You’re finally taking that dream trip to the City of Light. Or maybe you’re a Paris-obsessed francophile who visits every year, and the enticement of a youthful new president (Emmanuel Macron is the youngest in French history) has ensnared you.
After a difficult year for tourism following another high-profile terrorist attack, Paris has reclaimed its spot as one of the most popular cities in the world. In fact, the number of hotel overnights in January reached a 10-year high for the month.
Paris is a laboratory for experimental hotel concepts and creative design, and the world’s largest market for Airbnb.
No matter your personality type, you’ll find lodgings that are pinch-yourself perfect. Here’s our guide:
Backpackers: Did you know you can camp in the heart of Paris? Not far from Montparnasse, the former Saint-Vincent-de-Paul hospital is being repurposed into an “eco-neighborhood” in the 14th arrondissement. In the meantime, the vast verdant site is home to Les Grands Voisins, a community-centric project with cafes, nonprofit organizations, artists’ studios, organic gardens and even its own campground, with tents and cute cabins such as the popular La Cahute, a mobile miniature maison crafted in Brittany.
Two-person tents cost 22 euros a night (about $25) and are available until Oct. 1, but take note that this is the final season.
Hostels aren’t just for backpacking 20-somethings. FIAP welcomes both groups and individuals, young and old alike, and offers community-center ambiance with a cafe and rotating exhibitions. Generator Hostel made a splash when it debuted as a “poshtel” in 2015, with the idea that affordable rooms don’t have to compromise on style or comfort. Between Belleville and Menilmontant, the beautifully designed Les Piaules hostel offers a panoramic rooftop terrace and free WiFi.
Penny-pinchers: Can you find a Paris bolthole for less than 150 euros a night? Oui, and they’re not fleabags, though keep in mind that Paris hotel rooms can be quite small. In addition to the aforementioned hostels, you’ll find affordable rates and friendly service at the Hotel Mayet, which is within walking distance — along the lovely rue du Cherche-Midi — of the bustling heart of Saint Germain. The Grand Hotel Leveque has developed a word-of-mouth reputation as a great budget option in the Eiffel Tower area; an added bonus is its location on the rue Cler, a wonderful market street in the shadow of La Dame de Fer.
Across the river, in a nontouristy area of the ninth arrondissement, the Hotel du Temps is a small neighborhood hotel with soul; the rooms are stylishly decorated with a vintage, 1950s look.
Not far from the Jardin des Plantes, the Hotel La Demeure has a welcoming, friendly vibe. Flavie+Paul, a young Parisian design duo, created a colorful, playful ambiance with the modern decoration and space-saving elements in the guest rooms. Note that this family-owned hotel plans to upgrade from a three-star to a four-star establishment, so room rates are likely to change. Also note that the Elegancia Hotels group has a number of stylish boutique properties, such as the Hotel Crayon and the Hotel Crayon Rouge, that won’t break the bank.
History buffs: There’s no shortage of history-steeped hotels in Paris: Le Meurice, where Salvador Dalí walked his pet ocelots; L’Hotel, where a dying Oscar Wilde said “either the wallpaper goes or I do.”
Some of the most interesting of them are newly reconverted buildings with legendary past lives. Say the word Molitor and Parisians will spin tales of bronzed bodies frolicking in the summer sun. Dedicated in 1929, the famous Art Deco pool complex was where the first bikini had its debut. Today, it’s a hotel with a Clarins spa and rooftop garden terrace as well.
In the hip third arrondissement, Les Bains is the cool kid on the block. It was city’s first spa (Proust took the waters), then in the 1970s became a Philippe Starck-designed nightclub where Andy Warhol, David Bowie and Jean-Michel Basquiat danced on the famous checkerboard dance floor. Today, it’s a five-star hotel tucked behind a Haussmannian facade with a Bacchus bust, a nod to its hedonistic history.
And within the next few years, LVMH will open an ultraluxurious Cheval Blanc hotel inside a historic department store, La Samaritaine, overlooking the Seine.
