20 Rue La Fayette
Tel: 33 1 55 33 22 22
The first French property of the Spanish Derby Hotels group, known for such edgy properties as the Urban in Madrid and the Claris in Barcelona, occupies a gorgeous turn-of-the-twentieth-century bank building just steps from the Palais Garnier and the city's big department stores. The stunning round glass-domed lobby of the 94-room hotel has a decor that recalls a lush Proustian bordello with vermilion walls, an original mosaic floor, a long gold-leather sofa, and low lighting in the adjacent bar, restaurant, and reception area, and it's ringed by an elegant mezzanine gallery. The standard rooms are small but comfortable with built in desks, high ceilings, and white walls wittily decorated with theater set-like black drawings inspired by the moldings and caryatids that make the hotel's jewel box of central atrium such a stunner. The contemporary art displayed in the hallways and public spaces create an elegant atmosphere, and the fact that you don't need to rob a bank to stay here means that this newcomer has been attracting lots of travelers who formerly swore by the Left Bank. To be sure, this business neighborhood is quiet at night, but the locals know that nearby Chez Georgette is one of Paris's best and cheapest bistros. A spa is scheduled for July.
12 Rue Vieille du Temple
Tel: 33 1 42 72 34 12
Metro: Hôtel-de-Ville or St. Paul
Playwright, spy, financier, and American revolutionary sympathizer Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais wrote The Marriage of Figaro in his town house at 47 Rue Vieille-du-Temple, a few hundred yards east of this family-run, 19-room property. Add to that a 1792 Erard pianoforte, an equally vintage harp, and Mozart's opera playing in the lobby, and the Figaro theme becomes inescapable. Luckily, the property has personable staff, some with a sense of humor. High-tech goodies (like free Wi-Fi) help you overlook the fact that "cozy" here means shoehorning the minibars, flat-screen TVs, and antiques into the dimensions of a violin case. Well, a few rooms, like number 10, are more like cello cases; and bathrooms are surprisingly decent-sized. Rooms in back are less sunny than those on the Rue Vieille du Temple side, but they're also dead quiet—important, because this is the 24/7 backbone of the Marais's gay district. Caron de Beaumarchais is stylish only by 18th-century standards, but the charm-to-price ratio is as harmonious as the music, so it often books solid months in advance.
31 Avenue George V
Tel: 33 1 49 52 70 00
Metro: George V
Just off the Champs-Élysées, this grande dame completely changed the luxury-accommodation game in Paris when it reopened as a Four Seasons after a top-to-toe redo in 1999. Think French chic and polish with North American creature comforts and standards of service, and you'll get the idea. It's all kid-glove from the moment you arrive—a chorus of "bienvenues" invites you into a marble-floored lobby bursting with the work of in-house floral designer Jeff Leatham: He goes through thousands of dollars of perfect blooms each week. The 245 plush rooms exude wealthy, if bland, good taste and have state-of-the-art features, from climate control to plasma-screen televisions. The much-in-demand honeymoon suite has an outstanding view of the Eiffel Tower. Its acclaimed restaurant Le Cinq is still drawing in the gourmand crowd with two Michelin stars and a new star-chef Eric Briffard. And the indoor pool is surrounded by a "let-them-eat-cake" mural of the gardens at Versailles.
5157 Rue de Courcelles
Tel: 33 1 58 36 67 00
Fax: 33 1 58 36 67 77
Since the new Paris Hilton is a real ocean liner of a hotelwith 525 rooms, it's the largest to be built in the City of Light since World War IIit makes sense that designer Alexandre Danan resorted to the same Art Deco decor that made the French Line's fabled La Normandie feel both luxurious and intimate. The profligate use of expensive materialsrosewood, black and green granite, marble (in the mosaic work)doesn't hurt. Sure, standard doubles are a bit snug, but they work, from the reproduction Arte drawings and quality beds and bedding to a tempting 24-hour room service menu and all the requisite twenty-first-century technology. A great location, a lavish Carita spa and well-equipped gym, a happening lounge bar, and a surprisingly good restaurant, Le Safran, reveal a Hilton unshackled from the rest of the chain.
9 Rue Navarin
Tel: 33 1 48 78 31 80
Metro: Saint-Georges or Pigalle
André, the mono-monikered artist and nightlife impresario, has reworked this Montmarte building into a hip bobo (bohemian bourgeois) flophouse, where the 20 rooms bear the idiosyncrasies of different artists. For example, No. 105 features bubble gum–pink carpeting, a purple-tiled bathroom, and a Terry Richardson photo of a male couple in crotchless Batman and Robin costumes. Traditional amenities are nil—rooms have iPod docks but no phones or TVs—but since even arty types like some comforts, there are Kiehl's toiletries and beds are by the company that supplies the Ritz. The point, however, isn't to hang in your room but to join the nightly party in the restaurant-bar, where the wine is well-priced.
