March 31, 2012 at 9:52 AM ET
The ideal Parisian hotel is like a macaron — small, colorful, and bursting with individual flavor. But in reality, too many boutique properties here miss the mark.
Travel+Leisure sent reporters across the city — testing mattresses, climbing staircases, sampling petits déjeuners — to come up with this list of intimate bolt-holes, in styles from traditional (a Neoclassical retreat near the Panthéon) to contemporary (an art-filled hangout by the Louvre). The sweetest part: all have rates starting under $250 a night.
Right Bank, First Arr.: Le Crayon
Just four blocks north of the Louvre, the Crayon, as its name suggests, is all about a bright, “handmade” hotel experience, as though guests were staying in the residence of a local artist — namely that of its decorator, Julie Gauthron. A poetic, patchwork approach to prints and styles results in a good-humored mash-up: the 26 rooms feature offbeat geometric mirrors, Panton chairs and spruced-up flea-market finds (articulated lamps, marble-topped nightstands). The basement breakfast room was a work in progress when we were there, but you can opt for croissants and coffee in bed or in the lobby. 25 Rue du Bouloi; 33-1/42-36-54-19; hotelcrayon.com; doubles from $150. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli
Right Bank, Fourth Arr.: Hôtel Saint-Louis en l’Isle
The Île St.-Louis is picture-book Paris, its narrow, cobblestoned streets lined with cafés, boulangeries and the original Berthillon ice cream shop. The Hôtel Saint-Louis en l’Isle, 20 rooms in a handsomely renovated 19th-century building, sustains the sense of well-polished nostalgia. A twist of your fleur-de-lis-shaped room key reveals stone floors, tufted velvet headboards and custom bathroom fixtures. Other thoughtful details — such as the loaner iPads with weather, currency and translation apps — belie the reasonable price. So does the central location: the Latin Quarter, the Marais, and the tangle of flying buttresses at the rear of Notre Dame are all just a bridge span away. 75 Rue St.-Louis en l’Île; 33-1/46-34-04-80; saintlouisenlisle.com; doubles from $225. Métro: Pont-Marie; Cité
Right Bank, Eighth Arr.: Hôtel d’Albion
The Rue de Penthièvre is unexpectedly quiet for being just a few blocks from both the Champs-Élysées and President Sarkozy’s official pad on the Rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré. Another surprise: how smartly some brightly patterned wallpaper and plush-looking bedspreads can perk up humdrum furniture and basic baths. One of several properties on the street, it’s by far the best value: the 26 rooms, though small, feel up-to-date and chic, aided by exposed beams (on the fifth floor) and wall-to-wall carpet that’s actually nice. A breakfast garden is filled with potted plants, marigolds and a chestnut tree. The quirky proprietors may seem gruff to guests not accustomed to Parisian manners, but give them a smile and they become pussycats. 15 Rue de Penthièvre; 33-1/42-65-84-15; hotelalbion.net; doubles from $155. Métro: Miromésnil
Right Bank, Ninth Arr.: Grand Hôtel de Turin
Though the hotel has been open nearly half a century, its 51 rooms are IKEA-upbeat and regularly renovated, the latest handful about a year ago. Friendly and capable hotel staff can be counted on to steer you through the restaurant-rich neighborhood, a few blocks downhill from Montmartre. The modern sensibility carries through to the lobby and its poppy vinyl furniture. With seasonal and Web offers, a night here can cost as little as $85 — making it easier to forgive the lack of AC. 6 Rue Victor Massé; 33-1/48-78-45-26; hoteldeturin.com; doubles from $140. Métro: Pigalle
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