Designer Michael Jouannet has brought a soft, relaxing vibe to rooms at the Villa Madame
Paris is experiencing an explosion of hotels—from the world’s first “detox hotel” to elegant pied-à-terres created by top designers. While exploring the city to find the newest accommodations, Travel Agent discovered four noteworthy boutique hotels located in distinct neighborhoods and offering diverse personalities appealing to different clientele.
Are your clients looking to experience the chic and historic rive gauche?
Those in the know should book Villa Madame, a discreet address near Saint Sulpice. It’s easy to be taken with the charms of the quartier. In the heart of Saint-Germain, the lovely little alley of a street was originally part of the Luxembourg Gardens until Crown Prince Louis XVIII sold the plot and parceled it into streets, naming one Rue Madame for his wife. The Villa Madame opened in January and recalls traditional Parisian apartments of yesteryear, complete with a landscaped inner courtyard for quiet relaxation. Like a refined private home, the property focuses on personalized service for each guest. Bottles of water, Wi-Fi and international phone calls are free of charge. A generous breakfast consists of freshly baked croissants, eggs cooked to order and high-quality products from the crêmerie next door. And the team, led by owner Gilles Delfau and his son Franck, can arrange a variety of activities in Paris, from chocolate excursions to cheese and wine tastings. The feel? Casual elegance, without pretense.
With room rates starting at around $320, the Villa Madame is a great luxury value. Decorated by designer Michael Jouannet (the style guru behind the redesign of the Cipriani in Venice and the Cataratas in Iguazu), the hotel channels a feminine aesthetic. The 28 rooms—including a suite with a terrace—are done up in soft gray and red or mauve. A small orchid or plant is mounted on the wall in front of each room. Inside, designer furniture, Barbier light fittings and marble bathrooms set the scene. Hermès bath amenities are a nice touch. We liked #32 because it’s flooded with light from two windows overlooking the charming street. Note that three rooms on the fifth floor have small balconies/terraces.
Contact Nicolas Gallo (011-331-4548-0281, [email protected]) for reservations and information.
The ultra-modern lounge at Hotel Gabriel carries out the property’s “pure” motif, with its use of soft lighting and white furnishings
Sitting on the edge of the trendy Marais district near Republique, Hotel Gabriel is unique in the world as a “detox hotel.” Envisioned by owner Jean-Pierre Marois, this cutting-edge concept is all about mind-body purification. From the lotions we slather on our skin to the foods we ingest, from the stress at work to lack of sleep, we accumulate physical and emotional toxins in our bodies—so says famous author Dr. Alejandro Junger, a friend of Marois’. In fact, Marois is a self-professed pupil of Junger’s philosophy. Little wonder that his hotel is devoted to the body’s well-being, focused on reviving the immune system through three principles: sleep, food and spa treatments.
Since its opening in March, the four-star property has already become a darling of the fashion and music industry. A vision in white by architect-designer Axel Schoenert, the property exudes a sense of purity with its soft, gentle lines and white-washed walls. Schoenert used Hi-Macs (a versatile, non-porous material) for the hotel’s creative theme: an illuminated cut-out of white dancing figures found throughout the property. Like most hotels in Paris, the rooms are small, but resemble cozy cocoons and showcase a real economy of space (i.e., luggage is stored in a special compartment under the bed). Minimalist Zen decor is complemented by contemporary art from Australian Mark Stuart. All 41 rooms have flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations, LED lighting and free Wi-Fi access. For clients looking for a little more space, book the suite (#503), which boasts a balcony.
Nice touch: Berg bottled water from the Canadian icebergs and bath amenities by Korres Natural Products, created in a homeopathic pharmacy in Athens.
Insomniacs will meet their match at Hotel Gabriel. Ten rooms have the NightCove Sleep Support System by Zyken. Developed in partnership with designer Patrick Jouin and sleep expert Professor Damien Léger, the machine has music/light programs to stimulate melotonin production. After a restful night’s sleep, guests gorge on a bountiful organic breakfast and 30 varieties of Kusmi detox teas, or indulge in spa treatments at the hotel’s Detox Room by Bioo. This is the first such room for the cutting-edge brand since its spa in Megève. A range of tailor-made treatments are available, including the Biooster Grog, an orange-and-herb beauty drink said to have a powerful detoxifying effect on the skin. Nice perk: VIP passes to the exclusive Klay health club just round the corner.
