Dear all, we’re writing to you with most exciting news: Hôtel Madame Rêve has taken residence in La Poste du Louvre – a most opulent address (and former post office) in the first arrondissement, mere steps from the gallery. With the savoir faire of artistic director Laurent Taïeb, this red-letter stay has restored the Second Empire interiors to their former grandeur and added some modern enhancements, including what’s more of a roof forest than garden, with a bar and a 360-degree panorama; retro wood-lined rooms where iconic monuments casually come into view; and a penthouse Japanese restaurant. Collaborations with 70 artists, a secret garden and even a working post office have made it truly one to write home about, and indeed, an absolute dream. We’ll see you there. Bisous, Mr & Mrs Smith.
Get this when you book through us:
A selection of macarons and a bottle of wine, plus a welcome note; suites will be upgraded to a bottle of champagne
82, including 19 suites, all spread over one floor and arranged by street direction to orient you.
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £381.79 (€450), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.75 per person per night on check-in.
Rates don’t usually include the Continental breakfast (€28 a person), but guests get exclusive access to the roof garden until 6pm (when external guests are invited in) and access to the sauna.
Madame makes an impression from the get-go – the discreet entrance door opens onto a lobby resplendent with mosaics, murals and antiques. The glittering mosaic on the floor pays homage to the post office, bearing its opening date of 1888, and the ethereal mural behind the check-in desks is of Madame Rêve herself (a title taken from French singer Alain Bashung’s song of the same name). It’s just a taster of the art throughout, that celebrates women, with self portraits by Ines Longevial and Christine Saffa, and photosets of female-led sports throughout the 20th century.
La Plume restaurant will open on the 25 November 2021, in the meantime, you can dine on fine Med cuisine in the very grand Madame Rêve Café.
At the hotel
Roof terrace and sky garden, spa with sauna, gym, artworks throughout, dining terraces, lounging areas, free WiFi. In rooms: Smart TV, mini fridge, tea- and coffee-making kit, air-conditioning, notecard set. Around a third of the rooms and suites have a balcony or furnished terrace too.
Our favourite rooms
Prior to the conception of the hotel, designer Andrée Putman told founder Laurent Taïeb ‘if life has a colour, it’s golden brown’ (we assume not in a ‘fans of The Stranglers’ sense), so expect much of this warmly gleaming hue throughout. Taïeb worked with around 30 craftsmen to create the luxurious fittings and fixtures and hone the hotel’s multi-era-homaging look, with rich woods and marbles and bronze Bisazza tiles and gold-flecked lights in the bathrooms. We also rather like the telegram-inspired rugs, with a quote from comedian Jean Yanne: ‘I tried to pay your taxes with a smile, but they would only take a cheque’. And, artist Pierre-Stéphane Proust commissioned pieces of postal art from 700 creatives, a collection resulting in envelope portraits, hand-fans adorned with stamps, cartoons and aged missives. Just choose which view you’d like; Parisians tend to go for the quieter sky-garden-facing rooms, but you may want to ogle the Eiffel Tower in the distance or Montmartre’s rooftops à la Ratatouille. The Madame Rêve Suite has perhaps the loveliest sight to wake up to, with Notre Dame front and centre.
One of the more intimate hideaways amid the opulence, the wellbeing space has two treatment rooms, a sauna where you can detox and watch petits dramas unfold on the dining terrace below, and a fitness centre with high-end equipment open from 9am to 8pm. And, on request you can book a private sunrise yoga class on the garden roof deck.
A Mont Blanc fountain pen for jotting a jealousy-making note home on the cards and logo-ed envelopes provided in your room – you can even send it via La Poste on the second floor.
There’s a lift and three of the Suite Garden Views are accessible and have flash fire alarms.
Welcome. The hotel doesn’t do the typically diminutive rooms found in Parisian hotels, with some sleeping up to six. And the concierge can help arrange babysitting.
The hotel is very considerate in its eco-friendly efforts, with a raft of 400 solar panels on the rooftop to supply half the hot water needed and a unique green roof planted with 70 trees and plants galore, plus an interior hanging garden. And they duly recycle and use eco-friendly bath and spa products. They’ve also been extremely sympathetic in preserving the building’s original character, earning them nods from the likes of LEED, BREEAM and Effinergie. A government-mandated architect was put in charge of the revamp, furnishings and original features have been restored where possible and its purpose as a local hub has been retained. The hotel only occupies three floors of the hotel, with the second kept as a working post office – after all, where else would Parisians go to pay their taxes? And further community projects have been commissioned in other areas of the building.
It’s rare that you have exclusive run of a roof garden in Paris, so grab that chance with both hands when it’s open in season. Otherwise, by the windows, in either restaurant.
Never a frown, with golden brown.
