Tucked down an alley in the spirited 2nd Arrondissement, Hôtel des Grands Boulevards teams 18th-century Parisian elegance with a touch of avant garde design. Stately Louis XVI furniture nods to the building’s revolution-era roots, including charming canopied beds and tables topped with fiery Rouge Royal marble, a favourite of the Sun King himself. Adding their own spin to the building’s history, the hotel have also staged a revolution of their own, mingling these aristocratic designs with provincial furniture and rustic linens, tipping their hat to the Tricolore-waving masses that reshaped the country. To cap it all, the drinks at the bar come courtesy of the Experimental Cocktail Club, a group of mixologist provocateurs credited with shaking up the city’s cocktail scene.
Get this when you book through us:
Two cocktails at the hotel bar and VIP access to the Paris branch of the Experimental Cocktail Club
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £202.09 (€234), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.88 per person per night on check-out.
Room rates don’t usually include breakfast, a Continental buffet (€22 a person, per day) that includes freshly squeezed juices, pastries, home-made cakes, eggs and more.
Guests can make free VoIP phone calls from their rooms, letting you stay in touch without incurring a fee.
At the hotel
Internal patio with a retractable veranda, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV; Revo radio; minibar with bottled cocktails by Experimental Cocktail Club; tea- and coffee-making facilities; free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
At 32sq m, the Grand Boulevard Junior Suites are on the large side for Parisian hotel rooms. The regally sized suites have a king- or superking-size bed, a living area with mid-century modern furniture, and large tiled bathrooms with sinks for both Mr and Mrs Smith.
Berets, stripes, wide-leg trousers and cropped leather jackets should attract approving nods as you saunter through the city.
All of the public areas are wheelchair accessible, and there are several specially adapted rooms.
All ages are welcome at the hotel, but it’s not particularly geared towards children. Baby cots (free) can be added to certain room types, and some rooms interconnect.
The hotel is actively working towards its Green Key label, encourages guests to support local ecological associations that it has partnered with, and chooses its providers and suppliers according to their sustainable and social commitments. The hotel restaurant uses locally sourced, organic and fair-trade ingredients and the hotel’s green spaces are maintained with natural gardening methods, including composting. Water and energy consumption are monitored, a recycling programme is in place and the cleaning products, light bulbs and bath products at the hotel are also environmentally friendly.
A table on the terrace, from which you can admire the building’s historic details.
It’s Paris – you can’t go wrong with a chic, all-black ensemble.
The Grand Restaurant is at the heart of the hotel, set in and around the courtyard. The indoor section has Gallic charm galore with herringbone parquet flooring, round bistro tables and red banquettes, all of it bathed in the daylight that floods through the 1930s-style windows. The rest of the tables are in the terracotta-tiled courtyard, which has a retractable glass ceiling for warm summer days and balmy nights. The French-Italian menu has been masterminded by Rome-born chef Giovanni Passerini, who’s seen as something of a torchbearer when it comes to fine Italian food in the French capital. Alongside his restaurants, the ascendant chef also owns his own pasta shop, which makes dishes like the linguine with marinated calamari a safe bet. There’s also a selection of dishes for two; for classic French cuisine, try the Mesquer squab served with fennel gratin and pan dripping vinaigrette salad.
Cocktail bar the Shell is exactly what you want from a Parisian cocktail bar: an intimate and ever so slightly louche space with crimson walls, velvet armchairs and a bar that glints with burnished and brushed gold. The menu has been drawn up by the master mixologists at the Experimental Cocktail Club, the bar widely credited with kick-starting the city’s craft cocktail scene. They show no sign of slowing down, either, as the drinks are some of the most finely-tuned in town; try the black pear, a medley of pear-infused Bordeneuve 3-star armagnac, lapsang souchong, muscovado syrup and Peychaud’s bitters.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 10.30am; lunch from noon until 2pm; dinner from 7pm to 10.30pm. The bar opens at 6pm and serves until 2am.
The full menu is available during restaurant hours; a reduced after-hours selection keeps night owls sated.
The hotel is hidden down a passageway on Boulevard Poissonnière, a lively street in the central 2nd Arrondissement.
Flights from all over the world land at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, a major international hub. It takes 45 minutes to drive from there to the hotel.
International services arrive at Gare du Nord, the city’s largest station. From London, you can hop on a Eurostar service at St Pancras International, which will whisk you to the French capital in two-and-a-half hours. Once you’ve arrived, you can reach the hotel by taxi (a 12-minute journey) or the Metro. For the latter, take the M4 line from Gare du Nord to Strasbourg – St-Denis, then change to the M8 towards Balard, jumping off at Grands Boulevards. The hotel is a three-minute walk away.
Driving from the UK is fairly straightforward thanks to the Eurotunnel, but you won’t really need a car once you’re in the city centre, where you’re likely to encounter traffic and a lack of parking spaces. There’s also the Peripherique – the city’s oft-congested ring road – to contend with.
Worth getting out of bed for
The most famous of the city’s sites need no introduction, and are easily reached from the 2nd arrondissement, whether you want to go goat-spotting in the Jardin des Tuileries or wander the bohemian-leaning Left Bank. In terms of the local area, a short walk westwards will bring you to the Place de l'Opéra, where you’ll find the sumptuous Opéra National de Paris, which puts on world-class performances within its cavernous auditorium. It’s well worth a look in even if you don’t plan to buy tickets, as this is Paris at its most splendid. For something a little less high-brow – and if your French is up to the task – you could try Le Comedy Club, just north of the hotel in the 10th arrondissement. The venue attracts many of France’s most famous comics, and the drinks are fairly reasonable to boot. Also within walking distance is the Musée des Arts et Métiers, in which you can spend a few hours marvelling over some of the 2,400 inventions within its collection, among them Foucault's pendulum. The 2nd arrondissement still has a fine collection of covered arcades, too, many of which have glass ceilings and charming period detailing. The Galerie Vivienne and the Passage du Panoramas are particularly noteworthy contenders.
