Why stay in a boring old chain hotel when there are such a range of unusual hotels in France’s capital? Here’s my choice of the best Paris hotels from a quirky perspective.
One by The Five
Oh, I so want to stay in this remarkable Paris hotel. This St Germain hotel is situated near the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Pantheon, it looks spectacular. The enormous bed in the dreamily lit bedroom is meant to resemble a cloud, suspended from the wall, with stars and clouds painted above and below and extravagantly gorgeous white bed linen. This is situated in an apartment with two bathrooms, a living room and a chandelier-endowed dance floor!
Mod cons include an ipod with a large choice of music, and a tv in the bathroom mirror. Guests are provided with champagne and fruit on arrival. What a romantic weekend you could have here! (Ok maybe the tv isn’t a requirement for that.) For over the top Parisian luxury and an imagination that we could all do with, I can’t think of any better place to stay for a dirty weekend in Paris.
If the price of this apartment is a bit too much, the Five Hotel which it’s connected to, is also an extremely well designed luxury hotel. Beautifully coloured, fibre-optic lit rooms with a choice of scent to create your own special atmosphere and friendly and helpful staff, this is a slightly better choice if you’re on a budget.
Typical prices One by the Five: £700 per night
Five Hotel: Superior Glimmering with Baldaquin* (not joking) £218
*Definition baldaquin from freedictionary.com is
1. (Clothing, Personal Arts & Crafts / Textiles) a richly ornamented silk and gold brocade
2. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Architecture) a canopy of fabric or stone over an altar, shrine, or throne in a Christian church or carried in Christian religious processions over an object of veneration
3, rue Flatters, 75005
Beehome Guest House
A different proposition altogether, the Beehome is a charming Paris b&b character. It’s a self-contained 30m2 apartment with a country style breakfast room within the beautifully decorated home of artist Brigitte. It’s situated in the 17th arrondissement b&b, very handily near the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe.
Breakfast includes freshly baked croissants and bread, jam from Honfleur (where they run another b&b, and recently introduced French honey (they’re a friend to bees.) And if you should want Ayurvedic massage, you can have it!
Typical prices 2 people 170 euros
98 Avenue de Ternes
Manoir de Beauregard
If like being treated like royalty (in a good way – I’m not thinking Marie Antoinette here), this is the place for you. As the name would suggest this 19th arrondissement b&b is actually in an eighteenth century manor house, situated near the beautiful and quirky Parc des Buttes Chaumont, five minutes’ walk away from two metro stops and a 20 minute journey away from Charles de Gaulle airport.
The large rooms are decorated in traditional country style with luxurious bedroom and bathroom linen, and if you’re a minimalist at heart this won’t be for you. Marie Rose and Georges, the owners, go out of their way to make their guests comfortable with welcome drinks, and breakfasts served on best china and silver are also to die for, with fresh orange juice, home-made jam, cheese and real hot chocolate.
Typical prices: Fantastically good value 135 to 165 euros
43 Rue des Lilas
The location’s the draw with this hotel, but it’s very small and quirky to boot. It was built in the seventeenth century and has views to Notre Dame of all places. It’s decorated in the style shabby chic was based on – it’s not for minimalists amongst you. But it’s cosy and historic and clean with an excellently creaky and winding staircase up to your room.
The whole place was renovated in 2009 and has decent bathrooms, although no breakfast is offered. However, since you’re right in the heart of the Latin Quarter you’re spoilt for choice with regard to alternatives. Be warned – book well in advance.
Typical prices: Double 95 – 110 euros
4 Rue St Julien Le Pauvre
Atelier Saint Germain Hotel
Another well located hotel, this is in the Montparnasse area, ten minutes’ walk away from the Jardin du Luxembourg. It’s another small one – only 17 rooms, and each has a bathroom that features a mosaic version of a famous painting.
It seems that it was being renovated earlier this year, so I’d love to hear from anyone who’s stayed there recently. Don’t expect large rooms – you’ll not find them, but the staff are lovely!
Address: 49 Rue Vavin
The best hotels in Paris if you love history, luxury or quirkiness.
Hotel St Merry
This 3 star hotel is in the trendy Marais. There are plenty of bars and restaurants near these gorgeous gothic lodgings – it used to be part of the attached Eglise St-Merry. Elaborate medieval furnishings, flying buttresses in your room, wrought iron candelabra and wi-fi!
Although the rooms can be on the small side (not very unusual in Paris), for atmosphere and history this former brothel/presbytery (not at the same time) cannot be beaten.
Update – June 2012 I noticed this hotel is closed at the moment. It looks temporary – there are some building works going on, but it doesn’t give a re-opening date.
Hotel St Merry
78 rue de la Verrerie, Marais, 4e
1, Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy
Metro Châtelet or Hotel de Ville
RER Châtelet les Halles
Website Hotel St Merry, Le Marais
For a real treat – an anniversary weekend away, or a birthday treat – this is the place. This was formerly a Pavillon d’Amour where La Reine Margot (actually, there’s a really good film with Isabelle Adjani called La Reine Margot – would recommend) held her amorous dalliances. Oscar Wilde also breathed his last breath here when it was known as the Hotel d’Alsace. His last words may have been either “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go,” “I am dying beyond my means,” or, “I can’t even afford to die”. Whichever, they were all pearls of wit supposed to have been uttered in this particular hotel. There’s a plaque above the door dedicated to the old scoundrel, if you’d just like to see that instead.
L’Hotel is situated on the left bank in the midst of the bars and galleries, and near the Café Flore where you can go and sip coffee and pretend you’re a French intellectual. Beautifully and luxuriously decorated and extremely hip, if you’ve a bit of extra pocket money to distribute, then this is certainly a place to stay in.
13 Rue des Beaux Arts, 6e
Metro St Germain des Prés
Hotel de Nesle
This budget accommodation is in the Saint Germain area – so again, a great location in Paris. Half of the rooms are decorated in an individual, colourful way – with each dedicated to different aspects of the arts. Molière is represented, as is Notre Dame de Paris, and there’s even a Turkish style room with a hammam (a Turkish bath).
Beware though – booking is by phone only (even though they have an email address) and has been known to have failed. Re-confirm your booking before you go, and arrive earlier in the day to make sure you have a room to stay in! Another reason for making the effort, though, is the large garden with a pond and pathways.
Hotel de Nesle
7 Rue de Nesle, 6e
Website Hotel de Nesle
Hotel du Petit Moulin
Another Marais charmer, not far from Place des Vosges and Picasso Museum, this 4 star Christian Lacroix designed hotel is sumptuous and not for lovers of minimalism. A former boulangerie, some of the original features such as wooden beams and the original sign have been retained – and lots of sequins, pink fabric and industrial plastic have been added.
The beds are extremely comfy, and an added bonus is that the staff are lovely – not really expected in such a trendy place. The only downside that I’ve found is that a lot of the rooms have baths with hand-held showers rather than stand-up showers, but hopefully this won’t be an insurmountable problem – just don’t wash!
Hotel du Petit Moulin
29/31 rue du Poitou, 3e
Metro Saint Sébastien Froissard or Filles du Calvaire
Website Hotel du Petit Moulin