There are two, on the bottom and top floors of the historic building. It’s testament to the Second Empire’s unbridled decadence that Madame Rêve Café was once part of a post office – perhaps the world’s grandest. Slender deep-blue columns uphold eight-metre-high ceilings with equally lofty windows, candelabra spread out overhead, walls are richly wood panelled with gold flecks, antique furnishings are mahogany and mustard, and vast curtains swoop around the room with the French panache of a thrown on scarf. It’s quite something to behold, but the alfresco Cour Gutenberg terrace is a sophisticated people-watching spot too. In comparison to the decor, meals are simple and Mediterranean, with chicken supreme with candied-lemon sauce and vegetables from the Riviera, grilled octopus with polenta and olives and paccheri with bottarga, red prawns and lime, plus a dessert list conceived by crown prince of pâtisserie, Pierre Hermé. On the top floor is the more modern La Plume, a Japanese eatery with a setting no less incroyable, with far-reaching city views. Paris is the star here, but the ceiling, with its abstract ribbons of paint running end-to-end is a showstopper too. Dine indoors or take your meal on the seasonal winter-garden terrace where plants run amok and the sun is duly trapped on hot days.
All the hotel’s drinking spaces make for Insta-worthy backdrops, whether you’re propping up the bar on the jungly roof terrace, sipping delicately amid the columns and curtains of the café, or absconding to an intimate banquette behind La Plume’s bar counter. There’s wine, of course, the good stuff, as the French do; and the English mixologist has liquored the competition with his cocktail concoctions. Try the fiery Lady Rose with chilli-infused vodka and rose elixir; the citrusy Chimera with gin, limoncello chartreuse and lime; the Oriental Fragrance with Iranian-black-lemon-infused gin, vermouth, Amaro and bergamot liqueur; or the Black & Wild Old Fashioned with Maker’s Mark bourbon, angostura bitters and sugar.
Breakfast runs from 8am till 11am, and last orders in the Café are 11.30pm, 12.30am on weekends. The lobby bar serves snacks until 2am.
Mais oui, whether you’re too cosy to move come evening, wake up hungry or come in after hours and could devour a club sandwich, the hotel’s got you covered.
Hôtel Madame Rêve is in the first arrondissement on the Rue de Louvre, in its vintage post-office building, within baguette-poking distance of the gallery itself, Tuileries, Centre Pompidou, Bourse de Commerce and the Île de la Cité.
The hotel is a 50-minute drive from both Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports. From the former, you can ride the Metro’s B line all the way from the airport to Châtelet–Les Halles, from which the hotel is a 10-minute walk; from the latter, ride the Orlybus into the city then use the B line to cross the Seine. The hotel can arrange transfers on request: €53 one-way from Charles de Gaulle, and €37 from Orly.
Châtelet–Les Halles is the closest Metro stop and it’s served by so many lines that it resembles a rainbow spaghetti junction on the map. If you’ve ridden in on the Eurostar, the Gare du Nord is a 15-minute taxi ride away, or you can reach the hotel via line number four.
Non. Paris is for amblers as much as it is for lovers. A car will be a hindrance more than a help with Paris’s congested roads, and if you’ve driven in, you’ll need to secure a Crit’Air sticker (buy yours here: www.certificat-air.gouv.fr) to show how eco-friendly your vehicle is (the cleaner it is, the better your parking opportunities). Frankly, we’re too ‘le tired’ to deal with the hassle, but If you must drive, car hire is easily done and there’s underground parking at the hotel (€70 for 24 hours) or charged carparks close by.
Worth getting out of bed for
You only need to head to the roof garden and eye up the view to understand how fabulously central the hotel is. From here you can see how the City of Lights quite literally radiates out from the Arc de Triomphe – after dark the cityscape rivals the sky for sparkle. The major sights crowd around the Madame like worthy suitors: the Louvre, the Tuileries, Centre Pompidou, Palais Garnier, the Île de la Cité, the Left Bank… Anything further out (the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Sacre Coeur are all around an hour’s walk away) can be easily reached via the Metro. As the hotel’s founder says, ‘there’s 1,000 years of history within a 15 minute walk’, including grand-dame galleries and museums. The lavishly domed Bourse de Commerce is just around the corner, worth visiting for the classical mural that rings the ceiling and the modern galleries furnished by works from the Pinault collection. The Musée National Picasso-Paris has an impressive collection of the Spanish artist’s discombobulated masterpieces and works by his contemporaries. While the Musée des Arts et Métiers takes a look at the evolution of Paris’s industrial design – if you appreciate the aesthetic, note the hotel roof, which was removed and replaced with Eiffel-style metalwork to accommodate the roof garden. More modern is 59 Rivoli, which has a face painted on it, so you can’t miss it – within it’s a riot of street art and working studios; and, a little further along the Seine, restaurant Maxim’s has its collection of vintage Art Nouveau pieces on display, many of which feel like they’d be at home in the hotel. Across the water, you’ll find Deyrolle, one of the world’s most famous taxidermy emporiums, with its fantastical winged creatures and huge mounted predators; and the famous Shakespeare & Co bookstore, where you could try your luck at becoming a ‘tumbleweed’ where you stay in a book-surrounded bunk for the night in exchange for two hours of work a day. Bring a Louis Vuitton steamer’s worth of Euros too, because the surroundings are littered with indie boutiques, antique stores and all-you could want department stores, such as La Samaritaine, a wedding cake of a Haussmanian carrying designer labels and other desires. For antiques and curios, skip along the Quai Voltaire, and for an assortment of souvenirs and trinkets, try the decorative covered arcades: Galerie Vivienne and Galerie Colbert. And, for some surprises, if you’re prepared to rummage, Marché aux Puces is at the top end of the city at Porte de Clignancourt, but worth the Metro ride for its fascinating finds.
