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.
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.
© Room for Romance
L'Hotel was reviewed for Room for Romance by Adele Evans
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A complimentary bottle of champagne when you book a Chic or Grand room.