711 Rue St-Benoît
Tel: 33 1 42 61 53 53
Hotel Bel-Ami isn't new, but it's dynamic and has come into its own since opening in the bull's-eye of St-Germain-des-Prés in 2000. Hong Kong–born luxury hotel maven Grace Leo-Andrieu is behind this 115-room property, and the Asian touch shows: thick carpets, contemporary wood armoires, and a muted palette of olive and taupe accented by crimson fabrics. All rooms have AC, quadruple-glazed windows, well-stocked minibars, and marble-clad bathrooms. The catch is the shoebox size of the standard ("Rive Gauche") rooms—numbers 110, 117, 121, and 129 are just too small to be true. Even the Superior rooms are snug, so pop for a pricey Deluxe room or Junior Suite (only those on the fourth floor have rooftop views). Still, it's booked pretty much year-round by European business and media types who care more about chic and convenience than space. There's a compact sauna and fitness room (with aquariums and a flat-screen TV); and the free Internet access in the lobby is accompanied by a life-saving American QWERTY keyboard (Wi-Fi is also available).
19 Rue du Bourg-Tibourg
Tel: 33 1 42 78 47 39
Metro: Hôtel-de-Ville or St. Paul
Prices at this hip place run just a little beyond budget territory, but the few extra dollars are justified by its location (in the heart of the Marais, right down the street from Mariage Frères—the cult tea shop, tea salon, and lunch spot) and inventive decor (by star decorator Jacques Garcia, of Hôtel Costes fame). Garcia's 30 funky Napoleon III–style rooms are a mixture of neo-Gothic and Asian influences, with lush colors, rich fabrics, and one-of-a-kind period pieces. A lot of comfort is packed into modest-sized spaces, too, from beds made up in crisp white linens to well-lit bathrooms with mosaic tiles. One of France's hottest landscape architects, Camille Muller, designed the small interior garden. The Bourg Tibourg is Paris HQ for the fashion herd—designers, buyers, photographers, and so forth—so be sure to book well ahead.
8 Rue Frédéric Bastiat
Tel: 33 1 42 56 17 00
Metro: Saint-Philippe-du-Roule or Franklin D. Roosevelt
The elegant "voyage to the Indies via the Casbah" decor of this well-mannered 26-room town-house hotel in Paris's stylish 8th Arrondissement instantly won it a worldly following. Fashion types adore this Relais & Châteaux property's exotic aesthetic, and financial high-fliers (there are a lot of banks and law offices nearby) appreciate its comfort, convenience, and well-groomed service. Pedigreed objets d'art—vintage ginger jars, mother-of-pearl-inlaid Syrian accent pieces, Murano glass, and Oriental carpets from Kazakhstan—adorn the bar and lobby, and the globe-trotting theme extends to the individually decorated rooms upstairs. Fabrics from some of the grandest European textile houses, including Manuel Canovas, Brunschwig & Fils, and Zoffany, animate the small but extremely well-thought-out rooms, all of which have spacious bathrooms with tubs and walls lined with Italian marble or zellige (Moroccan glazed tile). This place effortlessly passes the Sunday-morning test—to wit, you'd happily laze away a few weekend hours here. And don't worry about sleeping in—unlike in many Paris hotels, breakfast is served all day.
10 Place de la Concorde
Tel: 33 1 44 71 15 00
In this, its flagship property, Concorde Hotels manages to make the the oppressive designs of the ancien régime—stone staircases, mile-high frescoed ceilings, monumental chandeliers, and endless salons—seem somehow humanized. But when it comes to exclusivity (and price), the place is as authoritarian as Louis XVI. The 147 rooms and multiple-bedroom suites are outfitted with Aubusson carpets, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, and the red velvet-upholstered armchairs and gilded, leather-topped desks and tables are the real deal. The views (over Place de la Concorde) are the best of all the Paris palace hotels, and top-of-the-line technology (flat-screen TVs and broadband Internet access) is in place, too. Guests wash up surrounded by polychrome inlaid marble floors, marble-clad walls, saunas, Jacuzzis, and Turkish baths. Service, of course, is fawning and ubiquitous—there's even a special brigade to coddle canine guests. Dinner reservations at Les Ambassadeurs can be hard to come by; the Crillon Bar serves drinks and light meals to a modish crowd. Emperor Hirohito, Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton, Madonna, and, yes, the Dalai Lama have all stayed here, and the pedigree continues to draw a power-elite clientele—all you have to do to join the ranks is pony up at checkout time.
