A spate of new hotel openings makes the French capital the hottest city to visit this season
We all know about the beauty of Paris – gorgeous architecture, world-class museums and oh-so stylish shops. Not to mention its incredible restaurants and delicious pâtisseries. But over the past year, we’ve noticed something afoot in the City of Light. As well as new concept stores and bars, design hotels are cropping up apace, so there’s more choice than ever for the aesthete.
We’ve picked three properties that not only have design cred by the bucketload, but also a rich history to match: The Peninsula, a grand, old-school hotel given a chic new lease of life; The Molitor, a former public swimming pool that’s now an achingly well-crafted hotel; and the stunning Les Bains, once a raging nightclub frequented by the likes of Mick Jagger and Kate Moss. Whichever you choose, as Audrey said (in Sabrina), Paris is always a good idea…
16th arrondissementThe lowdown: an Art Deco lido that’s now a hotel and members’ club.
Best for: design lovers who are partial to a dip.
The Molitor lido has been a 16th-arrondissement establishment since it opened in 1929, when it quickly became a hot spot for bathing beauties (the bikini made its first appearance here). The architectural masterpiece fell into disrepair during the Eighties, but has now been reincarnated as a high-end hotel, sports club and Clarins spa, complete with a restaurant and rooftop bar. Once likened to a cruise liner, the structure is an exemplar of Deco design. The sensitive restoration includes original stained-glass porthole windows and mosaic floors, teamed with concrete walls and exposed industrial fittings for a modern twist. Twenties-style furniture and icy-blue accents complete the look of the public spaces, while the 104 rooms and 20 suites boast sleek monochromes.
Our tip? Book a room overlooking the outdoor pool. Be sure to pack your bathers in winter; for the softies, there’s a 33m indoor piscine too.
Book it: double rooms from £158 (mgallery.com).
The lowdown: five-star luxury on the site of a former famed nightclub.
Best for: night owls looking to stay in a hipster part of town.
The Haussmann-era building that houses this 39-room hotel has a wonderfully colourful story. A few steps from the Pompidou Centre in the vibrant Marais district, it used to be the city’s most famous thermal bathhouse before it was transformed into the most notorious nightclub of the Seventies – Paris’s answer to NYC’s Studio 54, with Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Karl Lagerfeld and Kate Moss as regulars. The club closed in 2010, but it wasn’t long before the new owner, film-maker Jean-Pierre Marois, created the chic boutique hotel it is today.
The bar/restaurant remains a highlight – a moody, blood-red space, dripping with references to its heritage, from floor tiles that chime with the bathhouse theme to framed fluoro posters of Eighties gigs. French elegance best describes the bedrooms, which, with their distressed carpets and walls, have a timeless appeal. Will the hotel have as starry a guest list as the club had? We reckon so…
Book it: double rooms from approx £210 (designhotels.com).
The Peninsula, 16th arrondissement
The lowdown: old-school extravagance near the Arc de Triomphe.
Best for: glamourpusses eager to retrace the steps of Picasso or Proust.
Pack your finest for a trip to The Peninsula – the moment you set foot in the wonderfully OTT lobby, with its bespoke installation of 800 hand-blown crystal leaves, you know you’re in the land of luxe. One of Paris’s original grandes dames, it first opened as the Hotel Majestic in 1908 and played host to high society for several decades (including Stravinsky, Proust, Joyce and Picasso) before falling into government hands during the Second World War. Restoration to its former glory took six years and 40,000 pieces of gold leaf.
Every detail was painstakingly considered and each room features both sumptuous interiors in greys and creams and super-smart technology – there are even personal nail-varnish dryers in the dressing rooms.
Secure one of the suites with a private roof garden or courtyard and you’ll really be living la vie en rose…
Book it: double rooms from approx £570 a night (paris.peninsula.com).