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If you're looking for something a little out of the ordinary in a Parisian hotel, you're in luck: the concept boutique hotel has been gaining traction in recent years, as the hotel industry competes with apartment rental services for visitors' attention and Euros. Rather than offering merely comfort and luxury amenities, these hotels are built around unusual and fantastic themes — from photography to history, magic and ice bars — that are nearly guaranteed to turn a stay into an unusual, and fun, experience. Provided that you don't mind a little camp and kitsch here and there, and enjoy thematic decor taken to whimsical extremes, a sojourn at one of these 6 quirky, cool design hotels in Paris will help inject a bit of color and fantasy into your next trip to the French capital.
OFF Paris Seine
Since the Seine River is the historic heart and soul of Paris, what could be cooler, and more environmentally appropriate, than staying in a hotel that literally floats on the world-famous river? The only hotel of its kind in the capital, the OFF is moored right nearby the Gare d'Austerlitz train station between the city's right and left bank. With a sleek, contemporary design, the hotel features 54 rooms, including four luxury suites, a plunge pool and a marina — perfect for water lovers. All of the rooms — which are distributed across the vessel's lower and upper decks — offer views of the Seine, from different angles and with diverse vantages over Parisian monuments, including Notre Dame Cathedral. The distinctive interior pathway was designed by renowned architect Gérard Ronzatti.
The cocktail bar, featuring a bright, unfussy-chic Scandinavian design, serves drinks, tapas, cheese and charcuterie platters at night; you can enjoy breakfast and brunch there during the day, while enjoying the scenery.
Hotel Design Secret de Paris
Is Paris one of your secret — or not so secret — obsessions? Do you love splashing walls at home and at work with images of the city's beloved landmarks, or enjoy reading all about its developments over many centuries? If so, this quirky 4-star design hotel located in a quiet stretch of the 9th arrondissement near Place de Clichy is an excellent choice. Themed entirely around the French capital, with each of the six luxurious rooms corresponding to some the city's most-iconic monuments and historic periods, the emphasis here is on comfort and quality crossed with whimsical and creative design. The owners have pulled off a difficult feat: creating a concept that's charming and inviting rather than overtly kitschy.
Two of the most sumptuous rooms, the Musee d'Orsay and the Trocadero, feature full jacuzzis with mood lighting control, for an extra-relaxing stay. The Orsay-themed room is dominated by clock designs alluding to the museum's own enormous, ornate black clock, dating to the time when the premises served as a train station. Meanwhile, the Trocadero room features art-deco elements and an elegant ambience reminiscent of the stately Palais de Chaillot.
The Eiffel Tower-themed standard room, dedicated to Paris' most famous monument, is a tad less luxurious, but still offers plenty of high-end amenities. Guests enjoy a bathrobe and slippers, controlled ambience lighting, a large LED flatscreen TV, minibar and roomy bathtub equipped with jets for a spa-like experience. The hotel also houses a downstairs sauna and hammer (steamroom).
The full breakfast is included in the price of the rooms, and is served in the pleasant dining area downstairs, which also serves as a bar and restaurant in the evening. The staff are warm and welcoming, and this is a four-star lodging option that offers comfort without fustiness or over-formality-- a refreshing combination for a city like Paris.
This arty but decidedly whimsical and entertaining boutique hotel nestled in the historic Montmartre neighborhood is an excellent choice for anyone harboring a passion for photography, astronomy, or both.
Each of the 4-star hotel's 18 air-conditioned rooms plunges visitors into the historic techniques of photography, offering an unusual backdrop for a stay in Paris. The black-and-white rooms feature anonymous black and white portraits, while the eight "Stargazer" rooms will win over anyone with fond childhood memories of star stickers or first telescope kits: a full, deep purple and black starry sky graces the ceiling, and the bedding and curtains are adorned with sparkles. The effect is child-like and more than a tad kitschy-- but in the best of ways.
The nine luxury suites push the fun concept even further, boasting experimental and interactive elements such as hidden cameras that take images of the room and then re-project them in other areas. Unless you're camera-shy, the concept is intriguing. Suite themes include the "Selfie" room, featuring brightly colored ceiling lights and a sumptuous, rounded bed surrounded by mirrors: ideal for the self-obsessed or the die-hard romantic.
There's also a bold-red Paparazzi-themed suite; a Polaroid suite, and a photo studio suite, complete with a vintage tripod camera, digital photo apparatus that resembles a photo booth, and a giant screen where the pictures you take are instantly projected on the walls. This last suite is probably the best choice for a romantic Parisian stay or for a honeymoon.
If you're interested in getting together a portfolio for personal or professional uses, there's even an onsite professional photo studio.
Whether you wish to get away from the summer heat or revel in the contemplative joys of winter, this concept hotel is a draw card for its Ice Kube bar, featuring counters, walls and chairs all made of ice. While the hotel itself sadly no longer has an ice room on offer, an evening at the ice bar, the only of its kind in the French capital, can make for a stay that's at once unusual, fun and elegant.
Nestled between Montmartre and the Gare du Nord — in close and convenient reach of the Eurostar station — the four-star hotel features a Scandinavian design with abundant white and grey shades, sparse furnishings and light wood. It's modern without feeling cold. Contemporary art lovers will appreciate the attention to design and the photography from two up-and-coming French lenses, Janol Apin and Nathalie Roux.
The ice bar, which can be visited only upon reserving (make sure to do so well ahead of your stay to avoid disappointment) serves a variety of vodkas and cocktails from Grey Goose. Deep blue and fuchsia lights play on the ice, creating a distinctive Arctic ambience reminiscent of the Northern lights.
The Grand Pigalle Hotel
With an elegant retro design inspired by Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel", this 4-star address in the ultra-stylish South Pigalle district has gained a solid following since it opened in 2015. Launched by The Experimental Group, already famous for their innovative cocktails, this luxury hotel's focus is on meticulous design details and stylish vibes, rather than ostentation or glitz.
The rooms are fitted with clever details that bring you back to a Paris Don Draper of "Mad Men" would likely have felt right at home in: ornately carved wood furniture, vintage radio and corded phone, cozy divan, minibars stocked with signature cocktails and dimmable lights. Each entrance door is affixed with a large, golden pineapple: yet another quirky and fun detail. Many rooms have leafy terraces and balconies where you can enjoy an al fresco meal or drink, at least during the warm season.
Meanwhile, the downstairs restaurant, wine and cocktail bar is one of the area's best places for a well-crafted, creative drink. The food menu is Italian-inspired with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients, and the buffet breakfast is of impeccable quality.
The Splendor Elysées
This hotel situated in the quiet 17th arrondissement, one of Paris' little-known residential districts, is dedicated to the history of magic and cinema. Enormous thought and careful research seems to have gone into each of the hotel's 24 themed rooms, with an emphasis on exploring the art of illusion and lighting, as well as the power of fantasy. In addition to photos and lighting evoking these themes, careful details — from magic hats to playing cards — make a stay in one of the rooms an amusing and interesting experience.
Film fans will likely adore the room consecrated to iconic early French filmmaker Georges Méliès, with its enormous image of the man in the moon framing the room, and inspired by the 1902 film "A Trip to the Moon". Since cinema was founded on the principle of magic and illusion, this seems a fitting tribute indeed.
Other rooms of note at the hotel include one themed on the 12 signs of the zodiac and the divinatory art of astrology; another focused on spiritism and levitation featuring vintage images from esoteric manuals of old, and another decorated in bold red and white on the theme of a magician and his bag of traditional tricks.