Paris is home to plenty of grand hotels. The Four Seasons George V, for instance, could ruin you for life. Spend just one night in the Shangri-La, and they may have to pull you out kicking and screaming.
But while those luxury experiences are distinctly Parisian in their opulence and abundance, sometimes you crave something a little smaller, a little more intimate. Taking a room in a boutique hotel immediately lends a sense of community to your stay in a neighborhood.
The boutique hotel industry is thriving in Paris right now, and the numbers make it difficult to choose. How do you know whether an obscure hotel halfway around the world will enhance your experience? Smaller hotels can be hit or miss in Europe, which is why we have found three boutiques that will bring something truly unique to your next Parisian vacation.
1. Hotel du Petit Moulin
Am I in Paris or I have I fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole into Wonderland, I wondered as we walked into the whimsical lobby of du Petite Moulin.
The colorful lobby of Petit Moulin. (Photo: Petit Moulin)
Set in a 17th-century building, originally home to Paris’s first bakery, where Victor Hugo would come to buy his baguettes, this hotel has retained many of its historic elements, including a quirky labyrinthine layout. In 2004, the designer Christian Lacroix transformed the building into a true couture hotel — modern and bold, yet harmonious and stylish, with each tiny detail corresponding exactly to the overall atmosphere of the space.
A view from inside one of the rooms. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
There are 16 individually designed rooms and one junior suite, each telling a different story of the Marais neighborhood. All are theatrical and playful.
A full honor bar with wine and liquor is available in the Crayola-colored café downstairs if you wish to just stay in and get cozy at petite wooden tables instead of exploring the bustling neighborhood outside.
Play bartender at the honor bar. (Photo: Nick Aster)
29 Rue de Poitou, rooms start at 208 euros a night.
2. Jules & Jim
Blink and you’ll miss the understated entrance to Jules & Jim on Rue des Gravilliers in the Marais district, just a couple of blocks from the Pompidou Center. The hotel is a mishmash of three townhouses, brought together around a central courtyard.
I booked this spot on a whim weeks before my Parisian journey, knowing little except that I liked the name. In preparation we watched the 1962 Truffaut film, which proved enjoyable as a cinematic exercise but fruitless as a portal into our lodgings. We soon learned that the space had little in common with the tragic love triangle besides its moniker.
I chose the two smallest of the 23 minimalist rooms, the ones on the eighth floor, tucked beneath the eaves of the main building’s rooftop. In our nook of a room we were able to touch the couch, the closet, and the bathroom while lying in bed. Yet somehow the room didn’t feel especially crowded, even with two people. The benefit of taking the smaller rooms on the top floor is the addition of a small balcony, just large enough for two chairs, looking out over the rooftops of Le Marais.
The view from the attic rooms. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
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The ground floor is decorated with rotating photo exhibitions selected by local gallery owners, and the downstairs bar is happening most nights of the week until about midnight, playing host to live music and an upscale cast of locals in addition to hotel guests.
When we got back well after midnight one evening, the front desk clerk was more than happy to open up the locked bar so we could enjoy one final glass of red wine by the courtyard fireplace before retiring for the night.
11 Rue des Gravilliers, rooms start at 200 euros
3. Hotel Amour
Paris is a city that compels you to ruminate on love. Whether that means falling in love with a person or with the city itself, this is the hotel to celebrate that sentiment and passion. You’ll find Hotel Amour at the end of Montmarte’s red light district, which promises a hearty dose of enlightening nightlife.
The neighborhood is still cleaning up its act, but that is half of the fun. (Photo: Hotel Amour)
Each of the 24 rooms in this former brothel is decorated with a different style connected to the general theme of love and eroticism. Two rooms have a terrace and a private bar, large enough to host an intimate private party.
The decor here isn’t necessarily for everyone. (Photo: Hotel Amour)
The pitch-black corridors lend a certain drama to the surprise of opening a door to find yourself ensconced in a room of 200 mirrored disco balls or covered in erotic art.
The highlight of this hotel is almost certainly its trendy restaurant and bar, which are frequented by bright, young, fashionable Parisians. The food is simple but high in quality, and the patio might just afford one of the best spots for people watching in this part of town.
8 Rue Navarin, rooms start at 135 euros
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