The dilemma: You’re planning a getaway to the city of light, but the Hotel Costes is eternally booked and Le Crillon is dazzling but slightly stuffy. The solution: two Left Bank hotels that are the antidote to the standard too-la-la Parisian luxury fare.
Tucked into two corners of the celebrated St Germain quarter, the Hotel Bel Ami and the Hotel Montalembert are within walking distance of such essential points of interest as the literary cafes of the Latin Quarter, the galleries and designer shops near Boulevard St Germain, and the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay.
You may hear a lot of English spoken in the lobbies, but it is because these boutique gems are popular with Americans that they boast friendly staffs and – pas possible! – such elusive amenities as 24-hour room service.
With its minimalist design and relaxed attitude, the Hotel Bel Ami is a study in modern luxury. The interactive lobby rolls out the welcome mat with comfy couches, shelves of well-loved books, two slick computer workstations and an adjacent espresso bar.
Downstairs in the breakfast room Cafe, guests can join a sunny congregation of hip, young cosmopolites and enjoy a sumptuous, decidedly un-continental breakfast buffet. Rooms are generous by Parisian standards, decorated in soothing, saturated colors. All part of the Bel Ami’s implicit invitation to take off your shoes and stay awhile.
The Hotel Montalembert has long been the darling of interior designers and fashion editors. Recently refurbished mostly mod, it happily retains many details revealing its rich history as a retreat for writers and artists. Take a ride up in the original 1926 iron Rococo-style elevator, but send your luggage up with the bellman, because it’s built for two! Most guest rooms are equally cozy and utterly charming. And the rich, cocoa-colored marble bathrooms are oases of design perfection.
The Montalembert’s new Bar and Grill, with a fresh and healthy take on gourmet fusion, is a destination restaurant scene for locals and visitors alike – with a private salon for those who want to see without being seen.