Named after the Greek god of agriculture, stylish and modern Saturne has forged strong relationships with organic farmers and vineyards, prizing the best seasonal ingredients and natural wines. The interior is pared back and contemporary, with an open kitchen adding to the atmosphere. Frenchie is owned by Chef Gregory Marchand, who earned the nickname from Jamie Oliver while working in the kitchen at the latter's london-based restaurant, Fifteen. Clearly, the name stuck, with Marchand moving to Paris in 2009 to open the eponymous eatery. Fittingly, the food is Gallic at heart, but shows all the best influences from his international training. The restaurant also doubles as a wine bar, so you can be sure that the drinking will be every bit as good as the dining. La Bourse et La Vie is owned by American-born chef Daniel Rose, who has taken all he loves about the French bistro scene and distilled it into a single venue. Dine on elevated pot-au-feu dishes, steak frites and crème caramel in a thoroughly Parisian setting.
For brunch, coffee or a pre-theatre cocktail, try Lockwood on Rue d’Aboukir. It might not be the most traditional Parisian café, but the food, friendly service and music have made it a firm local favourite. For something more grand and traditional, head to Café de la Paix, a lavish Parisian institution with gilded ceilings and Napoleon III-style furniture. Its prestige and historical importance puts it on the pricey side, but it's well worth a visit even if you’re just stopping in for a quick café creme.
Don’t miss the chance to visit the Experimental Cocktail Club on Rue Saint-Sauveur, whose team created the hotel’s own drinks list. Widely lauded, the bar is almost always busy, but the drinks more than make up for any jostling.
The first thing that strikes me about Hotel des Grand Boulevards is the sense of calm, a sharp contrast to the bistros and bustle along Boulevard Poissonnière and the spirited 2nd arrondissement outside. Playful ironwork signage spells out the hotel’s name. As first impressions go, it’s a great one.
The hotel is primped and preppy, yet cool: the second Paris-based hotel from the bar-loving bon vivants behind the Experimental Group – Romée de Goriainoff, Pierre-Charles Cros and Olivier Bon. The trio of school friends have earned themselves a name for desirable drinking dens, such as the Experimental Cocktail Club in London’s Chinatown. But the portfolio now stretches from New York and Ibiza, with hotels such as the Henrietta and the Grand Pigalle Hotel, joining the fold. At Hotel des Grand Boulevards, the look is at times grungy; at others luxe, creating an accessible hotel that’s easy to love.
After check-in, we hop into the mirror-flanked lifts and make a beeline for our room: number 101. Inside, a macaron-hued palette of blue, pink and green unfolds to rival the saccharine delights of Ladurée’s counters. We're in one of the Uzes suites, which like all the rooms, serves up a modern take on Louis XVI-style pomp: canopied beds, scalloped curtains, arched doors and more.
Styled by French interior designed Dorothée Meilichzon, the look is aristocratic yet understated. Golden fittings abound: from the cheerful bumble bee door knockers to the dimmer switches and fishhook-style ties that pin back the draped canopy over the bed.
And what a bed: a modernised Louis XIV, with a velvet headboard and contrasting inky-shaded canopy, which makes for a sumptuous slumber spot. Rustic details, such as wooden side tables, offset the look. A mirror which doubles as a TV, adds a high-tech touch.
Uzes rooms come with a balcony, impressive twin-sink bathroom, a stash of organic miniatures and a mini bar stocked with a cocktail collection by the Experimental Cocktail Club, naturally.
Each night, petit fours are placed pillow-side, and in the morning, Mr Smith and I make a habit of ordering breakfast in bed on a silver tray – an inspired decision which we turn into a daily ritual. The same spread is served downstairs, but the experience (and taste) doesn’t quite compete with the indulgent bed-bound setup.
However, we are in Paris, and even here, one must occasionally leave the bedroom. Happily, the hotel is within easy walking distance to the highlights of the Rive Droite. Pigalle is a quick 15 minutes’ stroll away – an area increasingly mentioned by those in the know – and Rue Montmartre takes you south via a pleasant walk towards the Seine. After a day out exploring, it’s back home, which by this stage is how Hotel des Grands Boulevard feels: like home (if home were packed full of fanciful design).
For dinner, we head to the Grand Restaurant. Set at the heart of the hotel, beneath a retractable glass roof, this is a space for all seasons. Round and oblong tables rub shoulders, plants fill every space and greenery-draped pergolas create a relaxed space that blurs the lines between inside and out.
Though the food erred on the less flavoursome side at times, the Shell cocktail bar is the mold from which all Parisian drinking dens should be cast. Inspired by Marie Antoinette’s love of sea shells, access to the room is preceded by a stuccoed shell, a few feet from the entrance. We make straight for the brassy-hued bar, adorned overhead with glowing sconces, which expel a moody light and reinforce the sultriness of the red-velvet furnishings. Open until 2am, we settle in to imbibe the abundant cocktail menu, created by the master mixologists behind the Experimental Cocktail Club.
Next morning, as penance for our partying, I head up to the roof for a yoga class. Even though I’m sans kit, I request some from reception with little fuss (thankfully, for my head). It’s this kind of old-school hospitality, mixed with nouveau design and modern luxury, that makes Hotel des Grands Boulevards such a memorable experience.