Our indomitable head of hotel relations, Peggy, just landed back in Smith HQ from a mission to find the crème de la crème of hotels in Paris. Anthony harassed her for the luxury lowdown…
Anthony So Peggy, you’ve been noseying around Paris for Mr & Mrs Smith – where did you go and what did you get up to?
Peggy I stayed in the Montparnasse area and also visited St Germain des Pres and the Champs Elysées…
Anthony How long were you there? Was it business or pleasure? Or a bit of both?
Peggy I was there for four days on business but it ended up being a very pleasurable trip, since Paris was so empty and relaxed.
Anthony Of course – Parisians usually disappear off for their holidays in August, don’t they? Does that make it the best time of year to visit?
(Because it’s less busy generally, not because Paris is better without the Parisians, natch)
Peggy Yes they do, so Paris is rather empty (still a few tourists in evidence though!). Most of the shops and restaurants are closed but if you do your homework beforehand and make sure the hotel you’re staying at helps with restaurant bookings, you’ll be fine. The Metro is uncrowded, no one pushes you and there are no delays/strikes, which is always a bonus in this city! Most of the main museums and attractions are open and again, less crowded. You’ll also get the best hotel deals.
Anthony Well, I’m sold. So, speaking of hotels… Which ones were you snooping around?
Peggy I stayed at the Hotel des Academies et des Arts in Montparnasse. It’s a small 3* hotel with 4* service and their 5th floor used to be Modigliani‘s workshop. Montparnasse is where real Parisians hang out and it’s also home to some of the best brasseries in Paris, including La Coupole. The Jardins du Luxembourg are also minutes away, as well as Le Bon Marche, Paris’ oldest department store.
Anthony Sounds like a great find, in an unbeatable location. So will Hotel des Academies et des Arts be joining Smith’s burgeoning Paris collection?
Peggy Yes it will – I think it’s a great alternative to our more expensive hotels (rooms there start from €187 a night)
Anthony But pocket-money -friendly pricing aside, what else has it got going for it?
Anthony Er, Jerome who?
Am I shockingly out of step with Continental contemporary art?
Peggy Mesnager – French artist who paints white bodies
Didn’t know him beforehand, either…
Anthony Ah yes, got him (thank you wikipedia). Very funky stuff. Sort of eerie mannequin street art type gubbins.
Anthony I like. So what else did you find?
Peggy We discovered a gem of a house called L’Hotel Particulier, hidden in a quiet residential street in Montmartre, near the buzzing Sacre Coeur.
Anthony L’Hotel P’s been on the Smith site for a while now, hasn’t it?
Peggy No it’s not the same – the one we have is in Arles.
Anthony Sorry – so many hotels these days I get confused…So what’s so special about this one?
Peggy L’Hotel Particulier is the first ‘private guesthouse’ of its kind in Paris so it is the current talk of the town. Montmartre, where it’s located, is a very artistic place so the hotel owner has asked young contemporary artists to give their own personal touch to each of the five suites.
Anthony Looks gorgeous…
Anthony <reading blurb> Any idea what ‘the witch’s rock’ is? The “Rocher de la sorcière” ?
Peggy it’s a huge rock just in front of the hotel – behind it, steep stairs but also a brilliant view of the Eiffel Tower.
Anthony Aha. I love the fact there’s a room called ‘Tree with Ears’ – sounds like a Dali sculpture…
In fact there’s seems to be a slightly surrealist feel to a lot of the rooms
Peggy It’s absolutely gorgeous and so romantic.
Peggy Yes, you’re absolutely right.
Each artist was asked to feature their work within one particular room.
Anthony That seems to be quite a trend. We’ve a few other hotels where different artists have been involved in the decor. Farol Design Hotel in Cascais, recently commissioned nine Portuguese artists to revamp their rooms..
Do you have a favourite room at Particulier then?
Peggy I loved the Tree with Ears room.
Anthony Just for the name alone, surely.
Peggy …and the Poem and Hats room.
Anthony Ditto. They’ve a way with names, clearly.
Any other Parisian pads make the Peggy shortlist?
Peggy Of the Smith hotels in paris we already have, I love Pershing Hall for its location and Franco-Japanese restaurant; Le Placide is my Rive Gauche favourite – you’re five minutes from the Boulevard St Germain.
Another new favourite, though, is Hotel Keppler near the Champs Elysees, which I visited. It’s location is totally unexpected as it’s tucked away in a small street off Avenue Marceau (next to Avenue George V). Elegant and serene.
Anthony And what’s Keppler like? I’m not getting much from the website, other than the fact it’s ‘GROUNDBRAKING’. Paint me a picture.
Peggy Keppler is more grown-up; decorated by French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon (he’s decorated a lot of famous places including the Four Seasons George V). Elegant decor and bold colours, like a private home. Reception is just a desk and two chairs (comfy) and the lounge looks nothing like a run-of-the-mill hotel lounge.
Anthony That sounds lovely – I think there’s a trend developing for more informal, welcoming, homely places in the hotel world (like the resurgence of inns in the UK), wouldn’t you agree?
Peggy Completely agree – overpolished and impersonal is definitely out.
Anthony Well, I’m looking forward to seeing the results of your hotel-hunting on the Smith site. Before we get back to our actual, real, non-blog chatty work, do you have any tips for Smiths on a Parisian city break?
Peggy First: ditch the taxis and take the bus, rent a velib or take the metro – so much nicer and you’ll become as savvy as a Parisian in no time.
Anthony A velib? Que est-que c’est? (See? I’m fluent.)
Peggy I can see that! It’s a rental bike provided by the city. Paris has recently added a lot more cycling lanes so it’s much easier for bikes to get around the city. It’s cheap and there are bike terminals in all the arrondissements, generally close to metro stations.
Anthony Okay, thanks peggy. I’ll let you get back to hotel-relating now. When’s the new Paris collection launching?
Peggy Jan? Don’t think you can fit it in beforehand right?
Anthony Ha ha. Don’t even go there…
Peggy So is Jan reasonable for a Paris launch?
Anthony I’ll do my best…
Peggy Merci Antoine!
Anthony De rien! Au revoir!