Homebodies: In Paris, you can choose to bed down in a vacation-rental apartment or perhaps play house in a pied-à-terre overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Companies such as Paris Perfect offer more than 100 apartments in various neighborhoods, complete with hotel-style services. Request a fully stocked refrigerator, breakfast delivery, or souffle-cooking classes with chef Philippe Excoffier, who used to work as the head chef at the American Embassy. Founder Madelyn Willems stresses the importance of having round-the-clock Paris staff available to help guests. The jewel in the crown is 25 Place Dauphine, tucked away on a picturesque square on the Ile de la Cite, the island that is home to Notre-Dame Cathedral. For years, backpackers flocked to a squalid little hotel — a total dive with communal bathrooms — called the Hotel Henri IV. This prized property fell on hard times, its beams rotting, desperate for some TLC, until Paris Perfect saved it with a restoration overseen by Gabor Mester De Parajd, France’s chief architect of historic monuments. Now, it’s home to six apartments with state-of-the-art kitchens.
Airbnb users are spoiled for choice in Paris, where the offerings run the gamut from shared rooms to sprawling luxury apartments. The world’s largest
community-driven hospitality company has also rolled out a portfolio of bookable local experiences; think bike tours, wine tastings and private guitar concerts. When picking your crash pad, a few tips: analyze the reviews; use Google Maps’ “street view” technology to assess the neighborhood (and make sure you’re not on a loud, heavily trafficked boulevard); and ask your host what floor the apartment is on. Is there an elevator? If you don’t see certain amenities in the listing, be sure to ask. Coffee addicts won’t want to wake up — mon Dieu! — without access to a coffee machine.
High-rollers: Paris is home to some of the most luxurious hotels in the world — so posh, in fact, that they merit their own “palace hotel” classification. These 10 landmarks are destinations in themselves, and promise a check-all-the-boxes guest experience. Think dreamy spas, Michelin-starred restaurants and art-filled rooms so gorgeous that you might never want to leave. Bien sûr, they’ve got a price tag to match. The newest of this elite bunch is La Reserve Paris, a sumptuous Jacques Garcia-designed hotel not far from the Elysee Presidential Palace. Here, the Parisian beaux mondes rub shoulders with out-of-town visitors in the buzzy restaurants and the Duc de Morny library, which morphs into a jazz lounge in the evening. On the fashionable avenue Montaigne, Hotel Plaza Athenee has a Dior spa and a Michelin three-starred restaurant by Alain Ducasse, who champions a sustainable “Naturality” menu starring fish, veggies and grains. Vegetables, including ancient and rare varietals, are exclusively cultivated at the Jardin de la Reine at the Chateau de Versailles.
Occupying the former mansion of Prince Roland Bonaparte, Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, the Shangri-La Hotel Paris has the only luxury accommodations facing the Eiffel Tower, and a quarter of the rooms have a balcony or terrace with eat-your-heart-out views.
In his lifetime, flora-obsessed Roland Bonaparte created Europe’s largest herbier. And at the new Botanist Bar, you can sip a potent cocktail crafted with interesting plants and herbs, such as Sichuan peppers, tonka beans, even pine cones.
Fans of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” will recognize Le Bristol, which served as one of its sets. With exquisite dining by chef Eric Frechon and a teak-lined pool resembling a yacht floating above the Paris rooftops, it’s easy to see why soccer star David Beckham shacked up here when he played a season for Paris Saint-Germain.
Next in line to nab the palace title surely is the Ritz, which made international headlines when it reopened last year after a no-holds-barred renovation.
Romantics: Arguably, any place in Paris is saturated in romance, but in addition to the palace hotels, there are a few standouts. The Pavillon de la Reine is housed inside a 17th-century hotel particulier (nobleman’s mansion) on the prettiest square in Paris: the Place des Vosges in the Marais. From under the arcades, duck inside the leafy courtyard to find this discreet four-star address.
Between the Champs-Elysees and the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, the Hotel Daniel is a showcase of 18th-century French Orientalist style; think chinoiserie-inspired wallpaper and exotic toile de Jouy.
