Right Bank. And, perhaps surprisingly, given its proximity to such major shopping, dining and wining, Hotel Keppler is not only fittingly fashionable but also luxuriously tranquil.
Outside, it's all imposing Haussmannian townhouse; inside, designer Pierre-Yves Rochon has signed off a sophisticated meeting of high-society modern style with camped-up classicism. Riddled with alcoves, plastered with frescos and dotted with intriguing artefacts (note the man-size china vases flanking the door to the winter garden), the hotel has an air of opulence that's nicely tempered by the unstuffy approach of its incredibly helpful staff.
In contrast to the exoticism of the ground-floor communal areas, the bedrooms are designed to feel stylish and serene, with sparing use of Keppler's signature strong colours and bold prints – toiles, checks and animal prints – and just a smattering of artworks. This is a land where laundry is returned the same day, each article of clothing wrapped in tissue paper and laid artfully in a chic white box, complete with ribbon. The suites are stocked with Hermès products, and there's a sauna/steam room.
Breakfast, taken in the lower-level winter garden room, is composed of bread and pastries that are too good to refuse, ripe red strawberries, espresso and just-squeezed juice. The proximity of Hédiard and Fauchon allow you to squirrel all manner of treasures back to your room for late-night snacking; or you can arrange an official in-room delivery of cakes from the famed Angelina tearoom and pâtisserie on Rue de Rivoli. The guests-only bar is all high-camp sophistication, awash with stripes, animal print, big, puffy cushions and a library of arty-fashiony books; really more of a salon than a bar, it's lovely spot to ensconce yourselves for tea or a cocktail.
Our favourite rooms: We like the black, white and yellow Executive Rooms, with TVs in the bathrooms. The four Superior Suites come with balconies and Eiffel Tower views.
Rooms: 39, including five suites.
Rates: €220–€1,000. Breakfast, €22.
Address: Hotel Keppler, 10 rue Kepler, 75116 Paris (00 33 1 47 20 65 05; keppler.fr )
Best for tales of the unexpected: Hôtel Particulier Montmartre
Style: Arthouse original
Setting: Secret Garden, Sacre-Coeur
High on the hilltop of the 18th arrondissement, the hidden-away address of Hôtel Particulier Montmartre (the name gives nothing away, either) is a good match for its style, which leaves the mainstream far, far behind. Stepping through the patrician front door, you find yourself in a surprising, visually arresting space, in which pop-art giant lips and aristocratic antiques cohabit with kitsch, life-size statues of angels, Arne Jacobsen chairs and cowhide rugs. Though there's a mid-century, modern slant to the furnishings, the overall effect is less dry than that suggests.
The hotel's handful of suites all feature work by different artists: the marvellously titled Trees With Ears has fabulous, hand-printed Japanese-style wallpaper, a bed big enough for an entire family and a huge rolltop bath; the room segues into an elegant living area, complete with sofa and chaise longue.
On one wall, facing a window with views over the drinks terrace and its fairy lights, you'll find a rubber earpiece and a brass button. Explore further and you'll come across the end of this auditory extravagance, hidden behind the sofa – it's for relaying sexy messages to your lover at the other end of the suite.
The hotel has no restaurant of its own but you can order up a chef to prepare a private dinner for you, to be served in the garden – amazing for a summer birthday – or around a huge dining table indoors. Albeit one of the touristy destinations on Earth, the neighbourhood has some great bistrots, such as Virage Lepic, with its red-and-white chequered V Ctablecloths and mementos of Doris Day and Judy Garland, La Mascotte (old-school nirvana) and Le Miroir (for new-generation simplicity).
Unlike any other Parisian bolthole, Hôtel Particulier Montmartre is homely enough to put you at your ease – it couldn't be more intimate, with just five suites – yet it's filled with stylish and beautiful design. The garden, with shady nooks and a fountain, is as much a work of art as the interior, designed by Louis Benech, also responsible for the Jardin des Tuileries, no less.
Our favourite rooms: We'd stay in Trees With Ears for the name alone, but it's also invitingly spacious, draped in velvet and full of antiques. Vitrine, created by a sculptor, is a saucier stay altogether, with a cabinet full of highly suggestive blown-glass objects, and a big steam room. The arboreal wallpaper in Jacuzzi-equipped Vegetal makes you feel as though you're sleeping in a light-dappled forest glade.
Rooms: Five suites.
Rates: Low season, €290–€490; high season, €390–€590. Breakfast, €20.
Address: Hôtel Particulier Montmartre, 23 avenue Junot, 75018 Paris (00 33 1 53 41 81 40; hotel-particulier-montmartre.com )
Best for left-bank cool: Hôtel Récamier
Style: Globetrotting glamour
Setting: Sophisticated Saint-Germain
Stepping through the doors of the Récamier, designed by French interiors notable Jean-Louis Deniot, is like entering not a hotel but the private apartment of a wealthy archaeologist with a taste for the earthier, more textural side of modernist design. In the lobby, black-and-white chequered marble is offset by warm-toned wooden furniture and fabrics that span the colour spectrum from espresso to macchiato. On a side table, a cast of a bronze west African Ife portrait bust stands, its gaze directing guests to the tiny check-in desk across the hall.
