Tag Archives: Design Hotel

Stylish sleeping on the Left Bank

The Left Bank is synonymous with literary cafes, the Existential philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, bourgeois art galleries and gauche chic designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Sonia Rykiel.  Nowadays, the philosophers may have decamped from the Café de Flore, but there are still plenty of students from the Sorbonne university and academic bookshops to keep up its ‘intellectual’ atmosphere.

On one of our many Paris visits last year, Steven and I stayed at the Hotel Design Sorbonne, which is just a few steps away from the Boulevard Saint Germain, the Pantheon, Luxembourg Gardens, the Seine and of course, the Sorbonne.

The hotel is tucked away on a peaceful side street and is accessed by a quaint courtyard. The reception/lounge area is a mix of a typical French salon interior and bold, contemporary colours, flock wallpaper and striped velvet seating.  There are a number of coffee table books, magazines and Paris attraction maps, as well as an iMac for web browsing. 

 hotel sorbonne lobby

The corridor looks like something surreal from a Jeunet and Caro film, with custers of quirky photographs and lines of poetry emblazoned on the carpet. 

hotel sorbonne

Our room had a dark, romantic atmosphere due to colour scheme of chartreuse, silver and black – even curtains and doors were black!  The bed was extremely comfy, with fluffy pillows, crisp cotton linen and a throw in complementing colours.

The bathroom had beautiful dusky brown and gold flock tiles but was pretty tiny, although I’ve heard that they have rooms with larger ones if you’re staying for longer and need more space.

Like most forward-thinking hotel, they have installed an Apple iMac in each room, so you can access the web and watch TV and DVDs without hassle.  It seems that hotels now want to give guests a more homely experience, rather than leaving us detached from the world, charging guests 10 Euros a day for using wifi. It also eases them off unnecessary concierge duties!

 hotel sorbonne

We ate breakfast outside and tried out the bakeries around the rue de Buci for a croissant and café crème, although the breakfast room at the hotel looked delicious.  

One thing that impressed me most about the hotel is that they have since kept in touch by email and regularly report on their fabulous meanderings around the city on their Paris newsblog.  I had serious food envy over their tasting session of mille-feuilles by legendary Paris pâtissier, Pierre Hermé and am planning to eat at La Bouche, a laid-back restaurant with innovative cuisine in Ménilmontant, which they visited and recommended.

hotel sorbonne breakfast

Hotel Design Sorbonne is part of the Hôtels de Paris Rive Gauche group, that runs three other boutique hotels on the Left Bank, with the hotly anticipated BJ luxury design hotel (formerly the Hotel Ferrandi) opening next Autumn.  If you want a ‘home away from home’ or a more private stay, they also have a designer studio in the Marais, a bijou apartment by the Canal Saint Martin for up to four people and a luxury apartment in the Mouffetard area.

Hotel Design Sorbonne is the perfect base for Paris newbies, as it is within walking distance of the chic designer shops on the Boulvard Saint Germain, the buzzy Latin Quarter, the markets on Rue Mouffetard and of course, the Seine.  The hotel is quiet at night due to its side street position, so if it’s all about getting up and out  in the morning, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good night’s sleep.

Photo Credit

Rates range from 100 – 350 Euros per night and a continental buffet breakfast is 12 Euros.

Hotel Design Sorbonne, 6,  rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris. £

Metro: Line 10 : Cardinal Lemoine, Cluny Sorbonne. RER B : Luxembourg.

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Boutique hotels on a budget in Paris

Christmas time in London is always magical, with ice skating at Somerset House, German markets in Hyde Park and Covent Garden’s piazza all lit up, but after what feels like a lifetime since the last summer beach holiday, I’m just dying to get away for a few days.

Next month I’m going to Paris (my ‘third home’) for a few nights and now is the time when I obsessively search for the prettiest hotels in the area I want to stay in and then trawl the net for the best deals.  For most people may sound like a pain worse than death, not a secret indulgence, so if you’re planning a winter city break, I’ve done some of the leg work so you can pick the best affordable boutique hotels – I’ve stayed in all of them and would definitely visit again.

A while ago, I went to Paris with my mum and as we planned a night at the Opéra Bastille and particularly love the Marais, we booked to stay three nights the affordable design hotel Le Quartier Bastille Le Faubourg, an affordable design hotel in the 12e arondissement.

le quartier reception

The hotel is sleek and contemporary with retro features like curved leather seats, fringing and glass orbs in the reception/lounge.  When you arrive, you’re hit with the kind of seductive, wood and musk aroma that you’d expect from Hôtel Costes.

