LucireLucire home page / Fashion / / Volante: travel features and news / Living / Lucire: Insider blog
News headlines / Lucire Reader Forum / Subscribe to the print editions of Lucire
Lucire Community 
Lucire feedback 
Subscribe to the Lucire Insider feed
Subscribe to Lucire

volante: france

Paris: inns en route
Paris: inns en route

Hôtel Villa St Germain


Stanley Moss samples some of Paris’s inns in one of our most comprehensive guides. (All properties can be booked via
Expanded from issue 15 of Lucire


Hôtel Relais St Jacques
This lovely four-star 22-room property, tucked away off a quiet stretch of the Boulevard St Michel on the rue de l’Abbé de l’Épée, has real charm, sophistication and comfort, ideally suited to the needs of the leisure traveller. It allows one to live the life of a Rive Gauche Bohemian by day, then return home to haute bourgeois luxury by night.
   The musketeer on the logo correctly suggests a sense of history reflected in the aristocratic décor—classical details, antiques, brocade and silk wall covering, dark woods, parquet floors. A small and peaceful corner of Paris, with personal service, one which attracts steady repeat business at a very fair price point of €160–250.
   There’s a lobby lounge where you can have breakfast, which is well used by guests into the evening, and excellent wines poured by the glass—an instance where quality has its cost. If your budget allows, treat yourself to room 503, the only suite in the hotel, where €475 buys twice the space, beautiful furnishings, potpourri in baskets, marble bath with Jacuzzi, plush towels and robes, Roger Gallet amenities, fine glassware (no plastic here), and a library of Hugo, Voltaire and other luminaries. Weather permitting, breakfast can be taken at a small table on 503’s private balcony, with a splendid view of the Pantheon. No wonder Rilke liked to stay here. Surprising ambient elevator music: Bob Dylan singing ‘Everybody Must Get Stoned’.
   Wired for wi-fi everywhere, on a pay per hour system: €10 per hour or €25 for 24 hours, plus a public terminal computer in the lounge, same deal. There’s also a sister three-star hotel, l’Observatoire, a short walk away, with a typical bistro on the ground floor. This is an easy alternative to the raucous establishments of the Boulevard St Germain, and a fine respite from the hustle-bustle which lies so conveniently close nearby.

Hôtel Villa St Germain
A hip, young, modern, austere sensibility defines this design-conscious four-star property in the heart of the action, just off the Boulevard St Germain on the rue Jacob, in the ever-trendy 6e. Loads of shopping here and plenty of foot traffic during the business day with the best people-watching imaginable, from the scruffy to the ethnic to the truly elegant.
   The hotel caters to an audience 25–40 years old, split 50–50 business and leisure. The price is high, €250-440; you are paying for the location, style and a one-to-three staff–guest ratio, which insures uptown service—fast, professional, efficient and personable. The rooms have that geometric spare modernist feel—a flexible palette of colour, well suited to people in the art business or entertainment industry. Details like a projected room number and a kooky door handle deliver more panache than your run-of-the-mill lodging. Continental breakfast €15, available in room. A spacious conference room seating about 20 adjoins the subterranean breakfast room. One could spend a happy half hour in the mucho trendy lobby bar where busy people always move about.
   Everything is walking close, and the street gets quiet in the evening, more so in your room because all windows are double-paned. There’s even public parking just around the corner on the Boulevard St Germain. Because of its global style this property attracts a lot of Americans, Aussies and Japanese. Completely wired for wifi on the ubiquitous pay-per-hour system: €5 for half-hour, €9 per hour, €27 for 24 hours. A lively, happening place, probably ideal for young professionals travelling on an expense account.

Hôtel Élysée Regencia
A high-end, button-down, 41-room four star property, mostly appropriate to the business traveller. In extremely good repair, refurbished in January 2005. Very well located in the 16e, the hotel is favoured by executives who appreciate its proximity to fashion industry corporate offices in the neighbourhood. This explains the 70–30 business-to-tourist guest ratio—during the weekends the hotel’s 95 per cent occupancy rate is supported by leisure travellers and the hotel has special promotions for that end of the market.
   There are two wonderful suites available: an upper floor Provence-themed loft with authentic tile, fabric and furniture and over-the-top bathroom; and a ground floor space just off the reception area, more like a pied-à-terre tastefully done in a cream–grey–lavender colour scheme, a fantasy of comfort and style not like a hotel, more like a designer home from a chic architectural magazine. The suites are a very good deal for the price. You could pay double for a room at the George V, for example, and get much less for it. Add in the Anne Semonin amenities, wood floors, marble baths, minibar, AC and free in-room ethernet connection and any offering here is a great one.
   All bathrooms have a lot of natural light; any room number ending in a 5 includes a bidet. Families travelling will appreciate the ability to connect several adjoining rooms for larger parties.
   Wifi throughout, €5 for 20 minutes on a sliding scale to €30 for 24 hours. Breakfast included for corporate travellers. You can also enjoy French or Asian cuisine or pizza in-room, plus the hotel has an arrangement with a superb and highly-regarded Cambodian restaurant nearby.
   As a footnote, the hotel is in the final year of a contract with Best Western Hotels. My opinion is that Élysée Regencia presents a higher value package than typically associated with that brand. Guests need not lower their expectations for this fine property. The quality shines through.

