Paris is having a huge year for hotel openings. Two Martin Brudnizki–designed hotels — the celebrated Swedish designer’s first two projects in Paris — are slated to open in 2023. Luxury favourites like Rosewood’s Hôtel de Crillon in the eighth arrondissement and Relais & Châteaux’s Saint James Paris in the 16th. recently got upgrades including a new restaurant for the former and an interior renovation and expanded spa for the latter. And, of course, this flurry of openings and makeovers is largely in service of the 2024 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Paris.
But the very first opening of the year, kicking off the City of Light’s 2023 hospitality frenzy, is also one of the most exciting: Hôtel Dame Des Arts opened on February 1 on Paris’s Left Bank in the sixth arrondissement.
Here’s a look inside the property
Hôtel Dame Des Arts, part of EQ Group’s portfolio of 18 properties across Europe, is not trying to be the most luxurious stay in Paris; it’s trying to offer an experience rooted in Paris’s local (as in, less touristy) culture. In the heart of Paris’s Latin Quarter, it’s exactly 17 steps from the St. Michel metro stop, and an additional 20 to the Seine River and views of Notre-Dame cathedral. In a city where a hotel’s location typically either capitalizes on convenience to main attractions or proximity to the coolest wine bars and trendiest hangouts, Hôtel Dames Des Arts does both.
“What I want this to become is an artist and cultural hub for Paris,” Imshan Jamal, co-owner of EQ Group, tells me over a round of Negronis in the moody hotel lobby. We’re seated with one of my close friends on an enormous beige banquette, and all I can smell is the hotel’s tantalising signature fragrance, a blend of cedar, dry woods, and musk, designed by famed parfumeur Arthur Dupuy.
Only three weeks into the hotel’s life, that ethos is taking shape. Both nights we dined in the hotel’s restaurant, surrounded by pieces of art and literature sourced in Paris, “all of which are reflective of the vivid history of the rive gauche,” Jamal says. (My favourite pieces were framed covers of books by Blaise Cendrars, a pal of rive gauche residents Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso, published by the progressive French publishing house Les Écrivains Réunis).
Musicians like electric guitar player Max Sokolinski and DJ Gini from Syck Talent set the backdrop for our meals; their modern psychedelia offering a vibey underlay without drowning out the conversation.
“I sat at every table in the restaurant to make sure I could still hear the person across from me with the live music playing,” Jamal tells me.
These are the types of musicians who will play on the hotel’s ninth-floor rooftop — which has incredible views of the Eiffel Tower on one side and Notre Dame on the other — once spring and summer hits. Paris is a famously low city (read: not a whole lot of skyscrapers), so the rare ninth-floor rooftop gazes over the Haussman buildings, offering unobstructed landmark views from one of the highest open-air bars in the city.
Much like in New York, any generous outdoor space is quite the hospitality flex in Paris — and the rooftop isn’t the only bragging right at Dame des Arts. A stunning outdoor terrace, off the dining room, lined with palm trees (yes, palm trees in Paris), completes the alfresco package. As Jamal puts it, the “panoramic rooftop terrace overlooking all the major monuments, ground-floor garden, and wall-to-wall guest room windows unite the indoors and outdoors as one experience, seamlessly throughout the hotel.”
The bar, in addition to serving up French wines (I was partial to Provence-sourced Super Schluck vin d’orange), has an impressive selection of mezcals and tequilas to match the restaurant’s Mexican-inspired menu. (Mexican food? In France?, was my first thought, but the goal is to attract locals and offer something different from the bistro’d, bechamel-covered Parisian fare.)
And I have to say, as someone from Los Angeles, a city known for its Mexican food, I was pleased with head chef Othoniel Alvarez’s mushroom mole, tuna tostada topped with flash-fried leeks, and churros served with a Paris-Brest-inspired praline dipping sauce. It helps that Alvarez grew up in Tenancingo, a Mexican state south of Mexico City. And in contrast to the dinner fare, breakfast is still distinctly French, with croissants and pain au chocolats biked across the river from Liberté boulangerie.
Visitors should know that entry-level rooms, which start at EUR 280 (INR 24,207 approx), are certainly cosy, at 15 square meters (161 square feet). They are, however, extremely functional, outfitted with a desk, a queen-size bed, a wardrobe, a Nespresso machine with Paris-roasted Lomi coffee pods, and a shower with Diptyque toiletries. Of the 109 rooms, 17 have gorgeous (and generously sized, especially by Paris standards) balconies with Eiffel Tower views. More than half of the rooms at the hotel are “signature suites,” which are slightly larger at 200 square feet.
The Raphael Navot–designed interiors pair natural materials — light chestnut ridged panelling in the hotel rooms, and rich black floors in the lobby made of burnt-then-laminated wood — with velour-swathed furnishings. The furniture is sourced from all over the world, Jamal confirms, but his favourite pieces are the Roche Bobois ones designed specifically for Raphael Navot, including the oblong Moon Couch in the lobby (which retails for USD 40,000 or INR 32,81,840 to the public).
“Our hotels are somewhere in the middle of being effortlessly elegant and a place where guests feel that they are mingling with the local early adopters,” Jamal says, “[with] the warmth and attention to detail you might expect from a more traditional luxury brand [sans] pomp and circumstance.”
Not only is Dame des Arts the first opening in Paris’s Year of Hotels, it’s the first of three EQ Group openings in the City of Light. The hospitality company will open another hotel this summer — the train-inspired Hotel Grand Voyageur in St. Germain des Pres, as well as a hotel just outside the city in Boulogne. Learn more about Hotel Dame des Arts and book your room at damedesarts.com.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com
Main and Feature Image Credit: Ludovic Balay/Courtesy of Hotel Dame Des Arts
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