Iconic and shamelessly romantic hotel on the Rive Gauche
THIS ICONIC AND SHAMELESSLY ROMANTIC Paris hotel has it all for a weekend love-in: a fabulous location in chi-chi Saint-Germain, totally individualistic style and lashings of laidback cool
You’ll find L’Hôtel tucked away on the cobbled rue des Beaux-Arts – surrounded by the galleries, bars and boutiques of the Left Bank
. Oscar Wilde famously breathed his last here in 1900 (sighing “I suppose I shall just have to die above my means”) and the place is rife with literary connections.
Named as Harper’s best urban hotel in the world in 2008, L'Hôtel was the 1960s Left Bank address where glitterati such as Princess Grace, Frank Sinatra, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton lingered. Following its latest makeover by designer Jacques Garcia, this opulent and intimate Left Bank hideaway
is now an indulgent and atmospheric retreat.
Traces of L'Hôtel's illustrious past are everywhere:
foyer walls are adorned with drawings by Jean Cocteau, while the bar is lined with photos of showbiz guests – among them Sean Penn, Johnny Depp, Mick Jagger, Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino.
Hit the spot
In the heart of Saint Germain – where better?
Time-travel the world in exotic and atmospheric bedrooms.
Mignon rooms are snug, while Chic are better – more space and quiet courtyard views.
Left Bank hideaway made for loved-up liaisons.
Inside, step into a fantasy of rich, warm décor, plush velvets, Venetian marble, brass wall sconces and freshly-cut orchids. L’Hôtel’s signature curved staircase rises up through all six floors
, topped by a glass cupola through which sunlight pours in.
There’s also a frescoed salon, and a plush Louis XIV style bar with stripey sofas
where you can try a cocktail named in Oscar Wilde’s honour. Johnny Depp is often to be seen in the bar, with its deep armchairs, leather-bound tomes and sexy lighting
. The restaurant flaunts leopard print carpet, aubergine striped sofas and marbelised columns.
Sumptuously theatrical bedrooms are themed around the famous names who have stayed. You could find yourselves in art deco, Ottoman or neo-classical surrounds
or even the very British Oscar Wilde suite – a distinctly masculine room with a splendid peacock mural and private terrace.
There's also the 18th century Madame de Merteuil’s bordello-style boudoir
(she of Les Liaisons Dangereuses fame) and the Marco Polo room (favoured by Sean Penn) where I stayed too. This is one of the Chic rooms overlooking the courtyard, with a balcony over the rooftops of the Left Bank.
The silk wall-coverings, tassels, huge ming vases and big bed make this an oasis of seductive opulence.
Room 20, Napoleon III is one of the five snug Mignon rooms overlooking the street. Despite its small size there is a huge antique mirror decorated with cherubs above the bed
which lend a pleasing trompe l’oeil effect.
The Léopard room growls with sultry leopardskin prints
, while others sport Italian Baroque, Indochine or ancient Japanese motifs. Marble bathrooms boast old-style tubs big enough to set sail in, while the penthouse flat boasts a terrace overlooking Parisian rooftops. Bathtime potions in scents of lavender and sweet orange are specially made for the hotel.
For a decadent treat you’ll find a subterranean mosaic-tiled hammam and Roman-style dipping pool
in the downstairs vaults complete with mini waves. Bookable just for two, this hedonistic watery world is the perfect place to sip champagne by candlelight.
L’Hôtel’s location in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is almost as good as its interiors. You’re in the heart of the Rive Gauche here, within easy reach of Paris's
grand literary cafes. Charming young staff are happy to go the extra mile.
L'Hôtel was reviewed for Room for Romance by Adele Evans
Click on any picture to enlarge it and move through the gallery.
L’Hôtel’s chic Le Restaurant (what else?) is the place for an intimate dinner à deux. Chef Philippe Bélisse has won a Michelin star here for modern French gastronomy at its best. House specialiities include Le Cochon de Lait, marinaded, spit-roasted young suckling pig
and Le Chocolat – a divinely decadent chocolate tart studded with hazelnuts
. The menu is small with four choices for starters, main courses and puddings.
Breakfast is taken in Le Restaurant or in the adjoining courtyard garden. Although small with seating for about a dozen people, strategically-placed mirrors convey a more spacious feel. A fountain with scallop-shape trickles – think Botticelli’s Venus.
Five minutes away in Saint-Germain is the famous Brasserie Lipp, Other great local places are Le 21 and Le Comptoir du Relais, both less than ten minutes walk away. Call in for coffee or aperitifs at the world-famous Les Deux Magots on Boulevard Saint-Germain.
See & Do
Le Restaurant at L’Hôtel.
Pan-fried rack of Lozère lamb, poultry from Bresse and line-caught sea bass. Polish off with poached peaches and liquorice icecream.
Dress the part
It's a place to get glammed up – think hip Parisian.
Nab table nine – right in the middle – to see and be seen.
You could spend a week in the Louvre, but then how would you fit in Paris’s other blockbuster sights like Notre Dame, Montmartre, Musée d’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower and boat trips on the Seine? With so much to take in around Saint-Germain – there are galleries and boutiques galore – you may not even make it past the Left Bank. There's also the newest museum to the Parisian scene to see: Musée du Quai Branly. This is spectacular not only for its architecture but also as the most impressive permanent exhibition of non-European art ever assembled.
If you can’t find any must-buys in Paris, then Paris is not for you. From Christian Lacroix to Yves Saint Laurent, a score of top designer names call the city home. Check out the haute couture along the grand boulevards, pick up some sexy lingerie at Capucine Puerari or Sabbia Rosa, and check out some of the backstreet galleries and patisseries.
Saint Germain and the Latin Quarter rarely have an early night. If you can stay the pace, head off to the stylish lounge bar L’Echelle de Jacob, just around the corner.
Make a date
Enjoy the concerts, poetry, open air theatre and antiques fair of the Foire Saint-Germain.
The river is the centrepiece of the Fêtes de Seine, with fireworks and sales of bric-à-brac along the quays.
Rue des Beaux-Arts, 75006 Paris
No guest parking – but you wont need a car here.
Mainline TGV station – Gare du Nord, 30 minutes.
Nearest Metro – Montparnasse.
Around EUR 60 from the airport. Private transfers can be arranged.
Paris Orly – 20km.
Rooms and suites
16 rooms, four suites.
Richly decorated rooms come with a radio, minibar, satellite TV, wi-fi and a CD player so you can play your favourite tunes.
There’s a subterranean pool and hammam in the cellar made strictly for two. A computer in a corner of the lobby is freely available to all guests.
EUR 300 - 640
Open all year
Minimum night stay?
Breakfast is served until 11 am, so no early rising required.
Available morning and evening
Yes – all rooms.
French, English, Italian, Spanish and German
Caroline Piel – general manager