Six storeys up in the supermodel-slender building and you're in a peaceful balcony room, full of bright spring sunlight, snug and well-equipped for a city retreat (there's a fridge full of eminently gluggable wine to celebrate your arrival).
The decor continues the safari-meets-1950s-ethnography-museum vibe, with hessian-effect wallpaper and a tent-like canvas canopy over the bed. The bathrooms, in contrast, are all black slate and polished white symmetry.
You don't have to wander very far from Récamier's doors to experience the mixture of history and contemporary refinement that makes Paris unique. Dominating the square outside the front door is the Eglise Saint-Sulpice. It dates back to the 13th century and features in The Da Vinci Code; far more interestingly, it's home to some seriously sensual murals by the Romantic painter Delacroix, and was the place where the Marquis de Sade was baptised. Flanking the square are clutches of the capital's chicest shops, including labels such as APC, Vanessa Bruno and Paul & Joe. Organic café Bread & Roses is nearby on Rue Fleurus, or there's Grom for ice-cream, and Ze Kitchen Galerie for with-it fusion food.
Our favourite rooms: Room 42 triumphs in size and has a chocolate, cream and beige colour palette. We also like Room 64 on the sixth floor, smaller but with a balcony overlooking Place Saint-Sulpice. If you prefer a bathtub to a walk-in shower, book a Classic or Club room.
Rates: €250–€420, including tax. Breakfast, from €10.
Address: Hôtel Récamier, 3 bis, Place Saint-Sulpice, 75006 Paris (00 33 1 43 26 04 89; hotelrecamier.com )
Best for rock-star status: La Réserve Paris
Style: Millionaire pied-a-terre
Setting: Eiffel-view right bank
High-status location notwithstanding (the Eiffel Tower looks near enough to touch from here) you could be walking up to any old bourgeois, 16th-arrondissement mansion block. But La Réserve Paris is, truly, something else, as Paris accommodation goes: a place where world travellers who are used to the best – CEOs, rock stars, crown princes – will feel at home.
The lobby is tiny, merely allowing staff to greet you and find out what you might need from them that day. Inside the apartments, the initial impression is of acres of space: guests who own homes in a UK city are likely to note how much bigger their La Réserve apartment is than their own house. The decor can best be described as simply luxurious: a blank canvas, with a bare minimum of colourful detail. What this means is that, if you were to take an apartment for a few months, you wouldn't be living with someone else's taste – it's more like a very swanky furnished rental, a super-serviced, five-star apartment. Living rooms are fitted with the most enormous flat-screen TVs; there are Bose speakers all around. And the kitchens are equipped with every possible accoutrement for the home chef.
Each room has a full-time gouvernante (that's French for housekeeper – not a strict governess, whatever you might hope), catering to your every need. From unpacking your luggage to helping you organise private events... this is truly "your wish is our command" stuff. You can throw a Sunday brunch for your friends, you can party late and sleep in till all hours. You can smoke on the terraces and in the gardens. You can even bring nicely behaved, diminutive pets.
Finally, even if the premises are fully booked, you will never hear even a sigh from another guest, though you might end up on nodding terms with a bodyguard posted on a landing.
Breakfast is prepared in your kitchen by (very nice) maids. It's a simple affair of croissants and pastries, freshly squeezed juice, Mariage Frères tea...
Our favourite rooms: best for family trips, Apartment 1 has plenty of space spread over three levels, with a private entrance, a garden, a huge master suite with a walk-in dressing room, and a view of the Eiffel Tower from the dining area. Apartment 2 is also vast, with a big garden and a fabulous view. Apartment 10 has an open kitchen and a wonderful terrace where you feel as though you own the Eiffel Tower.
Rooms: 10 apartments, with one to four bedrooms in each.
Rates: €1,850–€4,330, including tax and a Continental or à la carte breakfast, served in the apartment by your maid.
Address: La Réserve Paris, 10 place du Trocadéro/3 avenue d'Eylau, 75116 Paris (00 33 1 53 70 53 70; lareserve-paris.com)
Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France (Spy Publishing, £19.95) is now available from all good bookshops and at mrandmrssmith.com .
The new book features 31 hand-picked French hotels, each personally visited by Mr & Mrs Smith, then anonymously reviewed. Each guidebook also includes a free BlackSmith card, entitling members to travel and hotel benefits, from shopping discounts to free champagne and spa treatments.
To book any of the hotels featured in this article visit mrandmrssmith.com or call the Mr & Mrs Smith Travel Team on 0845 034 0700.
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