If you could travel anywhere and anytime, what would it be? My response, much like Owen Wilson’s in Midnight in Parishas always been the Paris of the 1920s, when you could meet Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald at Les Deux Magots, or see Joséphine Baker perform at the Folies Bergère.
Well, I was able to live out that fantasy (sort of) during a recent stay at one of the hottest new hotels in Paris. You see, the Kimpton St Honoré may only have opened last year, but to walk through its doors is to find yourself in the Roaring Twenties.
The property is located in what was once the luxury outpost of La Samaritaine, the famous Parisian department store. The work of architect Frantz Jourdain, who also designed the original emporium on the banks of the Seine, the 1917 building astonishes with its Art Nouveau facade: wrought iron balconies, whimsical clean lines and large arched windows once the site exhibitions of complex products.
Inside, the original features have been beautifully restored. The ornate spiral staircase winds through the heart of the hotel, while vintage paneled elevators now function as cozy reading nooks in the lobby. A nod to the structure’s history, Parisian design darling Charles Zana has married art deco style with contemporary accents. The result reads like classically Parisian with a dash of whimsy: curved bouclé sofas, plenty of brass and velvet cushions in sumptuous jewel tones.
As for the rooms, each is reminiscent of a chic Parisian apartment, with gorgeous wall moldings, meticulously selected artwork, and a balcony overlooking some of the city’s most historic avenues. Windows soar floor-to-ceiling, beds are as plush as they come, and bathrooms feel like a private spa with marble floors and vanities, and lovely deep soaking tubs.
For a real spa, I suggest you put on your bathrobe and slippers and go down to the basement of the hotel. There, a heated indoor pool, steam room, and sauna await, along with rows of plush loungers. (You can also treat yourself to a fully personalized body or facial treatment according to your needs with Codage products formulated in the South of France.)
I decide this is my favorite part of the hotel until a trip to the top floor steals the honor. This is where you will find Sequoia. The breathtaking rooftop bar serves cocktails and appetizers with a side of 360-panoramic views of the center of Paris. You have the Eiffel Tower on one side, while on the other you are so close to the Opera Garnier that you could practically reach out and touch it. It technically only operates in the warmer months, but hotel guests are welcome to hop on and experience it year-round. Bring some wine or champagne with you and toast to what is sure to be the most memorable aperitif (i.e. the appetizer) of your trip.
For a restaurant that is open year-round, head to Montecito, a modern take on a brasserie infused with a touch of California flair, a nod to the Kimpton Group’s roots in San Francisco. Think: lobster rolls on toasted brioche bread, Comté pizzetta and fresh truffle, and, Of course, French friesaka fries. The restaurant overlooks an interior courtyard surrounded by verdant plant walls. Floors are terrazzo, banquettes upholstered in rich teal velvet, and tabletops cut from jade marble. It’s the dreamiest setting for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or as the French say, breakfast, lunch or dinner), or for a nightcap at the majestic curved bar.
If you want to go out to eat, you are exceptionally well located. Café de la Paix, one of Paris’ most iconic cafes, is just around the corner, overlooking the aforementioned Opera (it’s also the setting for Hemingway’s short story My pal), while Flottes, an excellent brasserie par excellence recommended by the hotel concierge, is an eight-minute walk away (right next to the Chanel flagship on rue Cambon, I’m just saying).
In the mood to walk a little more, I go down rue de Rivoli, along the Louvre, then cross the Seine. I stop mid-bridge to admire Notre-Dame on my left, the Grand Palais on my right, and continue a little further until I come to a small table with chairs in front (so Parisian, so perfect for people watching) at Deux Magots. I feast on a gooey croque-monsieur while admiring the chic passers-by. The Lipp Brewery, another Hemingway haunt, looks across the street.
After a stop at the Musée d’Orsay, where I feast my eyes on masterpieces by Monet, Renoir and Degas, I return to the hotel, stopping for a moment in the Tuileries gardens to savor a warm chestnut cream – pancake stuffed by the round basin. It’s the second day of my trip and I feel the jet lag catching up. Fortunately, the comfort of my faux pied-à-terre is only a few steps away. I fill the tub with bubbles, pull out my worn-out copy of A moving party and just… Relax. Because it’s good to be in the city, to soak up its history and its buzzing energy, it’s even better when you can come “home” afterwards.
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Accommodation for Katherine Lalancette was provided by Kimpton St Honoré Paris. Kimpton St Honoré Paris has not reviewed or approved this story.