Tucked away in the 6th arrondissement, L’Hotel has such a roster of former guests, they almost deserve a hall of fame: Marlon Brando, Jorge Luis Borges, Johnny Depp and, of course Oscar Wilde (who died in one of the rooms after residing there for two years). You can understand the star appeal on entering the bar – silk wall drapes, velvet poufs, marble and gold gilt columns and a regal colour palette of forest greens, reds and purples. Opulent and eccentric, it remains tasteful (even with a leopard print carpet). It’s easy to imagine plans being hatched and debauchery being set in motion in a joint like this.
Cocktails are a well-executed mix of traditional and inventive – a Grandma’s Hendricks (combining green tea, gin and St. Germain liqueur) comes served in a dainty tea cup (€19) and several pay tribute to the hotel’s most famous guest (Dorian Gray and Born to be Wilde for example). Tilda Swinton has even put her stamp on a violette, champagne and lime concoction, simply called The Usual. However, the lack of background music is a passion killer – on our visit, it was eerily quiet despite being half-full. For a setting this badass, L’Hotel’s bar deserves to be a little more rock n’roll. Then again, perhaps it’s already had its fair share.