41 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie
Tel: 33 1 53 23 75 75
Even though it stands in the very grand shadows of the George V in the heart of Paris's "golden triangle" luxury district, the Hôtel de Sers is no also-ran. In fact, it's frequently recommended by its posh neighbor when the latter is sold out. Originally the private residence of the Marquis de Sers (built in 1880), and most recently known as the Hotel Queen Elizabeth, this 52-room property was overhauled in 2004 under the aegis of Thibault Vidalenc (whose family has owned the place for three generations) and his architect-cousin Thomas. There's now a visual give-and-take between a certain Haussmanian elegance (a paneled lounge, a portrait gallery) and modern panache (dark rosewood furniture, a pearl-gray and plum color scheme). Well-bred extras run to Ladurée pastries on the breakfast tray and a steam room and sauna in the small gym. When booking, note that suites 75 and 81 have drop-dead views of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and Sacré Coeur; 67 and 68 have terraces overlooking the courtyard garden.
11 Rue du Temple
Tel: 33 1 42 72 72 22
Metro: Hôtel de Ville
Here's a tale of two hotels: The modest, family-run Axial Beaubourg and the once-seedy Duo Hotel next door were skillfully merged by rising-star architect Jean-Philippe Nuel and reopened in fall 2006. The result is an affordable, high-design property one block from the Hôtel de Ville and the Pompidou Center, edging the Marais neighborhood's lively gay area. The playfully contempo lobby is framed by big windows and rustic ceiling timbers, and furnished with oversize lampshades and boxy armchairs in olive green or black checks. The 39 wholly remade rooms in the Duo are now understated and plush; angular yet comfortably overstuffed armchairs and thick drapes in shades of green and brown trim the living areas, while bathrooms have full tubs and stone-and-tile sinks. But aside from a paint job and new carpets, Nuel didn't touch the Axial Beaubourg's 19 rooms, so they remain unexciting habitats with poky bathrooms; the only accommodations on this side worth booking are the fifth-floor street-side units, for their rooftop views. Like a mating call for the modeling and design crowd, there's a basement fitness center and sauna, free Wi-Fi in the lobby, and a breakfast room that mimics a hip diner-cum-sushi bar, with raw concrete pillars and contemporary photographs. Amazingly, the place is still family-run, unaffected, and friendly—and booked weeks ahead.
29-31 Rue de Poitou
Tel: 33 1 42 74 10 10
Metro: Filles du Calvaire or Saint-Sébastien-Froissart
In the most happening corner of Paris—the northern edge of the Marais in the 3rd Arrondissement—this 17-room hotel with 17 different interiors by designer Christian Lacroix was an inevitable hit with the international style set when it opened in 2005. Hipsters love the location, the laid-back atmosphere, and the lushly funky Baroque look that is Lacroix's signature. Walls in room 302, for example, are covered in anise-colored leather and chocolate-brown canvas, while others are themed around Lacroix croquis (fashion sketches), Toile de Jouy (18th-century French prints), '60s Pop and Op art, Baroque Paris, and the Opéra. What all the accommodations have in common are Wi-Fi connections, air-conditioning, and exceptionally comfortable king beds dressed up in quality linens and accented with fur throws. They're also uniformly snug—best for people traveling light and probably on their own, since there's hardly room for a suitcase in most standard rooms. Still, few hotels have decor with this much wit and taste. Witness the reception area with its painted ceilings, a holdover from the space's former incarnation—the oldest bakery in Paris.
63 Rue St-Lazare
Tel: 33 1 48 74 78 24
Metro: Trinité-d'Estienne d'Orves
Though it offers great value for the money, there's nothing visibly budget about this Belle Époque beauty, with a great Right Bank location. It was built as a bank in 1870 then converted into a hotel in 1896. Most of the 28 rooms are outfitted with École de Nancy–style (Art Nouveau) furniture and 19th-century paintings, but contemporary fabrics and lighter color schemes prevent this look from feeling too weighty. Book one of the doubles with a grande salle de bain (large bathroom) on a top floor. Word to the wise: Skip the overpriced breakfast here and catch a seat in one of the busy cafés around the corner on the Place de la Trinité instead.
43 Rue de l'Abbé-Grégoire
Tel: 33 1 45 48 23 23
Tucked away on a narrow street between Montparnasse and St-Germain-des-Prés, this 20-room hotel, in an 18th-century mansion, is popular with fashionistas, the literati, and stylish French visiting from the provinces. All rooms are done up in a classic Gallic tour-de-force of floral chintz curtains, white-varnished furniture, and embroidered coverlets. Oil paintings, framed mirrors, and Oriental accent rugs abet the impression of being a guest in the private house of some very refined Parisians, and the English-speaking manager is on hand for restaurant and shopping recommendations or information on the latest gallery shows. Wi-Fi is available in all rooms, and breakfast is served in the vaulted stone cellar.
