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These Two Parisian Gems Are Havens of Old-World Charm
Among the joys of Paris are its small boutique hotels. In the best of these, old-world charm and personal service are wedded to the kind of luxury normally associated with much more obvious glamour.
Seasoned Paris hands used to try to keep the details of these low-key, discreet places to themselves, but times have changed. These days, anyone who likes the idea of a quiet, chic and privileged hideaway in the French capital and whose bank balance can bear the freight-- which is admittedly significant-- can enjoy a stay.
Read related feature: Top Luxury Boutique Hotels in Paris
Two Parisian Gems
Le Pavillon de la Reine is a romantic, ivy-clad city mansion with a private courtyard and a peaceful spa tucked away behind the arches of Place des Vosges, one of the prettiest public squares in Paris.
We recently sampled both. Read on for our full reviews.
SEE NEXT PAGE: Hôtel St Regis, A Classy Bolt-Hole for a Designer Splurge
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.
Review of the Hôtel San Régis: A Classy Bolt-Hole for a Designer Splurge
The only thing flashy about Rue Jean Goujon is its location, in the area known as the Golden Triangle, near the iconic Avenue des Champs-Élysées. It's a tasteful terrace of gleaming white city mansions in a Second Empire style. At number No.12, a decorative glass and wrought iron entrance signals the Hôtel San Régis.
An Exquisite Townhouse with an Impressive Pedigree
After beginning life as a private home in 1857, the building was turned into a hotel in 1923 by Simon André Terrail, founder of the famous French palace hotel, the Georges V, and the legendary restaurant La Tour d'Argent.
In the hotel's 1950s heyday, celebrated American photographer Richard Avedon staged fashion shoots for Harper's Bazaar here. Later guests like Lauren Bacall, Gene Kelly, Candace Bergen, Louis Malle and Yves Montand stayed under the press radar while fashion and jewelry shopping around the corner at Dior, Nina Ricci and Harry Winston.
Since acquiring the hotel in the mid 1980s, the current owners, the Georges family, have restored and refurbished each of the 30 rooms and 12 suites with individual style. In 2012, the hotel was awarded its 5th star. Their stated objective was to create an "authentic aspect of an elegant and intimate Parisian home."
We'd say they've succeeded - from the wonderful and comfortable decor to the relaxed warmth of the impeccable service.
Luxury rooms and suites feature antique furniture and original paintings, set against beautiful fabrics-- Pierre Frey, Brunschwig & Fils- Italian marble, Baccarat crystal and period bronzes. Classic rooms-- the more basic category-- are soft and simple, with Art Deco touches.
Bathrooms, many in Italian marble, have large baths or showers (some have both), fluffy robes and generous quantities of Hermès toiletries.
All rooms are equipped with a tea and coffee making tray (typical of British hotels but still uncommon in France), free WiFi, hair dryers, two direct phone lines, television with a good selection of international channels, minibar, clock radio, a work desk with plenty of outlets for your electronics and in-room safes.
Rooms are also equipped with adjustable heating and air conditioning but, if we have to quibble, we did have a problem getting our room comfortably warm. The previous guest had been smoking in the room (against the law in France as it is in most places these days). In an effort to clear the room for us, the staff had thrown open the windows during a particularly cold October day in Paris. It didn't really warm up again until we were ready for bed.
Dining at the Hotel
We only sampled breakfast in the hotel's new restaurant and bar, Les Confidences du San Régis and, while the breakfast was fresh and generous (a buffet with smoked salmon and beautiful fresh fruit, plus cooked breakfasts to order), I do always find hotel breakfasts overpriced and overstuffed for the quantity of food I am ready to eat first thing. If, like me, you like a smaller breakfast, pass up the buffet and opt for a lighter selection, a la carte.
That said, the suite of dining rooms, with its atrium and lovely winter garden, is a very welcoming environment. I would love to visit again to sample a drink, afternoon tea, lunch or dinner in this beautiful room. There is also a 24-hour room service menu.
Le Pavillon de la Reine: A Romantic Spa Hotel Fit for a Queen
Place des Vosges is one of the most beautiful public spaces in Europe. Commissioned by King Henri IV between 1605 and 1612, it is the oldest planned square in Paris. The square, situated between the Marais and Bastille districts, is a rhythmic parade of harmonious brick townhouses and vaulted stone arches.
Step through one of these arches on the north end of the square to find Le Pavillon de la Reine, the only hotel in the Place des Vosges. It's an ivy-covered, 17th-century town mansion, named in honor of Anne of Austria, who once lived there. Today it offers discreet, private luxury in the heart of Paris.
The hotel's 54 rooms and suites have a variety of outlooks but all overlook the courtyard garden, a private internal garden or a quiet cul de sac. They are decorated in a plush, chic style, combining antique and contemporary furnishings to reference the building's historic setting while providing all the luxury comforts required by modern guests. That includes round-the-clock room service, flatscreen televisions, complimentary WiFi, air conditioning, iPod docking systems, and iPad on request. Bathrooms are equipped with good quality hair dryers, fluffy bathrobes and Molton Brown toiletries. While amenities may be totally up-to-date, the service delivered by staff is decidedly old-school in the very best sense of the expression: attentive, pleasant and thoroughly professional.
The hotel's special treat is below stairs: a small but luxuriously appointed spa with a gym, jacuzzi, steam room and two treatment rooms where a full menu of facial and body treatments can be booked. Immaculate changing rooms for men and women have mosaic rain showers as well as generous supplies of towels, robes and slippers. There is a seasonally changing menu of special offers that can be added to the room rate, including one that combines spa treatments, local guided tours, refreshments and parking in the hotel's private garage.
Dining at the Hotel
A buffet breakfast and afternoon tea are served in two stylish salons, the Library and the Fireplace Salon, where guests can also relax and greet friends over a drink from the "honor" bar. There are no other dining or bar options at the hotel - a bit of a shortcoming in an area where what's locally on offer can be hard to find. Thankfully, the hotel's concierge has plenty of good suggestions.