Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais

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Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais
The minute I stepped inside Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais, located in the heart of the Marais in Paris’ fourth arrondisements, I thought I was at the wrong address.  I was mentally prepared to see the usual snooty doorman and cookie-cutter lobby furniture combo typical of many other three-star hotels, but the crackling fireplace, harp, and 18th- century card table that greet guests of the Beaumarchais look more like the inside of a private home built for the French gentry than a hotel designed for tourists.  Instead of a blaring television set or noisy lounge area, a pianoforte, hand-selected by the father-son management team of Etienne and Alain Bigeard, sits next to a concierge seated at an antique desk.  From minute one, I knew there is nothing ordinary at Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais.  As they say, first impressions are everything.  When you step into the Beaumarchais’s lobby, the first thing you’ll notice is the attention to detail.  Absolutely every inch of this place has been redone and refurbished, accurately reflecting the 18th- century theme.  Chairs upholstered in period silks, authentic antiques hand-selected from markets across Europe, custom wallpapers, everything right down to the soft, slowly swaying lights (made to give the effect of the faint glow of candles) give the hotel a personal, intimate feel.  “The leading idea of the décor of the hotel is introducing part of the history with fun,” states Alain Bigeard, the interior decorator himself.  “This has been done with a lot of care.”  Modern luxuries such as, well, electricity for starters as well as the elevator (thank God) have been added to make your stay as convenient as possible; however, the hotel goes to great lengths to sneak amenities of 2005 in without interrupting the décor of 1700.  The knowledgeable staff is equally attentive and willing to provide anything from area restaurant recommendations to a copy of the International Herald Tribune placed neatly beside morning tea or coffee.  With only seven floors and nineteen rooms, the hotel itself is small, small enough to physically feel like a home.  Perhaps that’s because it once was.  Formerly the home of an 18th- century French gentryman, the hotel was designed to preserve the ambiance of both comfort and indulgence.  “The 18th century was an outstanding time,” remarks Bigeard.  “The plaisir, the fashion…this was a period of joy, a period of life, a period of luxury.  I want my hotel to show that.” Combined with the elegant decorations and a welcoming staff, one feels more like a house guest than a paying customer.  “Hotels are too similar,” Bigeard quips.  “My first purpose is to be a home for guests wanting to discover culture.” As I made my way up to the room in the Beaumarchais’s stereotypically Euro elevator (holding a maximum of four people), an English-speaking couple beside me chatted quietly.  “I love this place,” I heard the woman say. “The people here are so friendly.”  To hear an American describe the hotel as ‘friendly’ is an almost too appropriate.  Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais is named after Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, author of the controversial 1784 play The Marriage of Figaro (the original source of Mozart’s famous opera) and former resident of rue Vieille du Temple where the hotel stands today.  Nicknamed “Friend of the Americans” because of the arms he provided to rebel soldiers during the Revolutionary War, Beaumarchais was a world-renowned anglophile and, in part, responsible for the creation of the term “American.”  Likewise, the Beaumarchais hotel bends over backwards to cater to the English-speaking community.  The staff is bilingual, reservations can be made either online or via telephone in English, and all promotional materials (including the web site at http://www.carondebeaumarchais.com) are written with the Anglophone community in mind.  The rooms themselves are small but as tasteful and elegant as the lobby.  Exposed beam ceilings, French armoires, and hand-framed first-edition pages of The Marriage of Figaro meet flat-screen LCD televisions with satellite cable (including CNN in English), high-speed Wifi connections, and air-conditioning.  A complete renovation of the hotel was done just last year, and all rooms have been soundproofed and wired with the fastest internet connections available.  Tiny balconies overlooking rue de Rivoli provide a fantastic place to enjoy a morning croissant or sip an evening glass of wine, and rooms on the top floors offer a breathtaking view of the Right Bank.  What’s more impressive than either the view or the amenities are the tiny, commonly overlooked niceties within each room.  Fresh flowers, Beaumarchais stationery, and a tiny dish of candy bearing the silhouette of Beaumarchias himself await guests as if the hotel staff has been anticipating your arrival for months.  Even the private bathrooms reflect the atmosphere of the hotel.  The sparkling and drool-ably large bathrooms feature hand-painted tiles and come equipped with hair dryers and a mini-bar.  Breakfast is done with equal elegance and flair and thankfully is served until noon for late risers.  Guests can opt for the full ten-euro meal (either delivered directly to your room or taken in the downstairs breakfast room), consisting of coffee, tea or hot chocolate served with freshly squeezed orange juice, country-style pâté, warm pain au chocolat, cheese, yogurt, and bread with honey and/or homemade jams.  Top it all off with a ripe kiwi fruit and you have yourself a breakfast fit for a king.  For guests looking for just a morning pick-me-up, three and a half euros gets you coffee, tea or hot chocolate brought directly to your room on a tray along with a copy of the Tribune.  The Marais, the epicenter of fashion, taste, and all things chic, is of course the perfect location for the Beaumarchais.  Nestled between stereotypically Parisian cafés and boutiques, the Beaumarchais is walking distance from some of the most fantastic shopping, eating, museum-going and night life this city has…
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