21 Rue Molière
Tel: 33 1 42 96 22 01
Metro: Palais RoyalMusée du Louvre
Paris used to have dozens of small, independently owned inns with busy floral wallpaper, tiny bedside tables, and curious telephones. However, these good-value places have recently become a rarer breed as they're bought up by chains that modernize them into a state of dull international uniformity. Happily, the 32-room Molière, a delightful spot with a superb location (the Palais Royal, Louvre, Opéra, and Tuileries are all within a 15-minute walk), survives and has even been improved. Almost all rooms now have renovated bathrooms. With faux-marble pillars and a stone bust of Molière in the lobby, this place continues to exude a delightful only-in-Paris atmosphere. Plus, there are lots of excellent, inexpensive Asian restaurants on the neighboring Rue Ste-Anne.
3 rue de Montalembert
Tel: 33 1 45 49 68 68
Metro: Rue du Bac
When the Montalembert was renovated and reopened in 1990, it rocked the hotel world with its radical departure from traditional hotel designan uncluttered contemporary aesthetic by Christian Liaigre. This being Paris, the hotel's 56 guestrooms (which have received some updates over the years), are plush but snug. Upgrade to a junior suite if you require more than 300 square feet or an Eiffel Tower view. (Street-facing rooms on the lower floors have views into offices and apartments). Most rooms have clean-lined furniture and subtle earth-tone or plum-colored fabrics; some deluxe rooms are more traditional, with Louis Philippe-style furnishingsbut even then, there's not a stitch of toile in sight. All have marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, and WiFi (about $16 per hour). The restaurant serves a menu of border-hopping dishes, such as lemongrass-marinated chicken and seared tuna in sumac, although peckish gourmands may prefer to pull up a stool at neighboring L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. The Saint Germain neighborhood's many hopping cafés are also nearby. Even though the boutique hotel concept is no longer novel, and a night here will set you back at least $400, it's a refreshing alternative to the city's fussy grand dames and a good base for imagining yourself as a 21st-century Parisian.
23 Avenue Jurot
Tel: 33 1 53 41 81 40
Tucked down a romantic stone-paved lane in Montmartre, the five-suite Hôtel Particulier is an extraordinary guesthouse that skillfully demonstrates how edgy modern design and Old Paris can work in utter harmony. This magnificent eighteenth-century Directoire-style mansion surrounded by intimate gardens created by Louis Bénech, one of the landscape architects who renovated the Tuileries, combines snappy contemporary looks with a lot of comfort. Each of the five rooms has a distinct personality; among the standouts is the third-floor Vegetal room, designed by contemporary artist Martine Aballéa, who created a view-from-a-tree-house wallpaper in green, blue, and vermilion. The designers of the other four rooms are photo artist Natacha Lesueur (room theme: Curtain of Hair), painter Philippe Mayaux (Vitrine Room), fashion and textile curator Olivier Saillard (Poems and Hats), and illustrator Pierre Fichefeux (Tree with Ears). Finnish designer Mats Haglund, who has worked for Chanel, furnished the salon on the ground floor with originals of classics by Arne Jacobsen, Mies van der Rohe, and Alvar Aalto, and guests, as interesting as the hotel itself, linger in this handsome space with an honor bar.
25 Avenue Montaigne
Tel: 33 1 53 67 66 65
Metro: Franklin D. Roosevelt or Alma-Marceau
The 191-room Plaza Athénée has pulled off the neat trick of becoming the hippest grand hotel in Paris. The world's young, rich, and titled check in here to check out one another, disporting themselves in one of the city's hottest bars and two of its highly rated restaurants—the gorgeous Art Deco Relais Plaza (Yves Saint-Laurent is a regular) and Alain Ducasse, where an extravagant breakfast is also served (the pastry basket is so copious it requires its own printed guide). During the summer, the hotel's ivy-covered and geranium-planted courtyard is one of the loveliest places for a drink or dinner, and tea in the gallery is a major event for those who live la vie en rose. Upstairs, you have a choice between Art Deco or Louis XVI grandeur; we prefer the latter for its higher ceilings and more classic feel, but either way, you'll score CD players, remote-controlled air-conditioning, extensive closet space, and gorgeous marble bathrooms. Serious shoppers can't do better than the Avenue Montaigne location—Christian Dior's main boutique is just across the street, and Prada, Balenciaga, and the rest of the gang are just a skip away.