La Residence Bassano
A converted apartment building in the 16e which now functions as a four-star 23-suite hotel, whose business is split 50–50 business to tourism. The hotel is preferred by families, and is furnished much like a private home. Staff is sensitized to international preferences because a real global mix of nationalities comprises its clientèle. You can find, for example, Japanese, Russian and Arabic newspapers in the lobby, as well as TV channels in those languages. The hotel keeps a database on its guests, since there is a good deal of repeat business—returning guests have favourite rooms and bathrooms which the culturally aware hotel likes to remember (i.e. Japanese favour baths, Americans prefer showers). This is the sister establishment to Hotel Élysée Regencia, which is just across the way, whereas Bassano is on a side street, so the properties can share an experienced and dedicated staff and you will find the same amenities. But la Residence Bassano, a charming habitation with a friendly ivory and cream décor and informal manner, delivers a relaxing residential experience as a contrast to the businesslike persona of its nearby counterpart. Location, space, comfort, and amenities make la Residence Bassano a fine choice for leisure travellers or longer-term business travellers. There’s a comfy breakfast room, in-room dining, and the identical wifi package as Élysée Regencia.

Hôtel Plaza Opera
If you like the Lonely Planet style of travel, the three-star Plaza Opera may be for you. A small Hausmann-era building sitting at a busy intersection at the bottom edge of Montmartre near Notre Dame de Lorette, this budget level property (€100–165) of 34 rooms is clearly the choice of intrepid tourists. Bilingual signs in French and Spanish attest to the popularity of the hotel with Iberian guests, but you will find English spoken as well.
   While accommodations are spartan and clean, rooms are small and amenities simple. There are, for example, no room safes—instead check your valuables in a numbered strong box at the front desk. You receive your own key and there is someone on duty 24 hours a day. The oval staircase which runs next to the small elevator is decorated with framed illustrations of vintage hot air balloons. You have a choice of rooms with bath (facing rue Maubeuge) or rooms with shower (facing the quieter rue Lamartine.) A very nice and typical breakfast served 7.30–10 a.m. in your room, or downstairs in the cozy basement breakfast lounge, which functions as a hub of amiable socializing.
   Many sleeping configurations available, doubles, twins, rollaway beds, kid beds free for under two years old, a honeymoon bed, and one king bed in a lofted top floor room with views of the rooftops of the surrounding quarter.
   The second and fifth floors also have narrow balconies with tiny tables, which overlook the teeming streets below. You observe a neighbourhood tableau down there, where real Parisians go about their business.
   The location is central enough to walk to the big department stores, Opera, Sacre Cœur, the louche enticements of Pigalle, and a short constitutional to the enormous Tati store at Barbes Rochechouart. If you haven’t been to Tati, do it at least once in your life; there you pick through bins of cheap knockoffs, elbow-to-elbow with Algerian ladies, in a chaotic surrounding of humanity, colour and texture. It’s madness, but you get some amazing styles, and you will be astounded at how far your euros can go—abandon all expectations of luxury, and have a blast.
   Plaza Opera is also close enough to roll your suitcase to the Gare du Nord, without the hassle of taking a cab. It’s no doubt a good bet for small families travelling on a budget, a no-frills hotel distinguished by a devoted staff who really want to help people have a satisfying holiday experience. Mme Valière and her hospitable team like to meet people, and give good advice and information. There’s also an intimate wood-panelled lounge off the reception area, where one can flop on a couch and enjoy a quick espresso, as you consider the day’s adventures.
   Wifi throughout, charged at €5 for half-hour, or €25 for 24 hours. If it is to your taste, remember to request a non-smoking room, as tobacco lovers frequent this property.

Hôtel Louvre Saint-Romain
An archetypal Parisian auberge of 34 rooms, operated in an unpretentious style, this three-star hotel is most appropriate for middle price-range tourists, who make up two-thirds of its business. Perhaps the greatest advantage is location, literally steps away from the Palais Royal métro and the Louvre, just across the river from the Musée d’Orsay.
   The hotel delivers easy access to the most popular museums of Paris, at the east gate to the Tuilieries, and it’s only a stone’s throw down to the quai along the Seine that leads to the Île de la Cité, where Notre Dame presides. A lot of history and culture close at hand, and minimal need for transit. There’s a truly authentic and natural style of operation here, at a fair price (€170 up) mostly for the incredible convenience.
   You may want to find some meals across the river on the Left Bank, since the immediate vicinity doesn’t boast the most reasonable dining prices. The hotel’s typique personality hasn’t been tainted by an overblown sense of self-importance; an agreeable staff keeps the place humming nicely, and full of repeat guests. Furnishings are largely natural wood, old style, and the structure is undergoing a gradual renovation. Request one of the four new bathrooms redone in September 2005 and you will be pleased with the clean tilework, thoughtful lighting, groovy showers and modern fixtures. It’s an old building, and there is an affecting charm to the labyrinthine hallways and quirky staircases.
   Also, there are two multi-level duplex rooms which sleep four, and their eccentric architecture and configurations (dormers, eaves and tiny wood balustrades) may be just the detail the kids remember 20 years from now when you all look back together at your holiday. Breakfast €14 in room or buffet-style in the stone-vaulted cellar. Cable internet access in rooms, but no wifi until late 2006.



Add to | Digg it | Add to Facebook


Hôtel Relais St Jacques

Hôtel Élysée Regencia

La Residence Bassano

Hôtel Plaza Opera, including honeymoon suite bed

Hôtel Louvre Saint-Romain, and view from a room



La Residence Bassano keeps a database on its guests, since there is a good deal of repeat business—returning guests have favourite rooms and bathrooms which the culturally aware hotel likes to remember

Related articles
Lucire 2004 | The Global Fashion Magazine Studying the classics in Italy
Stanley Moss checks out three of the Baglioni Group’s luxury properties in Italy, discovering the best places to stay in Milano, Venezia and Firenze
photographed by the author
Expanded from issue 22 of Lucire
Lucire 2005 | The Global Fashion Magazine Road to Champagne
Jack Yan arrives in Paris for a romantic holiday and heads out to Champagne, in Part One of our two-part story on his tour of the region
photographed by the author
Excerpted from issue 22 of Lucire