With its ancient timber beams, Versailles parquet floors, a monumental fireplace and a jazz piano bar, Hotel d’Aubusson has an unbeatable location in the SaintGermain-des-Pres district.
Dressed to the nines in Carrara marble and hand-painted walls, the Nolinski Paris opened in July 2016 on the Avenue de l’Opera. The rooms are so stunning — is that an armoire imagined as a travel trunk in lacquered wood? — that you’ll pine to take a piece home with you. Luckily, you soon can; a catalogue will highlight custom decor — such as cubist-style mirrors by Cassimidy — available to order. Great food can be found at the hotel’s Brasserie Rejane, and the subterranean spa features treatments by La Colline skin care.
In the seventh arrondissement, Le Cinq Codet was conceived by Jean-Philippe Nuel, one of France’s most in-demand hotel designers. The custom decor is striking; the lobby desks, for example, look like Rodin’s blocks of marble, in homage to the nearby Rodin museum. The duplex suites are decorated in oak paneling, while the Dome suite has a terrace overlooking the gold Dome des Invalides. There’s also an open-air Jacuzzi on the patio in the spa.
Trendsetters: In Paris, you’ll find thrilling new hospitality concepts. Case in point: MOB Hotel, Of the People, founded by philosopher-entrepreneur Cyril Aouizerate. He has teamed up with Steve Case, longtime friend Starck, and business magnate Michel Reybier on what he calls a new “movement — “not a hotel chain.”
Leave it to Aouizerate to pinpoint the cool, emerging neighborhoods, and Saint-Ouen, a northern suburb which is home to the famous Marche aux Puces antiques market, is seeing a renaissance. Here, inside a red brick building that was former a telecom facility, MOB opened in March. Film screenings and cultural events are hosted, neighbors cultivate the vegetable garden, and a rotating roster of start-ups are allowed to use workspace free. There’s an organic restaurant, an expansive outdoor terrace, and pop-up shops to showcase the work of young creatives. A true innovation is the “Air Mob Lounge” where guests can nap, shower, or make international calls in the Skype phone booth — all before check-in. In the rooms, fun, playful touches abound: air mattresses for additional guests; teepees; smartphones for guests’ personal use during their stay; and shadow-puppet theaters behind the headboards. Future locations include the District (near Union Market), Lyon and Los Angeles.
Also coming soon: Yooma, a new “urban lodge” concept decorated by French designer Ora-ïto in collaboration with artist Daniel Buren, who sculpted the facade — his biggest permanent work in Paris after the striped columns in the Palais Royal courtyard. Situated in the 15th arrondissement next to the Seine and Le Cordon Bleu’s new cooking-school campus, Yooma aims to create a “lifestyle ecosystem” and bring together visitors and locals. Other features: a rooftop garden; a lobby robot to check guests in; artists in residence; a cooking school; and rooms accommodating up to six guests.
Fringers: For a nautical experience, check into Off Paris Seine, the city’s first floating hotel. This custom-built barge — complete with a trendy lounge and a little pool — is docked near the Gare de l’Austerlitz.
Love art? In the heart of the city, the new Drawing Hotel was founded by Carine Tissot, who heads the contemporary art fair DRAWING NOW PARIS. Six artists were commissioned to decorate the corridors on the hotel’s five floors. Hotel perks include an art concierge and a private art center called the Drawing Lab.
For amorous couples looking to take it up a notch, check into the “erotic suite” at the 9Hotel Montparnasse. In a convivial neighborhood in the 14th arrondissement, the 43-room hotel recently opened a stand-alone wood cabin in its own private garden. This cedar-lined nest comes with a sensorial shower, a super-comfy bed, and bespoke furniture. (The bedside tables are repurposed tree trunks.) Granted, La Cabane is also perfect for solitude-seekers, but with the “Your Lovebox” amenity, full of sensual accessories, we can see why the hotel has marketed it as a suite for playing out your “Fifty Shades” fantasies.
Calling all foodies. Fauchon, the famous gourmet food emporium on the Place de la Madeleine, will be opening an eponymous hotel in 2018. Let’s hope their pretty éclairs are part of the turndown service.
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