79 Rue St. Dominique
Tel: 33 1 47 05 79 00
Tel: 33 1 47 05 49 75
Chef Jean-François Piège (who ran the two-Michelin-star Les Ambassadeurs) and hotelier-restaurateur Thierry Costes have created a charming and exceptionally comfortable 15-room hotel upstairs from the two excellent restaurants they run on the rue St-Dominique (one of the more charming streets on the Left Bank). Among designer India Mahdavi's witty tongue-in-cheek references to small, traditional Paris hotels: In the stairwells are potted plants on lace doiliesonly instead of the rickety bamboo stands of yore, this greenery sits atop sleek turned-wood tables. In place of alarming floral-print wallpaper, rooms are done in William Morris meets op art geometric prints that recall sixties Miami Beach. Thick wall-to-wall carpeting, beds with crisp linen sheets, and flocked patterned damask curtains give these cozy cribs a lot of style. Spacious bathrooms come with square sinks on counters (that extend into the bedroom to become a desk) and a heated towel rack. Well-equipped rooms include an iPad, an Illy espresso maker, and a minibar with complimentary soft drinks. The staff are eager to please and there's a hearty room-service menu, but with two terrific restaurants on the premises, it's more fun to go to the see-and-be-seen brasserie or Piège's intimate haute-cuisine table on the first floor.
8 Rue de Verneuil
Tel: 33 1 42 60 82 14
Metro: Rue du Bac or Saint-Germain-des-Prés
It's just steps away from hopping Boulevard Saint-Germain and the tourist thrum at Les Deux Magots (6 Place St-Germain des Prés; 33-1-45-48-55-25; www.lesdeuxmagots.fr) and Café de Flore (172 Boulevard St-Germain; 33-1-45-48-55-26; www.cafe-de-flore.com), but the 26-room Hotel Verneuil is a sweet little respite, one of those hotel finds you don't tell anyone about. It's in a 17th-century building on a quiet residential street speckled with antique shops and galleries, and retains a historic feel: The downstairs salon has red paneling and exposed beams, and rooms on the second floor have vintage printed wallpapers. On the other hand, there are private marble baths, Wi-Fi access, and—most important—an Anglophone staff. Rooms can be small and only 15 have air-conditioning, but at rates like this, what did you expect?
13 Rue des Beaux Arts
Tel: 33 1 44 41 99 00
Oscar Wilde moved to this Saint-Germain address (then the Hôtel Alsace pension house) in the late 19th century and died here in 1900—but not before quipping, "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death; one or other of us has got to go." Unfortunately, the wallpaper won; in 2000, Jacques Garcia revamped what is believed to be Wilde's room with a phoenix mural flanked by the writer's unpaid bills. Actually, Garcia's ongoing refurb has wrapped everything—except the fabulous arcaded spiral staircase—in his signature neo-Baroque style. Plush velvet curtains flow from molded ceilings down to faux-leopard runners. Marble columns, crystal chandeliers, and brass wall sconces dress the secluded lobby and bar. A mosaic-paved pool occupies the vaulted cellar. And the atrium restaurant, which serves classic French cuisine, comes as a sunny, dress code–free surprise. Each of the 20 rooms is individually themed: Art Deco furniture, including a mirrored bed owned by 1930s singer Mistinguett, fills the room she preferred; original Belle Époque oil paintings depict idealized city scenes in the Rues de Paris room; lavish chinoiseries bedeck the Pagode room. In its mid-20th-century heyday, L' Hôtel attracted the likes of Salvador Dalí, Frank Sinatra, and Ava Gardner, and word has spread again: The glitterati and sophisticated couples keep this 20-room property booked solid, so reserve two to three months in advance for high-season accommodation.
8 Rue de Bellechasse
Tel: 33 01 45 50 22 31
Inspired by theater sets as well as tarot and playing cards, couturier Christian Lacroix has designed Le Bellechasse's 34 rooms as colorful little nests. With the Musée d'Orsay practically across the street, you couldn't want for a better location, but the tiny rooms might make even lovebirds claustrophobic. However, it's a terrific choice for solo travelers, since the rooms are as intelligently designed as cruise ship cabins, with desks covered in hobnailed black leather, lush damask curtains, bold graphics, and large tubs. With space at a premium, the service matters a lot, and here too the hotel scores high.