Rooms With a View
The new Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan has dazzling views of the glittering Eiffel Tower. Opened in May, the sleek boutique property is in the Trocadero area in the 16th arrondissement, a district not usually frequented by Americans. Besides the proximity to the great Parisian monument, the advantage of staying in this neighborhood is experiencing quintessential Parisian life: ducking into local boutiques and gathering in the cafés.
The interiors by François Champsaur present a contemporary palate of designer decor, wood floors and marble bathrooms. In the lobby, white leather chairs contrast with black tables backed by a working fireplace in gold and black. Spanning three categories (Classic, Deluxe and Suite), the 48 rooms come with Nespresso coffee machines, Anne Sémonin bath products and free Wi-Fi. Five of the 10 suites have views of France’s most-visited monument. We loved the Eiffel Tower views framed in a porthole window in the spacious Eiffel Tower One-Bedroom Suite, the hotel’s top dig. Filled with light, Suite #211 has higher ceilings and abundant windows. A rarity in a hotel this size are the counter-current pool, hammam and massage room. The restaurant boasts an open kitchen, “like a TV,” joked General Manager Alexandre Fougerole, “with only one channel.”
Tip: Your clients won’t want to miss an aperitif at the bar, sampling specialty drinks concocted by the barman formerly of the illustrious George V. Recommend The Eiffel, a vodka and champagne-based cocktail glittering with gold flakes just like the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night, clearly visible from the bar. The Clés d’Or concierge assures a personalized welcome and can handle any kind of request, whether snagging tickets to sold-out concerts or making reservations at the hottest tables in town. For bookings, contact Director of Sales and Marketing Nadege Kollhoff (011-331-5690-4008, [email protected]) or Front Office and Desk Manager David Abraham (011-331-5690-4004, [email protected]).
A Grand Entrance and More
Fans of the Hotel Urban in Madrid and the Hotel Claris in Barcelona will want to check into the new Hotel Banke, the latest property from the Derby Hotels Collection. Behind a facade typical to the Grand Boulevards in the Opéra district, a dramatic glass-domed lobby is filled with flamenco music. Historic vestiges remain from the hotel’s previous incarnation as a bank: an elaborate mosaic floor and the original teller counters. The hotel’s opulent public areas cater to guests with lavish tastes, such as red velvet curtains draped at the entrance and an oversized gold couch.
The Spanish-owned hotel group is known for two signatures: its art collections and rooftop terraces. The 94-room Hotel Banke is no different. It will soon display in its public areas a collection of jewels from ancient civilizations, and the not-yet-opened roof terrace will boast views to Sacre-Coeur. There’s also a tapas bar and restaurant. Coming this month: a Spa Zone with sauna and hammam (but no actual spa treatments). We found the standard rooms to be small, though #201, a Junior Suite, had ample space plus a Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. Note that the sixth-floor rooms have the best views. Contact Business Manager Fabienne Duvivier or Anna Pons, director of marketing, for assistance with VIP reservations.
With a degree in French and a passion for all things French, Jenny Moehring of The Travel Authority has numerous recommendations for Paris, her favorite city in the world. “I love the Hotel San Regis. It’s very small, very deluxe; a perfect location that even has Eiffel Tower views from some rooms. The service my clients have had there has been superb. I also love the tiny hotels on the Île Saint-Louis, but they are not deluxe by any means.”
As for restaurants, Moehring recommends the Île Saint-Louis for its incomparable ambiance. “That tiny island is so cute and tucked away just behind Notre Dame, right in the middle of the city. Another off-the-beaten-track restaurant that I love is Le Train Bleu in the Gare de Lyon: very Parisian!”
Instead of fighting all the crowds to go up the Eiffel Tower, Moehring recommends that her clients climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. “The views from the top are spectacular and there are all sorts of interesting exhibits and artifacts on each level as you ascend the stairways.
“Lastly,” she adds, “I always suggest that my clients go to one of the grand department stores and spend some time browsing. It is fascinating to see the array of different products and gadgets that are not readily available in the U.S. I especially like the hardware, kitchenware and sporting goods departments at Galeries Lafayette. Its rooftop café with a dome also has great views over Paris.”
Hotel Banke's opulent public areas recall its past as a bank