The five best hotels in Paris

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The Independent Travel

1. Le Bristol

Paris's smartest shopping street, nicknamed "the enchanted river", provides a fitting home to the most enchanting of the city's grand hotels. Opened in 1925, the Bristol is famed for its antiques-filled bedrooms and salons - like an English stately home transported to the 8th arrondissement; its two Michelin-starred restaurant overseen by Eric Frechon; its rooftop swimming-pool with views of Sacré Coeur and the Eiffel Tower; and its extraordinary private garden, the largest in Paris. What's less well known is that this discreet temple to luxury is also one of the friendliest places to stay - which explains why well-heeled guests, including a surprising number of British families hot off the Eurostar, come back again and again.

112 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 8th, 00 33 1 53 43 43 00, www.hotel-bristol.com. Superior doubles from €710. Further information: www.masonrose.com/ 020-7235 3245/ enquiries@masonrose.com

2. L'Hôtel

Of all the hotels on the Left Bank, L'Hôtel is the most deliciously excessive and deeply romantic. A neo-classical lightwell runs the entire height of the building and the opulent rooms are given just the right degree of tongue-in-cheek detail. Cosseted salons mix regency stripes and loud faux-marble columns, giving the downstairs the cosy feel of a private house, with an Empire-style setting for Le Restaurant, and a gorgeous minuscule swimming pool in the cellar. Bedrooms range from Napoleon III to canopied boudoir: the Mistinguett room has the music hall star's mirrored art deco bed, and the room where Oscar Wilde died in 1900 has mahogany furniture and appropriate peacock wallpaper.

13 rue des Beaux-Arts, 6th, 00 33 1 44 41 99 00, www.l-hotel.com. Double from €280

3. Hôtel Amour

Proof that hip does not have to mean horribly expensive is the Hôtel Amour, the trendiest hotel to open in Paris in 2006. The brainchild of the graffiti artist turned nightclub entrepreneur André Emmanuel and Thierry Costes of the Café Costes family is a no-design design concept, mixing contemporary art, Fifties lamps, retro furniture and loud Seventies-print curtains. Some rooms have been designed by artists, graphic designers and André himself. Some have baths at the end of the bed, others have walk-in showers closed off by sliding doors, and it's clothes rails rather than wardrobes. The pink neon hotel sign and nude light bulbs in the corridors keep a touch of old Pigalle louche. No TVs or phones in rooms, nor double glazing (street-side rooms wake up with the road) but staff are young and friendly and the bistro is packed every night.

8 rue de Navarin, 9th, 00 33 1 48 78 31 80, www.hotelamour.com. Double €120

4. Pavillon de la Reine

A stay at The Pavillon de la Reine almost feels like you are the house guest of a very well-heeled friend. Facing a romantic flower-filled courtyard, the hotel is tucked behind the façade of an elegant townhouse on the Place des Vosges - one of the most beautiful squares in Paris. Its 56 rooms are decorated in a restrained trad-meets-contemporary style that retains the architectural charm of the building - the ground floor is dotted with antiques, flagstones, rugs, deep sofas and an honesty bar, where you can while away the hours before heading out into the fashionable streets of the Marais.

28 place des Vosges, 3rd. Reservations: Small Luxury Hotels of the World 00 800 525 480 00, www.slh.com. Doubles from €360 with breakfast

5. Murano Urban Resort

A gleaming white 19th-century façade does little to prepare you for the most futuristic hotel in Paris. A gigantic white Chesterfield in the entrance, long minimalist fireplace, long slate bar specialising in vodka and a fashionable restaurant in a converted garage are all so hip they are faintly ridiculous, but fun. Dark corridors lead to ultra-cool white bedrooms where white bedlinen and carpets are warmed up by colourful Pop Art furniture, and there are all sorts of gadgets: fingerprint door entries, flat screen TVs, Bang & Olufsen DVD players, and best of all, colour lighting moods you can adjust as you wish. The ultimate luxury? Two suites have their own infinity pool on the terrace. Staff with attitude - so bring your own to match.

13 boulevard du Temple, 3rd, 00 33 1 42 71 20 00, www.muranoresort.com. Double from €400.

For travel to Paris, visit www.eurostar.com or www.raileurope.co.uk



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