6–8 Rue Duphot
Tel: 33 1 42 60 34 12
If location is everything, this 59-room beauty, born from a nondescript hotel on the same site, lords it over other new small hotels in Paris with an unbeatable address midway between the Place de la Concorde and the Madeleine, with Chanel's flagship boutique around the corner. Indeed, this establishment is a bona fide baby grand that's able to give even such grande dames as the Ritz and the Hôtel de Crillon a run for their money. Though the front desk staff are wiltingly prim, you'll love the quiet contemporary chic of this place the moment you enter one of the dove-gray or cream rooms with crown moldings, chocolate brown wall-to-wall carpeting, good modern art on the walls, and ivory, oyster, black, and charcoal accents. Chrome-plated campaign desks and night tables, beds piled high with feather pillows, sleek Art Deco-style glass table and floor lamps, thick damask curtains, and spacious bathrooms floored in limestone make these exceptionally comfortable, urbane nests. There's also a small spa with a beautiful swimming pool, hammam, and sauna; a terrific bar with stylized Art Deco decor; and a seriously good contemporary French restaurant with, appropriately, a great list of Burgundies.
228 Rue de Rivoli
Tel: 33 1 44 58 10 10
Gone are the days when surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, a frequent guest, would open his window and dangle a lobster from the end of a fishing pole into the stream of passersby on the Rue de Rivoli, but Le Meurice still has a vaguely decadent and artistic tone that sets it apart from other high-priced Parisian gilt trips. Every floor at this sumptuous pile across the street from the Tuileries Gardens has a different decor, ranging from the traditional French parquet and silk damask of the Tuileries suites to the Marco Polo suite, an edgy, sexy space built under the eaves. There's also a great bar with big leather tub chairs and stunning Belle Époque murals, and the culinary genius of young chef Yannick Alléno makes a meal at Le Meurice, the hotel's lavish restaurant, a bona fide Gallic thrill.
12 Rue des Saussaies
Tel: 33 1 49 24 26 26
Occupying a powerful little corner of Paris (near the French Ministry of the Interior and the Élysées Palace), this 26-room sister hotel to the delightful Pavillon de la Reine conjures a chic take on la vie bohème. In this version, though, Rodolfo and Mimi are coughing into Hermès scarves, since the rue du Faubourg St-Honoré beckons too. Rooms, named after famous writers, are more cozy than grand, but they come with a lot of style. Individual color schemes were conceived by interior designer Didier Benderli: pigeon-gray walls, say, with thick chocolate-brown carpeting and deep-purple velvet settees and side chairs. The fluffy beds have glove leathercovered headboards, as well as great reading lamps. An iPad waits in every room, and junior suites upgrade standard baths or showers to whirlpool baths and rain showers. The hotel has neither a restaurant nor a bar nor a gym, but it hits a bull's-eye for its well-defined demographicthe worldly and the well-heeled.
6 Rue Saint-Placide
Tel: 33 1 42 84 34 60
Metro: Vaneau or SèrvesBabylone
Le Placide was opened by two affable sisters in October 2006, in what's long been a hotel desert at Sèvres-Babylone, near the Bon Marché department store. Small but beautiful, this property consists of ten rooms packed into a pint-size 19th-century building, plus a split-level back annex. Designer Bruno Borrione—a Philippe Starck collaborator—dressed it in elegant, 1960s-inspired decor and used mirrors and creative lighting to make the most of the subcompact lobby and public areas. Luckily, it's as if all the space were sucked upstairs: The ample rooms run from the street to the patio in back, and bathrooms comfortably fit full-size tubs. Borrione custom-designed almost everything, from chrome door handles and ceramic wastepaper baskets to birdbath-style sinks, bedsteads upholstered in Moroccan leather, and mirrored white armoires (the winter forest–scene wallpaper comes from London's Cole & Son). Book one of two rooms on the fifth floor for a balcony big enough for two. There's air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi (everywhere), minibars and flat-screen TVs with DVD players, room service (until 11 pm), and a quality à la carte breakfast (for $30). The quiet hipness of this place attracts literary and design types and the occasional executive, so hardcore scenesters should chill elsewhere—perhaps at Murano Urban Resort.
