Mooching around the French capital during Paris Fashion Week meant I was definitely in need of somewhere to retreat and relax. Thank goodness gracious me for this super-cute little road in the Ninth Arrondissement where the glorious, white, shining Hotel de Nell stands. I bipped out of the taxi and a very cool guy appeared immediately to help with my luggage. Sweet. I glided in past the 19th-century exterior into the lobby area where a suited and booted pair sat behind big black glossy computers with very big smiles. Even checking in at hotelier Lisa Konckier-Abrat’s abode feels fun. Edgy art and fashion books were stacked behind reception, right up to the ceiling, giving an instant hit of culture – high five to that.
While completing the check-in process, I scanned the space and all its clean lines, and custom-made furniture. My hands, meanwhile, crept towards a giant glass bowl filled with colourful bright shiny sweets. As I popped another À la Mère de Famille bonbon in my mouth, the lovely lady showed me around the bar and breakfast area. Oh-so snazzy, HdN’s modern decor has fancy lighting and candles and more books on the dining tables. Yar!
My smiley host walked me into the lift where she took me to the fifth floor. The corridor lighting made those grey walls look sexy, and as we walked through, this model and fashion blogger decided it was their kind of catwalk. Opening the door to my room and the words ‘how dreamy?’ whizzed through my mind. Designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte’s mostly white-on-white rooms provide sleek serenity in the city. I was blown away by the beautiful natural light, charming big doors and floor-to-ceiling white linen curtains. My Hotel du Nell host showed me around and revealed all the hotel usuals, but then to my surprise she opened a door in one of the windows and welcomed me onto the balcony… Ooh la la-a-a. Well hello, balcony. What an enchanting Parisian view over those romantic mansard roofs and all that elegant French architecture, the smell of just-baked pastries hanging in the air – it gave me a feeling of, well, je ne sais quo, that you just cannot beat.
Mooching around the room I inspected all the gadgets; Artemide lamps in the headboards! Bluetooth speakers! First things first though: the rating of the bed. In every hotel room I like to give an official score. To do this, you must jump onto the mattress and judge how comfortable the landing is, and then mark it out of 10. And, you know what? The extreme softness of the pillows and springiness of the Egyptian-cotton-clad mattress meant that my bed at Hotel de Nell scored a whopping 10 out of 10. What a relief, and a tremendous start to my hotel-reviewing duties.
With a hungry belly, I chose the piece-of-cake option for lunch: room service. Not literally a piece of cake; I was in the mood for a good old club sandwich. Glancing the chic grey-paper menu written in a classy French typeface, I dialled those digits and made my order. There I was tip-tapping away on my laptop, and in no time at all there was a knock on the door to announce a delightful tray of four large pâté sandwiches, dainty frites and salad. The pleasant lady explained that this was the French take on club sandwich. A large brown bread pâté sandwich wasn’t quite what I had expected… but it was definitely very French.
Having bip-bopped my way around Paris Fashion Week – bonjour Comme des Garçons! Bonjour Karl Lagerfeld! – and zooming around the city taking in some incredible too-cool-for-school creations, I needed to chill out and recharge. The perfect break? A bath ici! Mais oui, mes amis. The soaking tub in my Japanese-style ensuite was a big deal. Oh hello, marble cuboid creation with a myrtle-wood chair inside. Mooching on this seat in this interesting bath was certainly a new experience; I reckon I’d like one of these in years to come. Sat up straight, I relaxed and enjoyed the hot water pouring in from a water fountain-style tap. Très cool.
This district is packed with bars and restaurants, but downstairs is one of the best rendezvous. La Régalade Conservatoire is invariably full (of locals, as well as hotel guests), which isn’t surprising once you’ve met the charming waiters and tasted the excellent seasonal food. Chef Bruno Doucet, the renowned ‘master bistronomist’, serves up simple dishes of in-season ingredients, expertly creating deliciously balanced meals. Dinnertime in the dark, cosy chequerboard-floored eatery started, of course, with a very large pot of pâté and a small mountain of pickles. My friend and I looked at each and laughed, having already experienced an extra-large serving of pâté and pickles care of room service. Well, when in Paris... And it didn’t stop at this: the rich meaty terrine was followed by an exceptionally delicious and filling three-course prix-fixe meal of bistro classics.
On the last night of my stay, knowing that I had to leave early in the morning, I was actually a little sad. I was so comfortable and at home mooching about at Hotel de Nell, I’ll be sure to check myself in here on the Right Bank, next time I visit. If you could magically move into a perfectly Parisian dream life, this is it: spping wine on your balcony watching the sunset reflected in the puddles on the street below, with the tiled dome of the former Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris gleaming imperiously above? Yar!