Every season, Paris sees a whole new batch of hotels open their doors, which can make it hard to keep up. These last few months, the French capital has welcomed offshoots of international big hitters, including a Bvlgari hotel with a sense of service that’ll be hard for other properties to match. Mammoth hotel openings like the Cheval Blanc, with revamps of the Saint James chateau-hotel and historic Lancaster that have also made it onto the list, as well as openings of smaller boutique hotels for explorers looking to put a different spin on the city.
Bvlgari Hotel Paris
About as haute as it gets, the Bvlgari Paris opened earlier this year, joining locations across the world from Bali to London. Sporting a seriously sleek look that screams Italian glamor without so much as a hint of rococo, the brand, that is set to continue its expansion on home ground in Rome, Tokyo and Los Angeles, has discretely glided into the top spot when it comes to hospitality and service in Paris.
Rooms are spacious, deeply comfortable, every space is immaculate down to the very last detail and staff are the perfect balance of personable and professional. Every space is the definition of contemporary sophistication, whether it’s the lobby lounge with heavy-set black fireplace, the bar of equal parts light and dark or the upmarket spa with a pool that will draw you right to its turquoise waters so you’ll never want to leave.
At the restaurant, guests can choose from Italian staples from all over the country, including three-star chef Niko Romito’s take on the Milanese escalope he’s been perfecting for over a year, which is so good you’ll never be satisfied by another escalope again. The Bvlgari Paris is a highly exclusive spot seconds from the Champs-Elysées with all the allure of Italian style and hospitality where you don’t have to be worth billions to feel at home.
Bvlgari Hotel Paris – 30 Av. George V, 75008 Paris
Madame Rêve Hotel
Blink and you’ll miss the narrow entrance to Madame Rêve slotted in a corner of the historic Louvre post office building in the city center. Dreamt up by entrepreneur Laurent Taïeb, who’s partnered with Jean Nouvel and Philippe Starck on his upcoming notoriously contemporary Duo Towers hotel project elsewhere in the city, this spot is more in keeping with Parisian style.
Interiors have a restful autumnal palette of warm ochres and creamy whites, and promise to give a feeling of relief from city stresses thanks to intimate spaces like a tiny lobby that’s a far cry from the ostentatious hallways at other hotels. Even the lobby bar and brasserie with its eight-meter high ceilings feels cozy thanks to leather armchairs and perfectly placed lighting hidden behind wood panels. Credit also goes to the 360° views of the open skies and surrounding buildings like the St Eustache Church or Beaubourg, be it from the comfy beds in the rooms or Plume restaurant, which just won its first Michelin star last March.
The real showstopper though is the enormous rooftop bar and restaurant clad in jungly plants that boasts the best of those Parisian views, which will be opening its doors properly this summer after a long dormant winter.
Madame Rêve – 8 Rue du Louvre, 75001 Paris
A restful pit stop that says more Chateau Marmont than Parisian palace due to its compact size and neutral tones, Château Voltaire sits in an off-white corner building tucked slightly back from the busy road linking the Opéra Garnier and the Jardin du Palais Royal. The central location is a high point if you’re the kind of traveler that likes to be able to get to most places on foot.
A first foray into hotels for its owner Thierry Gillier, founder of French high street fashion brand Zadig et Voltaire, the spot owes its subdued interiors punctuated by forties flower-print carpets and enamel tiling to Parisian architecture firm Festen and creative director Franck Durand (Holiday Magazine and campaigns of cult fashion brands like Isabel Marrant). The result is a laid-back space where a mix of resident and non-residents guests drape themselves across fringed velour sofas in the ground-floor parlour by the open fire or mingle at a table of the alluring Emil brasserie with subtle Parisian notes and a menu of local staples like steak tartare and Mediterranean plates like vitello tonato and fish carpaccio.
If you really want to splash out, book the penthouse suite with a bay window that opens onto a small leafy balcony styled by famous French landscape designer Louis Benech. And when you’re ready for some downtime, book an hour at the spa in basement with heated bath pool and sauna and a massage to recharge your batteries.
Château Voltaire – 5 Rue Saint-Roch, 75001 Paris
Saint James Paris
While it’s no surprise to find castles scattered across the French countryside, it’s rarer to find one actually within the city limits. And that’s exactly what the Saint James is. Hidden behind large imposing gates, a gravel driveway with its own fountain leads to swivel doors, one of the many original 19th century features that have been dusted off and given new lease of life in the property’s recent renovation. Designer Laura Gonzalez almost shelled the place to open it up and let in natural light, while keeping the neoclassical interiors intact.
Like many historic sites in Paris, the Saint James has had many lives. Starting out as a take-off ground for hot air balloons, it was then the residence of Adolphe Thiers, a former French president. When he passed away, it became the Thiers Foundation, then university accommodation for a handful of students, and later on, was snapped up by British entrepreneur Peter de Savary who added it to his collection of private Saint James clubs, (also in Antigua and Los Angeles).
The staff is the hotel’s top asset, some of whom have been here for more than three decades like Clés d’Or concierge Pascal. However, that’s not to say that newer joiners are any less personable. Quite the contrary. For instance, Anne-Sophie down in the Guerlain spa, also new, are also worth a mention for stellar service, and in this case, a massage that will have you floating up the hotel’s white grand staircase back to you room.
