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Paris hotels are the Soul of Boutique

The Eiffel Tower Suite at the Hotel Sezz
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Despite the French name, the trend for labeling small, designer-led hotels as "boutiques" began in the 1980s in New York and London as a reaction against the standardization of the large hotel chains. Perhaps the label was slow to catch on in Paris because the boutique spirit has always inhabited the city's charming small hotels.


In contrast to the grand luxury palace hotels that occupy imposing buildings in the "establishment areas of the Right Bank in the 1st and 8th arrondissements, boutique hotels in Paris crop up in small, interesting buildings dotted around some of the hippest areas of the city.

And in typically Parisian style, its boutique hotels are totally individual in style. Some focus on minimalist chic with high tech-lighting and in-room entertainments while others virtually wrap their guests in shiny, glittery, golden Belle Époque excess with tassels, fringes and furbelows aplenty.

Interestingly, you usually can't tell what you'll find inside a boutique hotel from its exterior. The ancient façade of a medieval building or the ornate entry of an 18th century baroque townhouse can conceal an ultra-modern interior with cutting edge features, an elaborate and formal interior as over-decorated as a 17th century courtesan or a relaxed and casual atmosphere decorated with graffiti artwork.

The 6th and 7th arrondissements on the Left Bank, including the Latin Quarter area around the Sorbonne and Saint-Germain des Prés are particularly good hunting grounds for stylish, boutique hideaways. So is the Place des Vosges in the Marais as well as anywhere with a splendid view. That's what the Hotel Sezz, in Passy has to recommend it. This 4-star design boutique hotel on the banks of the Seine, just 900 meters from the Eiffel Tower, was voted Paris's trendiest hotel in 2012 by a popular readers review site. Rooms are chic and decorated in a slightly masculine style in tones of grey and claret. The hotel has the first Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar in Paris and guests have free access to a serene hammam and hot tub.

Hotel La Placide in Saint-Germain des Prés is the place that pampered shoppers want to stay as it's just a few hundred feet from the famous Paris department store Bon Marché. The tall, narrow townhouse has only 11 guest rooms - two on each floor, with luxurious bathrooms and design accessories of white Moroccan leather, glass, chrome and crystal.

In the Latin Quarter, Artus Hotel is close to the rue de Buci Market, one of Paris's most authentic street markets. Here, in the heart of Revolutionary Paris, the surprise of 1950s designer prints in a 21st century take on the 1950s. And yet another surprise, in the midst of the ancient heart of Paris, the 31-room La Villa Saint-Germain-des-Prés blends antique accessories and furnishings with minimalist Japanese style for a thoroughly eclectic ambiance. Also in the Latin Quarter is the “L’hotel" – with an unassuming façade and an stunning circular interior, L’hotel was Oscar Wilde’s last home and has been welcoming exclusive guests for 200 years.


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