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Je ne sais quoi – some hotels unique to Paris

Secret garden of hidden gem, Hotel Particulier Montmartre
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Parisians have a way of giving whatever they do a certain something, an indefinable quality that is immediately recognized as their own. It may be the way a Frenchman sitting in a café wraps a cashmere scarf around his neck, the way the salade composé served in the lowliest bistro looks like a work of art or the way almost every Metro tunnel seems to be decorated by an artist.

 

Paris hotels are no exception. Parisian luxury hotels are luxurious in an indescribably Parisian way. And all over the city, there are hotels and accommodations that would never seem at home anywhere but Paris.


Stylish Townhouses


Eighteenth and 19th century townhouses, tucked away behind walls or within their own courtyard gardens offer quiet stays in elegant surroundings. The Hotel Particulier Monmartre, in a private mansion that once belonged to the Hermès family, is hidden away behind two sets of gates and down a private road at the top of Monmartre. The gardens that surround it were designed by the same landscape architect responsible for new gardens at Elysée and the Tuileries. A few steps away, near Sacre Coeur, L'Ermitage is a more modest, family-run hotel with garden terraces to the rear, that feels like a country bed and breakfast with Parisian views. And Pavillon de la Reine, set back through an arched passage from the exquisite circa 1612 Place des Vosges, is the ultimate Parisian hideaway - hidden in plain sight.


Unusual Hotels


It's normal for Paris's grandest hotels to have Michelin star restaurants. Less common, but very Parisian, are the hotels opened by chefs with one or two Michelin stars to their credit. Hotel Thoumieux, off the beaten path on rue Saint-Dominique, is a few eccentrically decorated luxury rooms over a bistro and the two-star restaurant gastronomique of Jean-Francois Piège, once head chef at the Crillon.


The number of Parisian buildings classified as ancient monuments results in some rather unusual rooms and public spaces. The Hotel Jeu de Paume for example, was originally a jeu de paume, or real tennis court built for King Louis XIII in the early 1600s.


Design Hotels


As the world capital of fashion, it's not surprising that design and fashion figure in the concept and décor of quite a few Paris hotels. Phillipe Starck's designs are visible in hotels as diverse as the luxury 5-star Meurice and the very hip, alternative and moderately priced Mama Shelter. And Paris is one city where fashion designers can be called in to "dress" hotels. Outrageous fashion designer Christian Lacroix has two couture hotels to his credit, the Hotel Bellechasse and the Hotel du Petit-Moulin - where guests enter through what appears to be an old boulangerie - a bread bakery.

 

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