The most charming boutique hotels in Paris
Tucked into the Left Bank's 15th arrondissement, Vice Versa is as glamorous as the fantastical lingerie by designer Chantal Thomass. It's fitting, especially since she had a hand in crafting this hedonistic hotel. Each floor is inspired by one of the seven sins and includes intriguingly designed rooms and seductive spaces, all appropriately tucked between a crisp white "heavenly" lobby and "hellish" basement hammam. The 37 opulent rooms are bright, whimsical, and perfectly calibrated to the floor they're on. "Lust" rooms are fashioned with pink, pops of lace and female silhouettes; "pride" rooms are palatial and unashamedly lavished with gold accents; "greed" rooms are very Gordon Gekko-esque with mock international currency plastered all over the walls, and the "envy" rooms...well, you get the idea. Indulge in the sin of gluttony in the fairy-tale like breakfast room and with the original cocktails whipped up at the "honesty" bar.
Hidden in the quiet 3rd arrondissement—one of Paris' smallest—Les Bains is something of a chameleon. Over the years, it's been a private bathhouse where Marcel Proust used to take the waters; a hotspot for Belle Epoque bohemians; and a legendary nightclub frequented by Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol. These days, the Design Hotels property is a brooding, sophisticated bolthole that pays tribute to its storied past. Designed by Vincent Bastie, Tristan Auer and Denise Montel, the hotel features a clubhouse, a restaurant, a private lounge, a club, and 39 guest rooms. The décor here is as eclectic as the property's chequered past. There are black ceilings and corridors laced with local art; original features such as the Bacchus and nymphs near the entrance; and bamboo panels and Chinoiserie windows in the Salon Chinoise. In the rooms, retro design meets modern sensibilities with velvet banquettes and wood panelling, embroidered sheets, Marshall music systems, and bathrooms rendered in varnished mahogany, Carrera marble and Le Labo amenities. Make time for a dip in the basement pool and fresh cocktails at the centrepiece bar.
Hôtels des Academies et des Arts
Housed in the building where Modigliani had his studio, it seems appropriate that Hôtel des Academies et des Arts is a refined homage to the artists who once called the artistic Montparnasse district home. The epitome of Left Back chic and intellectual flair, this creative property also comes with a well-stocked library, cinema, spa, and beauty treatments on request. You could stroll down Boulevard Saint Germain and around the Jardins des Luxembourg for some Left Bank ambience, or you could just immerse yourself in all the art here, which includes Jérôme Mesnager's famed graffiti work and Sophie de Watrigant's sculptures. There are only 20 rooms, but each come with plenty of personality. The swish, theatrical Commedienne rooms are inspired by Kiki de Montparnasse and feature scarlet headboards and vibrant purple throws, while the bold Man Ray rooms channel masculine sophistication with their palettes of black, grey and white. Whichever you choose, you'll find all the necessary mod-cons and plenty of creature comforts such as luxe sheets, high-pressure hydroshowers, and Pascal Morabito bath products. Need to recharge? Stop in at the Chez Charlotte tearoom for a cuppa and some Pierre Hermé macrons.
At the heart of every good story is a grand romance, and the story behind Hotel Napoleon is no exception. In 1928, Russian businessman Alexander Pavlovich Kliaguine bought this grand 8th arrondissement property as a wedding present for the French student he fell in love with and eventually married. While the famed independent hotel has remained in the family through the years, it moved on from welcoming high society to being a hotel-of-choice for celebrities such as Eroll Flynn and Audrey Hepburn, as well as literati luminaries the likes of John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. Throughout the Preferred Hotels & Resorts property, Napoleon-inspired Empire style reigns supreme, lending a classic elegance to the property. The 102 guest rooms and suites combine modernity, functionality, and opulent, grand style with period-style furniture, flatscreen TVs, iPod docking, and L'Occitane amenities. Be sure to book the corner Junior Suite facing Avenue Friedland for extra space, a lounge area, and a private outdoor terrace with peek-a-boo views of the Arc de Triomphe.
Oscar Wilde famously breathed his last in this opulent Left Bank bolthole, proclaiming "either that wallpaper goes, or I do." Thankfully, this five-star hotel heeded his words and is now a glamorous bastion of quintessentially French style thanks to an extensive makeover by designer Jacques Garcia. Lovers of the Lost Generation will be in intellectual heaven here. The hotel's prime Left Bank position is just steps from Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots, the two eateries once frequented by Hemingway, Picasso, Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean-Paul Satre. Inside, you'll find a sexy subterranean pool—if you ask nicely, staff will fill it with candles for you—along with a library, a DVD collection, and spa treatments on request. When fatigue hits, curl up in one of the 20 theatrical, individually decorated rooms which feature rich colours, lush fabrics, flatscreen TVs, iPod docking, and complimentary WiFi and continental breakfasts. Pop into the Michelin-starred Le Restaurant for seasonal French plates by Philippe Belissent amidst a dimly-lit, romantic salon.
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