You’ll also want to spend time plopped in a leather armchair in the dimly lit library bar with old books lining shelves that roll all the way up to the ceiling. It’s here that you’ll find members of the Saint James club days nursing an Old Fashioned before they set off to dine on Chef Julien Dumas’ nature-inspired cuisine, which earned him a Michelin star this year. Finish with a stroll in the leafy gardens or a night cap at the outdoor gazebo bar, that will make you forget you’re in the city if you hadn’t already.
Saint James Paris – 5 Pl. du Chancelier Adenauer, 75116 Paris
Cheval Blanc Paris
Well known for a clutch of trendy boutique hotels in some of the world’s most exclusive locations (St-Tropez, Saint-Barth, the Maldives and Courchevel), the Cheval Blanc Paris is no exception. Sitting right on the River Seine, LVMH’s first urban hotel opened its doors last year to much acclaim.
Inside a renovated wing of the Samaritaine department store, the 72 rooms all come with killer river views. No expense has been spared in the carefully crafted interiors with a smattering of art works that hang on the walls across the property. Like its seaside resorts, it has a rooftop bar with tall grasses, interiors favour relaxing cream-on-beige rooms with occasional blasts of colour. There is a spacious Dior spa with 98-ft swimming pool as well as a rooftop bar and four restaurants.
Limbar on the ground floor is the perfect pit stop between sightseeing and shopping. Headed up by one of the city’s most skilled head pastry chefs Maxime Frédéric — so skilled in fact that last March’s Michelin ceremony left some culinary journalists wondering whether he should be the first pastry chef to be awarded a star. His grandmother’s version of vol-au-vent puff pastry or wholewheat cheese and ham croissant that took no less than two years to perfect, will keep you coming back for more. Other restaurants include a branch of Milanese institution Langosteria, the Tout-Paris brasserie with Seine River views and of course, Arnaud Donckele’s gastronomic Plénitude which was awarded a star this year.
Cheval Blanc Paris – 8 Quai du Louvre, 75001 Paris
The Lancaster Hotel
A few seconds from the Champs-Elysées, with a vibrant history that harps back to the 1880s woven with a smattering of fascinating guests like Greta Garbo, Orson Welles, Grace Kelley, Adrien Brody and David Lynch, as well as rock stars who would stumble in for a kip after a night out on the tiles it’s a wonder how the five-star Lancaster has managed to stay under the radar.
A well-kept secret among those in the know, it’s tucked in a side street that leads to the Champs, the creamy white stone façade with its neat black wrought iron balcony built in 1879, channeling a West London air that matches the hotel’s very British name. The residence of a French politician of Spanish descent, it was transformed into a hotel in 1930 by its new owner, Swiss hotelier Emile Wolf who wanted British travelers to feel at home here.
A keen art collector, Wolf leagued a number of paintings to the hotel, many of which are still on display today, including several by Russian artist Boris Pastoukhoff. Various antique pieces of furniture and impressively ornate clocks also give the hotel character, despite undergoing a complete renovation by French architect Jean-Philippe Nuel (Molitor, Cinq Codet hotels) that’s brought deeply comfortable beds and cozy hues across the 44 rooms and 11 suites.
At Monsieur restaurant (a nod to a friend of German actress Marlene Dietrich, who lived at the hotel for several years), chef Sébastien Giroud serves updated French gastronomic fare rustled up with fresh, seasonal produce. Highlights include tender lobster in a velvety bisque, langoustine with a dash of espelette pepper, coco de pimpaule beans from Brittany, served on white clothed tables in the soft gray dining room adjoining the courtyard and bar. Breakfast is also taken here – don’t miss the real, thick chocolat chaud served by one of the hotel’s longest standing staff members.
The Lancaster – 7 Rue de Berri, 75008 Paris
Kimpton St Honoré Hotel
A sizeable hotel of 149 rooms in a neighborhood that was screaming out for a comfortable, stylish place to stay or even just hang out, the American Kimpton St Honoré is a laid back addition to Opéra. The high point is the Sequoia rooftop bar with picture-perfect views across the city’s rooftops punctuated by the Eiffel Tower. Climb down to the ground floor and you’re in California, in Montecito to be accurate (also the name of the restaurant), where French-American chef duo Nicolas Pastot and Carrie Salomon plate up all the American goodness you could want like grilled fish tacos, lobster rolls, fried chicken and BBQ ribs as well as sunny salads.
The Art Nouveau building is exceptionally beautiful with mosaics of blooming flowers and singing birds. Inside, lofty interiors come with original early 1900s features like the caged elevator carrying guests from the lobby to comfortable rooms designed by Charles Zana on the upper floors. There is also a compact shiny pink spa by Codage Paris, the latest bespoke skincare brand to take the city by storm.
Kimpton St Honoré – 27 – 29 Bd des Capucines, 75002 Paris
Maison Mère Hotel
Switching things up now in terms of style and neighborhood, Maison Mère is worth keeping up your sleeve when you want to stay somewhere that feels a little more lively, intimate and local. Step off Pigalle’s cocktail bar and restaurant strip over the mosaic of the threshold into the pocket sized lobby. There’s a reception desk manned by young friendly staff to the right and lobby lounge/coworking space in the back, and a sitting area with a bubble gum pink sofa that segues into a bar and restaurant area to the left.
Upstairs, the 53 rooms are snug by American standards but are cozy and well thought out with artworks and books arranged around the bed to give each space a homely feel that’ll have you wishing for more hours reading in the big bouncy bed. Windows or balconies are slotted in among the city’s rooftops, reminding you with each glance that you couldn’t be anywhere else but in the French capital.
Maison Mère – 7 Rue Mayran, 75009 Paris