December 10, 2023

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Paris’s Newest Hotels Embrace Color and Quirk

4 min read

Until recently, few Parisian hotels dared to distract from the classic aesthetics of the city itself. The décor of its gilded palace hotels, single-minded embassies of French heritage, was, largely, fussy and excessively impersonal, as if a misplaced streak of color could break the city’s spell. Today the capital is finally overcoming its self-seriousness, thanks in part to its vibrant post-Brexit ascendancy in the contemporary arts and culture scenes. Many of its new hotels seek to delight rather than simply impress, and often conjure other worlds, as in the Marais’s Maison Proust, a candlelit Belle Époque fantasy half-hidden behind tasseled indigo velvet curtains, or the nearby Le Grand Mazarin, fashioned by the London-based Swedish designer Martin Brudnizki from contrasting styles and eras, all in a swirl of candy colors. “It took longer than New York and London,” says the Italian architect and designer Fabrizio Casiraghi, “but Paris is at last discovering the kind of small hotel that has something to say.”

Extroverted new hot spots typically pop up in the fashionable areas of the Right Bank, like the Marais, and the lively streets around the former red-light district Pigalle, now home to La Fantaisie. Also designed by Brudnizki, the pistachio and pastel yellow 73-room hotel, which opened in July, is a fanciful bucolic escape, with fruit trees growing on its rooftop bar and botanical mosaics tiling a trio of Roman-bath-style dipping pools; a dainty trellis-clad garden adjoins the California-inspired restaurant Golden Poppy, overseen by the San Francisco-based French chef Dominique Crenn. Rooms from about $440 a night.

Ahead of Paris’s upcoming Summer Olympic Games, and amid a yearslong tourism boom, a handful of attention-worthy boutique hotels are also arriving in quieter and lesser-known pockets of the city. L’Eldorado, which opened this July following a four-year renovation by the French hoteliers Pierre and Élodie Moussié and Sophie Richard, sits in the villagelike heart of the 17th Arrondissement, the upscale but unpretentious Batignolles. The romantic new neighborhood institution exudes a retro, cheetah-print and rattan-accented glamour that extends to a detached 19th-century house at the rear of a festive courtyard garden. Entering one of its 26 guest rooms evokes the sensation of slipping into a maximally patterned Victorian jewel box, cushioned from ceiling to bedspread in a lush House of Hackney velvet or linen print. Rooms from about $350 a night.

Across the Seine, Casiraghi is restoring a touch of wanderlust to Saint-Placide, the residential neighborhood where, the designer says, “truly Parisian, very bourgeois” locals still outnumber tourists. Named the Hôtel des Grands Voyageurs, this latest property has all the streamlined curves and restless optimism of sleeper trains and trans-Atlantic ocean liners. Its Franco-American brasserie serves seafood towers and, downstairs, a hidden bar invites visitors and locals alike to linger over cocktails, ensconced in a starry night-sky motif that also carpets the hotel’s 138 elegant rooms. Rooms from about $330 a night.

A clutch of small and exacting new hotels serve as welcoming refuges in the notoriously imposing Eighth Arrondissement. Among them: the delicately imagined Château des Fleurs, which opened in the spring, and more recently, the fall newcomer Norman Hôtel and Spa. The latter pays tribute to its namesake, the American artist and graphic designer Norman Ives, with an eclectic, convivial mix of neutral-toned midcentury modern furnishings. Past the courtyard cafe and the plush ground-floor lobby, which includes a library nook with a fireplace, are 29 sharply tailored rooms and eight suites, many of which are designed to interconnect. Rooms from about $533 a night.

Further along the Champs-Élysées, an area generally antithetical to quirkiness, is the new, charmingly offbeat Hôtel de la Boétie. The Swedish designer Beata Heuman, who is based in London, created the hotel with Touriste, a Parisian brand known for partnering with rising designers on their first hotel projects. Here, she preserved the original building’s unassuming 1970s-era entryway while remaking its 40 guest rooms in a bold, mischievous palette of periwinkle, emerald green and gleaming dark navy. Above beds dressed in prim baby pink satin hang bespoke woven headboards, featuring rococo motifs borrowed from the marble tiling of Florentine chapels. Breakfast is served in an airy, minimalist room that could be mistaken for one in Stockholm were it not for the supersaturated three-foot-long painting of a quintessentially French messy midmorning table, strewn with flaky viennoiseries, tiny strawberries and a half-smoked cigarette. Rooms from about $265 a night.

Zoey Poll

2023-11-08 18:16:45

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