Neutral tones with bold statement colours are the order for the bedrooms and they have cool design touches like perspex chairs, a flatscreen TV and a very touchable fibre optic light feature.  The beds are so comfortable that you just can’t wait to curl up in the crisp, cotton linen and catch some zzzs after a long day walking in the city.  They also place delicious Granny Smith apples on your pillows each morning to help you get your five a day amid the steak and fromage overload.

le quartier hotel

The best feature of the hotel is its beautiful outside terrace with wooden decking and red tables, beautiful plants and flowers and gardening can watering features. Paris is full of secret courtyards and Paris fashionistas flock to them for brunch or drink with a bit of secluded people-watching.

le quartier hotel

We didn’t have breakfast at the hotel (although it looked delicious), but we found an adorable bakery on the Rue du Faubourg St-Antoine where you could sit and have a café crème and pastries.

Le Quartier are a small hotel group that used to own a property near République and now also run Le Quartier Bercy-Square on the nearby Boulevard de Reuilly.  The staff were friendly and talkative and there are plenty of coffee table books and magazines like Madame Figaro to keep you amused.

Rates seem to start at 110 Euros a night for a double classic room in November and December, but check around the web for the best deals (we paid 95 Euros when we stayed).

Le Quartier Bastille Le Faubourg is best suited to second-timers in Paris who are familiar with getting around on the metro.  The location doesn’t have the grandeur of the Louvre area or the Left Bank, but you get a boutique hotel with individual design touches without the sky-high prices of more central hotels.  It’s one of the best places to sleep in style and still have enough Euros left for late-night aperitifs.

Le Quartier Bastille Le Faubourg, 9 Rue De Reuilly, 75012 Paris

Mama knows best…

After years of searching for that perfect Paris hotel, I never thought the answer to my prayers would be found way out in the 20th arrondissement! Le quartier Saint-Blaise may not have the elegant appeal of Hausmann’s linear boulevards, but it is a charmingly untouched and arty area that is sure to be heralded as ‘the new Belleville’.

I am a huge fan of Marie-Antoinette decadence and usually seek out hotels decked out in the most elaborate toile de jouy, but the Hackney girl in me screamed out for more postmodern adventures…

Mama Shelter reception

A ‘luxury industrial refuge’ seems like a rather abrasive contradiction in terms that, but Mama Shelter does have a sense of humour and a surprisingly warm and vibrant atmosphere – no snooty model/receptionists peering down their noses at you.

After getting used to the exposed concrete walls and dangerous-looking giant power switch, the Phillippe Starck-designed rooms feel like a home away from home (albeit a très stylish abode). They feature a multi-purpose Apple iMac, kitchenette with a microwave, more-than-travel-sized Kiehls shower gel and shampoo and those dreamy beds that make you sleep in and miss your alarm!

Mama Shelter room

Mama Shelter is all about affordable luxury and has clearly been tailor-made for design-conscious folk who don’t want the cultural experience to end when they head back to the room for the night. It’s a real labour of love created in pain-staking detail by French hotel powerhouse the TRIGANO family (co-founder of Club Med) and philosopher Cyril Aouizerate, whose intellectual presence is very much sewn into the fabric of the hotel.

Mama Shelter restaurant

But the real jewel in Mama Shelter’s crown is the buzzing but cosy restaurant and terrace. Hotel guests seem to get priority, but you still need to book ahead as it gets pretty busy. The bar staff are painfully good looking but friendly and a little bit flirty (well, why not), oh and the food is rather fantastic too, but more about that later.

There is now a guide to all the coolspots in Saint-Blaise that you can download from the Mama Shelter website and they’ve recently opened the rooftop terrace for lazy, summer BBQs – what more can you want? Well, maybe a spa, but I’m not going to push my luck!

Stroll along to:
Gambetta, Belleville, Ménilmontant, Cimetière Père Lachaise, Rue Oberkampf.
Drink in: La Fleche D’Or, Le Gambetta, La Bellevilleoise
Put on your iPod: Friendly Fires ft. Au Revoir Simone, Paris (Aeroplanes remix)

Mama Shelter, 109 Rue de Bagnolet, 75020, Paris.
Rooms start at €79 a night and the best deals are on their website.