37 Avenue Hoche
Tel: 33 1 42 99 88 00
Tel: 33 1 42 99 88 77
Who knew that Le Royal Monceau, always an also-ran in the Paris luxury-hotel race, was in fact a sleeping beauty? With designer Philippe Starck as Prince Charming, this gut-renovated 149-room hotel near the Arc de Triomphe upended the conventions of what a Paris luxury hotel should be with wit and bold design. Red-glass lanterns on the facade hint at happy hanky-panky, and the warm welcome at reception is the first clue that this hotel has ditched the hauteur. Though snug, standard doubles are so well conceived that they overcome their diminutive dimensions. A bed with an ivory leather headboard sits in the middle of the room on a pretty area rug with a ribbon motif, facing a huge mirror that conceals the TV, and a pair of butternut leather chairs and night tables riff on the Art Deco grandeur of the original 1928 hotel. Large bathrooms feel even bigger due to mirrored walls and have showers with two settings (rain forest and handheld). The spaces brim with contemporary artphotos, paintings, collagesand there's a terrific bar, several beautifully decorated (if very expensive) restaurants, including the French-specialty La Cuisine, a smart boutique shilling art books and design objects, and a Clarins spa. Though the surrounding neighborhood is more suits than stockings, the Royal Monceau is a terrific choice whose only real flaw is that the noise-proofing could be betterto wit, you can hear the spike heels of your neighbor on the parquet. But then no one who stays here would be wearing sneakers.
6 Avenue Frémiet
Tel: 33 1 56 75 26 26
Designer Christophe Pillet has taken a former Best Western in the sleepy sixteenth arrondissement and turned it into a style-monger's address. Walls in all 27 rooms are faced in gorgeous rough-cut, fossil-studded slate and have ebonized parquet floorsthe perfect backdrop for the chrome-plated bed. Unlike other high-design hotels, the Sezz is quite welcoming: Staff are anxious to be helpful, and you're offered a complimentary drink as soon as you arrive. There's a sauna and a steam room in the basement relaxation area, and the convivial bar/reception area is actually used by guests. The overpriced breakfast, though good, is annoying in a location where there's no nearby alternative.
5 Rue Bélidor
Tel: 33 1 53 81 01 10
Not far from the Champs-Élysées, near the Porte Maillot, this stylish 33-room property takes its name from its vest-pocket garden, where brown rattan chairs attend a small fountain. The garden is just off the lobby-lounge, where sleek contemporary furniture sits amid lots of art books, and services include two computers, a station for free tea and coffee, an array of snacks including organic fruit-juice smoothies, and an honesty bar. Rooms are quiet and comfortable, with fold-down leather-lined writing desks, wardrobes covered in dark-chocolate leather, striped neutral carpeting, and plush beds with headboards with a camellia motif that winks at Chanel's emblematic flower. There's a small gym with a steam room and sauna. Instead of the usual overpriced Paris hotel breakfast of flabby croissants and weak coffee, the buffet here includes eggs, charcuterie, fruit, organic preserves, excellent breads, and bottomless coffee. The smiling young staff make life easier for a foreign clientele that's a mix of fashionistas and business go-getters.
109 Rue de Bagnolet
Tel: 33 1 43 48 48 48
Located in a funky eastern Paris neighborhood, this sassy hotel is an instant hit for its low prices and tongue-in-cheek Philippe Starck decor. A renovated parking garage that was part of a meat-and-potatoes housing project, the 172-room hotel doesn't show its cards until you step inside. Then the fun starts with a friendly welcome and a view of the good-looking crowd hanging out in the large multi-mood lounge/bar/restaurant. Guest rooms are small but as efficient as a well-designed ship's cabin, with exposed cement walls, a tiny kitchenette, and a wall-mounted iMac that also functions as a TV. Dimestore Halloween masks double as a quirky bedside lampshade, large bathrooms with ceiling-mounted showers come with Kiehl's amenities, and star chef Alain Senderens did the menu.
13 Boulevard du Temple
Tel: 33 1 42 71 20 00
Metro: Filles du Calvaire
If you're very young and very hip, the 24/7 party theme at the unabashedly self-conscious Murano can be wildly fun. Opened in 2004 on the Marais's eastern edge, this "resort" is more like a playground for recording artists, movie stars, and fashion designers. In the 52 rooms, dimmer-controlled 1960s-style lighting splashes color over translucent organdy curtains, glass-topped tables, and flat-screen Bang & Olufsen TVs. Some suites have gas fireplaces or minipools, but you're not here to hole up in your room: The bar is a kaleidoscope of lights and flashing video screens, and it thumps with a superb sound system—even the restaurant has a DJ (book a table with your room). Not everything hits the mark, though: Night-vision goggles wouldn't be a bad idea in the dark halls and elevators; digital fingerprint scanners sound cool until they malfunction and you can't get into your room; and the much-touted spa still hasn't opened (there is, however, a fitness center). Not content with one hot property, Murano's owners opened the 40-room Kube Rooms & Bars in 2005, in a converted 18th-century townhouse on the edgy edge of Montmartre near the Gare du Nord. Like Murano, it's well-equipped: There's a computer in each of the 41 hyper-designed rooms, along with thermal blankets. Breaking a sweat in the fitness facility is one way to warm up before schmoozing in the Grey Goose Vodka Bar, where the down comforters, wool caps, and gloves aren't just for show—the temperature is regulated at a frosty 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Too cold and dazed? The steel-plated Lounge Bar offers more and different potables, as well as finger food conjured by chef Nicolas Guillard at any hour of the day or night. Here the modish, mostly beautiful guests chill out between modeling sessions and broadcasts (1–5 Passage Ruelle; 1-42-05-20-00; www.kubehotel.com).
