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Hotels in Paris are like boyfriends – some are too awful to even mention to friends and family, most are barely memorable stops along a bigger journey, and a few times in your life, there’s one you’d simply love to call home. At Hotel Pavillon de la Reine, a four-star, ivy-covered hideaway nestled comfortably in the 18th’s between the Bastille and the Marais, it’s love at first sight.
“The whole concept here is to have a place where people can come and feel like they’re in a Parisian home rather than in a hotel,” explains de la Reine manager Yves Monnin. “We don’t put labels everywhere, we try to have a front desk that’s relaxed and not so strict, we have an honesty bar in the front where people can help themselves to a drink before they go out. The idea is to make it feel like you are being received in friend’s home, not a guest.”
No wonder Jean-Paul Gaultier, famed bad boy of French fashion, selected here as his personal retreat for over two and a half years. French for “Home of the Queen,” Pavillon de la Reine is the first and only hotel in Place des Vosges, the square where Louis XIII married Anne of Austria in 1612. Enter de la Reine’s lobby and it’s immediately apparent what Monnin and Gaultier see in the place. Directly ahead, the front desk – hub of the 40-person operation where guests can find information ranging from train schedules to spa recommendations along with staff members fluent in 8 languages. To the left, the aforementioned honesty bar, stocked with plush chairs, high-end liquors, and the freedom to make your own tipple exactly how you like it. The lobby’s main attraction; however, is to the right. The Victor Hugo Library – a tea nook/literary homage to the 19th century writer whose home and museum still sit in Place des Vosges. Featuring all of Hugo’s novels as well as work from an array of other prominent French authors, the library is the perfect place to take off your shoes, curl up with a good book (and drink), and completely forget that you’re in a hotel.
Those who’d rather not risk falling asleep in public will find each the 56 personally designed rooms of Pavillon de la Reine more than accommodating. Think 17th century-style wallpapers and exposed beam ceilings meet 21st century amenities like flat screen televisions, dual-head showers, and Wi-fi access. While all la Reine rooms come with services one would expect in a four-star hotel – 24/7 room service, closets the size of small apartments, bathrobes that feel like you’re being hugged in velvet – it’s small details…the tiny monikered water glasses from Limoges in the bathroom, the hand-written card left on your pillow that gives daily forecasts in both Celsius and Fahrenheit, the basket of fresh fruit that welcomes you home each day…that make la Reine an experience just as memorable as the Eiffel Tower to passing travelers.
Those who want to join the ranks of Gaultier, Sharon Stone, John Malkovich, and the rest of de la Reine’s A-list clientele should book at least two weeks prior to their arrival, says Monnin, unless, of course, it’s fashion week. In March and October, rooms are typically taken by celebs and industry insiders; however, Monnin says that in the summer and winter off season, guests can find discounted rates as well as perks including free breakfast or river cruises on the Seine. Rooms range from singles to suites that can accommodate up to five people and Monnin encourages future guests to inquire about any family discounts and packages the hotel may be running.
Whether you’re looking for a sexy Parisian getaway or simply a comfortable spot to curl up with a book and coffee after a long day of touring the city, this is the place to do it without feeling like a formal patron. “What makes the Pavillon different is that everyone can do what one wants without hassle,” Monnin says. “That’s an atmosphere I don’t find in any other hotel in Paris.”
+33 1 43 55 96 42
11, Rue Lappe
Smokey, sultry, and undeniably swanky, this English-friendly Cuban bar gets packed early with both locals and tourists searching for top-notch cigars and mango daquiris.
Le Bar Bat
23, Rue Lappe
+33 1 43 14 26 06
Located just a few doors down from Havanita, Le Bar Bat has long been hailed as one of the most authentic Corsican joints in the city.
13 rue de Charonne
+01 47 00 34 57
No web site, no reservations, no English menu – Those who find a way to squeeze into this tiny, old school bistro will be rewarded with some of the tastiest food in town. The rabbit (le lapin) served in goat cheese is a dish bound to have foodies and amateurs alike salivating.