By Lionel Pailles
Photographed by Sandrine Alouf
The Little Book Room, NY
Rarely do I regret having a place to call home in Paris, but now that I’ve perused Boutique and Chic Hotels in Paris, I have to admit I feel a little twinge of envy for those lucky visitors to Paris who have the good sense of adventure to ferret out these intimate havens. It helps to have author, Lionel Pailles and photographer Sandrine Alouf close at hand i.e. having their recently published book Boutique and Chic Hotels in Paris at your fingertips!
The combination of tantalizing prose and intimate photo portraits of these ‘insolite’ or out of the ordinary hotels makes me want to book a room – even if I don’t have a birthday or special occasion coming up. Is Pailles getting just a LITTLE suggestive when he writes “Away from prying eyes, deliciously clandestine in mood, these hotels welcome the secret love affairs of a happy few and the wanderlust of all.” Well, we’ll let that sentence stand without comment – oh, but of course, how can I resist? Yes, it’s true that Paris is teeming with behind the scenes couplings – the infamous – ‘cinq a sept’ encounters (5pm to 7 pm). But, for those of us who fall simply into the wanderlust category (which is heady enough itself!), here is plenty of food for your wanderlust spirit.
Romantic terraces and courtyards tucked away from big boulevards, side streets, some of which I’ve passed a dozen times in Montparnasse and never bothered to explore. Here’s a case in point: The Atelier des Beaux Arts located Rue de la Grande Chaumiere is just a stone’s throw away from Rue Vavin (one of the most famous intersections in literary history (with Le Dome and La Coupole and Le Select dominating the landscape).
The Atelier is described as a 400 sq foot artist’s studio which can only be booked for a minimum of two nights. Although built in 1895, the studio comes equipped with all the necessary 21st century accoutrements such as WIFI and flat screen TV. How much do you think it would cost for such a treat to have your own temporary artist’s studio (and kitchen!) in Montparnasse? Would you believe 130 Euros per night? Yes, I know this sounds too absurd, too good to be true but you can check it out for yourself. I won’t give away too many more of the ‘goodies’ listed in this guide book to boutique hotels. However, I will tell you that one of the much appreciated attributes of Pailles’ selections are the quality/price ration. You know that the frugal French flare for matching quality with exceptional price had to be one of Pailles’ prerequisites for choosing the 52 hotels he’s included in his guide book. On average, prices hover around the 250 Euros mark, but you’ll find some for as little as 90 Euros a night and others creeping up toward 390 Euros, but one has to believe that the pricier choices merit their rates.
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Of the 52 hotels, you may recognize some from past Why Go? Paris unusual hotels posts (such as the Hotel St. Merri), but I have to be honest – when it comes to boutique hotels this is a niche market where I was very happy to get some good guidance. In addition to providing all the details accompanied by photos that succeed in capturing the spirit of each hotel, Boutique and Chic Hotels gives you a short summary of interesting sights and museums within walking distance of each hotel. The hotels are well distributed throughout a number of Paris’s Right and Left Bank neighborhoods. Also, the design styles of each hotel vary greatly from traditional, eclectic, to ultra-modern, to gallery hotels (where you can actually buy some of the furniture designs in your room). It’s great to know that you don’t have to be a millionaire to find your favorite ’boutique hotel’ in Paris. Another benefit of opting for a boutique hotel is the opportunity to get personal attention. One of these hotels even offers each of its guests a ‘personal assistant’ (The Hotel Sezz which has appeared in a number of recent hotel reviews).
Even if Parisgirl may not have the pleasure of languouring (yes the verb form of this adjective -languourous- doesn’t exist except in my mind!) in some of these cool digs, I’m thrilled to pass along this enticing proposition to any readers who are planning their honeymoon trips – or a romantic voyage for two with their ‘certain someone’ who will appreciate your knack of finding ‘just the right place’ to discover Paris and each other!
Boutique and Chic Hotels in Paris
by Lionel Pailles
Photographs Sandrine Alouf
Publisher: The Little Book Room, New York
Price: $16.95/ UK 9.99
(As always, Little Book Room publications will slip into your handbag or carry-on in a handy square paperback format!)
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L’Atelier des Beaux Arts Photo:
©Joelle Charbonneaux (see Atelier des Beaux Arts for more photos of the interior!)