Once upon a time a trip to Paris meant an overpriced stay in a tourist-trap hotel, a trip up the Eiffel Tower and an omelette by the Arc de Triomphe, but as travellers’ tastes for the unique evolve, so does the French capital’s characterful hospitality offerings.
These days there’s no shortage of idiosyncratic boutique hotels on offer. Those looking for Instagram-ready vintage décor will find their bonheur at one of the crop of design-led addresses clustered in the trendy Sentier area in the centre and hip Pigalle in the north of the city. Meanwhile, there are some sumptuous boutique hideaways on offer for luxury lovers, as well as lower-cost, high-character options for travellers on a tighter budget.
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Best for sexy-meets-luxury weekends away: Sinner
Neighbourhood: The Marais
So sexy that guests may require a cold shower five minutes after stepping through its discreet entrance in the trendy Marais district, Sinner is a newly opened five-star like no other.
Décor takes inspiration from Catholicism with an added seductive twist – think wooden panelling that resembles a confessional booth in the lifts, stained-glass windows (that definitely don’t depict the life of our Lord) in the darkened corridors, and incense wafting from the in-house restaurant at night.
While ecclesiastical drama rules the roost in communal spaces, the rooms themselves offer a softer, more genteel, airy vibe. But make no mistake, sex is still very much on the menu: bespoke lube sits discreetly among the luxe toiletries in the bathroom, book titles on the shelf include the Marquis de Sade’s “The 120 Days of Sodom”, and those beds were definitely made for sin….
There’s also a spa, plus a concept store, The Crypt, in the lobby.
From €550 for a deluxe room
Best for living like a Parisian scenester: Le Pigalle
Located in the heart of the area historically known for its cabarets (Moulin Rouge included) and sex shops – more recently reborn as a hipster hub – this low-key address mixes laid-back cool and bawdy kitsch touches to create one of the most stylish accommodation options in Paris. Guests can relax and sample the small but tasty seasonal menu in the elegant open-plan lounge and admire the curated local art selection in their rooms – or else head out to one of the many neighbouring bars for cocktails and live music.
From €142 (£131) per room
Best for an opulent city hideaway: Le Nolinski
This boutique five-star may sit in the beating heart of Paris, but guests can enjoy serene, quiet seclusion in its chic blue-hued salons and opulent rooms and suites. The address stands out for its slinky subterranean spa, with its beautiful pool area and indulgent La Colline treatments.
When guests are ready to soak up the buzz of the city, the restaurant Brasserie Réjane offers palate-pleasing seasonal dishes and tasty cocktails in a chic but relaxed setting amid the thrum of Avenue de l’Opéra.
From €430 (£386) per room
Best for literary-themed luxury: L’Hôtel
If you have a penchant for literary history and an appetite for luxury, L’Hôtel cannot be beaten. Though today’s hotel is unquestionably swish (indeed it is Paris’s smallest five-star hotel), it was once the more modest Hôtel d’Alsace, where a penniless Oscar Wilde spent his last months – guests can opt to stay in the Oscar Wilde room where the author died in 1900, famously fighting a “duel to the death” with his wallpaper. Beyond its historical credentials, the hotel also offers Michelin-starred dining at Julien Montbabut’s Le Restaurant and eccentrically opulent décor from Jacques Garcia.
From €317 (£285) per room, including breakfast
Best for eccentric Ancien Régime character: Le Caron de Beaumarchais
Neighbourhood: The Marais
Be prepared to be transported back to the 18th-century at this eccentric and lovingly looked-after little hotel in the heart of the lively Marais area. The hotel’s owner, a keen collector, has arranged the lobby as an exquisite Ancien Régime drawing room, complete with silk wallpaper and Louis XVI-style furniture. The old-fashioned charm continues into the rooms, some of which feature pretty balconies overlooking the lively shopping and café district.
Closed until further notice
From €130 (£117) per room
Best for London cool in a Parisian setting: The Hoxton, Paris
This beautiful hotel’s setting, a grand 18th-century mansion house that once belonged to an adviser to Louis XV, is quintessentially Parisian, but the boutique chain’s London roots are in evidence with a laid-back feel and eclectic design touches. Soak up the local atmosphere with your morning coffee in the plant-decked courtyard. In the evening, retire to Jacques' Bar – decorated with a playful mix of English eccentricity and Moroccan influence – and pick from a range of custom cocktails. Travellers on a budget can plump for dinky, but Instagram-friendly, "Shoebox" rooms.
From €169 (£152) per room
Best for charming design at a reasonable price: Hotel Henriette
Neighbourhood: Gobelins/Latin Quarter
This cosy address located on a quiet road on the charming Left Bank offers excellent value for money with its homely but chic rooms (think natty rugs and vintage light fixtures) and gorgeous winter garden. The historic Latin Quarter, as well as the Luxembourg Gardens and Jardin des Plantes botanical gardens are all within close walking distance. Expect a low-key, friendly welcome, a charming hotchpotch of décor from designer Vanessa Scoffier and a tasty breakfast served in a sunny room overlooking the garden.
From €69 (£62) per room
Best for a bar with a view: Terrass Hotel
The view of the rooftops and Eiffel Tower from the hotel’s terrace bar are hard to beat, while the location allows for easy exploration of the bucolic slopes of Montmartre, with its windmills, vineyards and art museums, as well as swift access to the bars of Pigalle. Meanwhile, the hotel offers on-site cultural events and yoga lessons, as well as treatments at the in-house Nuxe spa.
From €111 (£100) per room
Best for a low-key hideaway: Square Louvois
Neighbourhood: Louvre, central
This stylish but unpretentious boutique hotel provides a calming retreat in a central location, with the Louvre and Galeries Lafayette shopping district a short walk away. As well as comfortable, well-appointed rooms, guests also have use of a subterranean spa and relaxation area, with a small pool and fitness space. Staff are attentive and helpful, from check-in to check-out.
From €160 (£144) per room
Best for local buzz: Hôtel des Grands Boulevards
Neighbourhood: Grands Boulevards
The Experimental Group, the hospitality maestros behind this design-led address, have been setting trends on the Paris scene for over a decade. At Hôtel des Grands Boulevards, the Grand Restaurant, set in a light-bathed courtyard and topped with a retractable glass ceiling has become a favourite with locals, along with the sumptuous cocktail bar, The Shell. Kitsch-chic styling continues into the rooms.
From €176 (£158) per room
Best for art lovers: Drawing Hotel
Neighbourhood: Louvre, central
Art enthusiasts will be in heaven at this centrally located boutique hotel, where each floor has been designed by a different contemporary artist and the lobby houses an art shop and "Drawing Lab". Comforts are not forgotten amid the theme – rooms are comfortable and well-appointed and the breakfast is very good.
From €143 (£132) per room
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