Boutique hotels aren't all that easy to pin down; consider them a cross between bed and breakfasts, luxury stays and design hotels. They typically offer fewer than 50 rooms and boast original interior features and architecture, as well as bespoke services. We've been investigating and our selection of the best boutique hotels is proof that they often beat the five-star establishments at their own game, so be warned – check-in and you may never want to leave.
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Nestled in the confines of the 2nd arrondissement, on the discreet rue Marivaux, La Maison Favart has been neighbours with the Opéra-Comique since 1824. Staff are warm and smiley, while decor is clean, refined and elegant with its pastel tones and plaid carpets. There’s some serious romanticism in the cascade bath, fitness room, sauna and massage device – ensuring the most relaxing of experiences to bat away everyday stresses and strains.
Between place de Clichy and Gare Saint-Lazare, in the Saint-Georges area, l'Hôtel Design Secret de Paris will take your breath away. There are 29 rooms and 21 with a private jacuzzi, with decor that offers a surreal, six-stop tour of the city. But don’t let that stop you from discovering Paris for real. Hôtel Design Secret de Paris has everything on hand to help unwind after a hardcore day of pounding the pavements of Paris – relax in the wellness area, complete with massages, a sauna and a hammam.
This hotel’s past is certainly colourful. This former brothel is hidden away from the world and keeps the Belle Epoque Pigalle of yesteryear alive – at least in spirit. It’s got a serious Arabian Nights vibe: 1895 Cordoba leather on the walls, Moorish earthenware, porcelain, copper and bric-a-brac furniture – all of it is magnificent. Once you’ve acquainted yourself with its risqué history, you can plunge into the other dazzling commodities: a bar serving delicious cocktails and the spa, complete with a swimming pool you can rent by the hour.
Go back in time by ascending the spiral stairs, treading the velvet carpets and climbing up to your room. In the corridors of the Grand Pigalle Hotel, it seems as if time has stopped. A night-blue colour palette with touches of gold gives the hotel and its 37 rooms a Romantic classic Parisian atmosphere. From the fourth floor balcony you can see silhouettes in the Villa Frochot gardens and envelope yourself in the white satin sheets post-bath. With the cosy bedding and softened light, you don’t get more comfortable than this.
Located on one of the most beautiful squares in Paris, the Pavillon de la Reine seems like it's always been there and staying at this luxury hotel is a real treat. Expect to feel at ease as soon as you walk in; with an entry situated between two art galleries and a cosy private terrace. Everything has been designed with comfort in mind – the soundproofed silence is even a little unsettling at first. Then there’s the fruit basket, private parking, spa, wifi, minibar, room service, concierge, valet parking, 24-hour reception etc.
With 20 rooms, four on each floor, a restaurant (which has kept its Michelin star since 2006) and cosy bar, l'Hôtel is thought to be one of the smallest five star stays in Paris. Nestled under the arches, the small pool can be rented out privately to guests by the hour and the the bar is the perfect place to surrender the second part of the evening - preferably sunken in one of their padded olive-green chairs.
La Belle Juliette offers two faces but one story: of Juliette Récamier, a nineteenth-century heroine who hosted a literary salon. Each floor has a decorative theme corresponding to a period in Juliette’s life; exile, Italy, her relationship with Chateaubriand, her time in the salons, her friendships and her suitors. All the unknown beauty is sure to amaze. The rooms are decked out in a contemporary Scandinavian style, contrasted with period pieces. Opulent fabrics and technology blend subtly – for example, there’s an iMac in every room.
Across from the Conseil d’Etat on rue de Valois, the Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal barely draws attention from the outside. But once you’re in it’s all classic facades, large Disney princess-style staircases and high ceilings. This is also the place to drink in the view of the city’s most beautiful monuments; from the Sacré-Coeur to the Eiffel Tower, via the Tour Montparnasse and the Haussmannian roofs. Although not all rooms get this picture-perfect vista, you’ll certainly get a view of the area around Palais Royal or the secret courtyard. Linen, wood, marble and period furniture make everything the height of comfort.
If Leonardo Da Vinci were to have a Parisian hotel, it would undoubtedly be between the Seine and the Louvre. So it’s no surprise that Hotel Da Vinci is on the famous rue des Saints-Pères, close to Saint-Germain and a few metres from Ile de la Cité. This cramped yet charming 24-room hotel celebrates the master of the Renaissance. Nods to Leonardo are everywhere, from the entrance to the rooms – room 204 for example includes the indigo found in ‘Madonna with the Carnation’. Exposed beams and antique lamps in each room give the place an atmosphere of the Paris of yesteryear.
Hidden between the Golden Triangle and Place de l'Etoile, Hotel Vernet has maintained its splendour and elegance for almost 100 years. The entrance and elevator are a vision of wood and glass, surrounded by stunning stained glass windows. The apartments are very zen, with Carrara marble basins, glass mosaics and brass fittings. In the evening, rendezvous under the sublime stained glass dome designed by Gustave Eiffel at V, the hotel’s restaurant.