Hotels of the month

In Saint-Germain-des-Prés, The Hôtel of your dreams

On Rue des Beaux-Arts, in the heart of chic, arty Saint-Germain-des-Prés, lies an address as secret as it is intimate. With its luxurious rooms, gourmet restaurant, elegant bar and attentive service, L’Hôtel is one of the capital’s finest establishments.

Mention Parisian luxury hotels and immediately images of the great traditional palaces of the Right Bank will flash into your interlocutor’s eyes. The Ritz, the Meurice, the Crillon or the George V, or more recently the Mandarin Oriental or the Shangri-La. Finding a luxury hotel on the other side of the Seine even seems a challenge, as the Lutetia – which has closed its doors for renovation over the next three years – was far from offering the standard expected of a contemporary 5-star.

Yet for decades, an address as discreet as it is exclusive has graced the Left Bank. L’Hôtel – as it’s called – welcomes personalities of the arts, German-Pratin dandies and all those who shun the “bling bling” glitz of the Right Bank.

But to fully understand what LHôtel is all about, we need to go back in time.

L’Hôtel welcomes arts personalities, German-Pratin dandies and all those who shun the “bling bling” glitz of the Right Bank.

From Reine Margot to Grace Kelly and Oscar Wilde

It was on the very spot where Queen Margot came to live out her secret love affairs that the legendary hotel on rue des Beaux-Arts was built during the Restoration.

In 1824, the foundation stones were laid for the present building, which first became a travelers' hotel, Hôtel d'Allemagne, then Hôtel d'Alsace, following the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.

Then a modest establishment on the Left Bank, the Hôtel d'Alsace is famous for having been the last earthly residence of an Oscar Wilde seriously weakened by illness. Although Wilde's famous phrase " I'm dying beyond my means" may have suggested that the poet was living in the lap of luxury, other evidence suggests that the Hôtel d'Alsace was little more than a neighborhood hotel with no particular glamour.

In the weeks before his death, Oscar Wilde was quoted as saying: " My wallpaper and I are in a duel to the death. One or the other of us will have to go". This wallpaper can be seen in the image of Wilde on his deathbed, taken by his friend Maurice Gilbert, and is indeed indicative of the hotel's advanced state of disrepair.

It was November 1900, and the legend was underway.

The decades that followed would consecrate the rue des Beaux-Arts address as the place to be among arts personalities and celebrities. Jean Cocteau, Mistinguett, Ava Gardner, Liza Minelli, Frank Sinatra, Salvador Dali, Grace Kelly, Jorge Louis Borges, Natalie Wood, the list of famous residents of the hotel - which became L'Hôtel in 1963 after it was bought by industrialist Edmond Dreyfus - reads like a Who's who of the 20th century's great artists. The tranquil atmosphere attracted the biggest stars, who were keen to preserve their privacy in a hotel of proverbial discretion.

The most intimate 5-star hotel in Paris

Half a century after the golden age that saw the rue des Beaux-Arts hotel establish itself as the discreet refuge of aesthetes and elegant nomads, L'Hôtel remains more than ever one of the most refined addresses for staying in style in the capital.

Between two art galleries, the entrance to L'Hôtel is almost a secret. There are no valets or hunters here, but a simple silver ram on the door and a plaque stating that Oscar Wilde died here confirm that we've come to the right place.

Once you've crossed the threshold, the magic happens immediately. Time seems to stand still in this historic lobby, brought up to date by Jacques Garcia in the early 2000s. Engravings by Jean Cocteau, Napoleon III sofas, hand-painted frescoes, subdued lighting: you quickly forget the hustle and bustle of the city and let yourself be invaded by a sense of well-being and tranquillity rare in Paris.

A glance at the spectacular spiral staircase - a true architectural signature of the premises - confirms the first impression: L'Hôtel is not a hotel like the others. This feeling is confirmed when you discover the rooms and suites that make up the establishment. With a total of 20 rooms - making L'Hôtel the smallest 5-star hotel in Paris - they are all unique in terms of size, layout and decoration by Jacques Garcia. The French decorator, with his usual sense of theatricality, has imagined a delicate, sophisticated universe for each one.

No need to see more, we're already seduced.

An address for Parisians too

Boutique hotels often lack a restaurant and bar worthy of the name. Not so at L'Hôtel, which has what it takes to attract not only hotel guests, but also a Parisian clientele with an uncompromising taste for good food.

Let's start with the restaurant. Soberly - and quite logically - entitled Le Restaurant, it is the playground of young chef Julien Montbabut, only 29 years old, who has been exercising his talents here since May 2011 and has enabled the establishment to retain its precious Michelin star. It has to be said that the Restaurant has everything it takes to seduce the most demanding of Parisian gourmets. The cuisine, of course, while not claiming to revolutionize the genre, is by turns sophisticated, precise, tasty, delicate and pleasing to the eye. But also the setting. With its private salon feel and glass roof, the restaurant is a cosy setting ideal for a romantic dinner. When the weather's fine, the room opens out to reveal a pocket-sized terrace, as charming as it is unexpected, where you can lunch to the sound of a pretty fountain.

At the bar, you'll find a hushed setting with a timeless atmosphere typical of the world's most elegant hotel bars. Jazz from the 30s in the background, creative cocktails - served at reasonable prices, unlike the palaces - and impeccable service make this one of the Left Bank's best addresses for a nightcap before returning to one's roots. The presence of Johnny Depp, Quentin Tarantino, Monica Bellucci and Annie Leibovitz will come as no surprise to regulars, accustomed as they are to the comings and goings of stars in this confidential, high-profile bar.

L'Hôtel has it all.

You quickly forget the hustle and bustle of the city, and are overwhelmed by a sense of well-being and tranquility that is rare in Paris.

10 reasons to visit L'Hôtel

Whether you're a Parisian or just passing through, there's no shortage of reasons to make a detour to Rue des Beaux-Arts. We've summed them up for you here.

- The rich history of the premises: lovers of hotels steeped in history will be delighted by this hotel, where Oscar Wilde died.

- The rooms: exquisitely redecorated by Jacques Garcia in 2000, they are a model of charm and plush comfort.

- The dreamy Left Bank location, right in the middle of the capital's finest galleries, a stone's throw from Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the banks of the Seine.

- The hushed, confidential bar, simply perfect in its genre. Film and fashion stars love it.

- The swimming pool and hammam in the 18th-century vaulted cellars, reminiscent of Roman baths. Ideal for relaxing at the end of the day in total privacy (the premises can be fully privatized for one hour - free of charge, please - on request)

- The Restaurant: divinely good food, in a setting as chic as it is comfortable, at reasonable prices for a Michelin-starred restaurant (45 euros for lunch), what more could you ask for?

- The Cardinal Suite: this is the hotel's largest and boasts an exceptional terrace overlooking the district's rooftops. A dream come true.

- Green & Spring bath products: natural and handcrafted in the UK, they are the trademark of the English A Curious Group of Hotels, which owns L'Hôtel.

- Affordable prices: in a city where palaces charge four figures for a standard room, L'Hôtel's more reasonable rates are very welcome.

- The service: smiling, efficient, discreet without being aloof, it is of a rare quality for Paris, and richly deserves its 5 stars


The Hotel

From 275 euros per night

13 rue de Beaux-Arts
75006 Paris, France


Receive the best of travel every week
Exceptional hotels, fabulous destinations, exclusive addresses: get inspired all year round with our Newsletter.