5 Rue de la Paix
Tel: 33 5871 1234
At this "very luxurious property with beautiful art" near the Louvre, the "elegant and extremely well-maintained" design extends to the "Zen meets Paris" rooms' neutral tones and custom fabrics. Pur' serves simple classics like braised frog's legs that can cost "a small fortune." The "professional and amiable staff know what you like." Recently added diplomatic suites overlook the courtyard.
10 Place de Mexico
Tel: 800 333 3333 (toll-free)
Tel: 33 1 56 90 40 04
Overlooking the quiet Place de Mexico in the silk-stocking sixteenth arrondissement, this handsome triangular limestone Haussmannian building is a smart, stylish 48-room property that completely belies its chain hotel roots. The main entrance leads to a low-lit, low-key lobby with an ethanol-burning fireplace, sleek black leather armchairs and sofas, caramel-stained wood, and a color scheme of black and ivory. The young reception staff are welcomingthere's not a whiff of Gallic hauteur at this propertyand things get even better upstairs, where the well-designed Classic doubles (the least expensive room category) offer a lot of comfort for a reasonable price. Sure they're snug, but the waxed teak flooring, wall-mounted plasma-screen TVs, and ebony-stained four-posters with high-quality sheets give the rooms a cozy rather than small feel. Bathrooms have spacious black-stone stall showers and shallow limestone sinks, and the lighting is soft and studied throughout. A raft of great details, including iPod docks, complimentary Wi-Fi, and Anne Sémonin toiletries, means that the Radisson Blu performs well above its weight and is a pleasant contender for anyone who doesn't mind the slightly off-the-beaten track location. The hotel also has a small indoor pool and a steam room.
15 Place Vendôme
Tel: 33 1 43 16 30 30
There are two things the uninitiated always want to know about Paris's most famous hotel. First off, is it really as ritzy as the name would imply? That's a definite yes—after all, the adjective itself derives from this 161-room hotel. Second question: Is it worth it? The answer here is an unequivocal "perhaps." To breathe the rarefied and perfumed (it is) air here costs a small fortune, but the hotel is filled with superlatives. The best bar (and bartender) in Paris is the Hemingway bar, where charming Brit Colin Field holds forth. The restaurant, L'Espadon, has a brilliant chef in Michel Roth. The indoor pool, modeled on ancient Roman baths, is the most spectacular in Europe. And the extras include chauffeur service to and from the airport, an organic room service menu, and Bamford Baby products to pamper the littlest guests. If your pockets are deep enough, book the sumptuous Imperial suite, which has a huge tub and an exact replica of Marie Antoinette's canopy bed at Versailles. Or, while we're on the subject of old queens, ask for the dusty-rose-tinted Elton John suite under the eaves. The Chanel suite, done over by Karl Lagerfeld, is a shrine with furniture in the style of Louis XVI, the Directoire, and the Empire, the way Coco liked it.
10 Avenue d'Iéna
Tel: 33 1 53 67 19 98
Near the Trocadero in the buttoned-up 16th arrondissement, the Shangri-La occupies an elegant 1896 limestone mansion. Originally built as the residence of Roland Bonaparte (a grand-nephew), its public rooms retain regal grandeursky-high ceilings, ormolu and wedding cake moldingsthat define Paris's "palace" hotels. The Shangri-La scrupulously follows all of the codes of the Grand Hotel Experience, from the liveried doormen to the firmament of crystal chandeliers. The first Asian feint in this Shangri-La is the welcome tea poured during in-room check-in, but hints at what is to come: Shang Palace, a Cantonese restaurant, set to open in July 2011, with a brigade of chefs from China. There's also L'Abeille, an haute-cuisine French table, and La Bauhinia, a formal international restaurant. Interior designer Pierre Yves Rochon played it safe by channeling the Napoleonic pedigree of the property, kitting out most of the rooms in a classical French "la vie en beige" (and pale blue and celadon). Compact standard rooms have well-considered detailsa bronze panel on the leather-topped escritoire conceals outlets and switches, the minibar station has an electric tea kettle and espresso machine. The service also hints at the slightly indeterminate identity of these lavish new lodgingsAsian staff mete out kid-glove hospitality, while the friendly young local hires seem slightly overawed by the opulence.