Ah, Paris, the city of tight waistlines after gorging on cheesy, buttery, meaty meals and a basket load of pastries. In this part of the city, you need only choose a direction before the waft of something enticing or the sight of something wantonly crème-filled lures you in. Au Pied de Cochon, just around the corner, has been running since 1947 and retains its old-school look, with red-and-white plastic chairs lined up out front, and mirrored walls painted with flowers. Its menu follows suit and as the name suggests, it takes a turn for the porky. Try the ribs, Andouillette sausage or charcuterie board – or for the brave, the stuffed trotters, or platter of breaded tail, ear and muzzle. Pharamond is also a blast in the past, with equally intricate decoration, although it has a few more years on the clock, having been founded in 1832. Its menu has resisted editing, so there’s plenty to choose from – try the green crab soup, smoked codfish parmentier and follow with the Normandy cheese board. Also close by is the more modern, Michelin-recognised Kei, where chef Kei Kobayashi creates art in edible form, say a ‘garden’ of leaves and edible flowers with a smoked salmon base tied together with lemon emulsion; or oysters laden with trout roe, crème-fraiche and apple granita. And another much-lauded French-Asian eatery is Yam’Tcha, which serves mash-ups such as comté baos and the Lion’s Head casserole with foie gras.
When the hotel staff go on lunch, they head to Rue Mandar, a street heavy with cafés and laden with choice. Say, Miss Bánh Mi for heaving baguettes, Filakia Petit Café d'Athènes for gyros and small plates, or Sarra Deli for health food that doesn’t feel too healthy.
First, grab a drink on the Madame’s roof terrace – go at sunset hour to see the city transform into its nickname. Then head out for cocktails – first stop, Liquorium, where leopard print carpets, tree-trunk tables, green-leather banquettes, palm-print feature walls and an upside-down garden make for a characterful night out. It’s very much a ‘cocktails as mad science’ sort of place, so expect test tubes, steaming libations, flowers in ice cubes and other unusual garnishes. Close to the hotel is the original Experimental Cocktail Bar – the group might have an empire of hotels and restaurants now, but they stay strong to their roots, shaking up those drinks that shook up Paris’s drinking scene. If you’re looking for a quieter drink – the sort you sip while flipping languidly through a novel – head to laidback Le Fumoir with its Mad Men-esque feel for considered vins or a French 75.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this pimped-out post office a short trot from the Louvre and unpacked their writing set and sent their thank-you notes for a wonderful stay, a full account of their first-class break will be with you. In the meantime, raise your stamps of approval as we take a quick peek inside Hôtel Madame Rêve in central Paris…
Trust the Parisiens to make going to the post office sexy. La Poste du Louvre – an exceedingly grand 19th-century building in Paris’s most star-studded arrondissement – is where the locals have come to pay their taxes, lick stamps seductively and send scandalous missives for over two centuries. And now you can live out your sauciest postman-related fantasies, because visionary hotelier Laurent Taïeb has moved Hôtel Madame Rêve in. This haute stay may embody a Parisian icon, but it’s quite unlike anything we’ve seen in the city before, with its welcome-to-the-jungle roof terrace and interior sky garden, penthouse Japanese restaurant and rooms where you can swing a string of garlic bulbs and not get close to touching the sides. Although you won’t exactly forget where you are – you’re smack dab in the centre here (the Louvre is a friendly neighbour), so most of the rooms have a view of one postcard-perfect sight or another. And they’ve not pushed the envelope too much when it came to remodelling: original furnishings were restored, such as the vintage Henryot & Cie chairs which you might recognise from the Eiffel Tower restaurant; the roof was restructured with Eiffel-style ironwork; the cavernous hall where post office vehicles once came and went has become a gloriously opulent throwback café; and interiors more befitting a palais (the work of around 30 different artisans) in a signature golden-brown hue have been installed. It hasn’t forgotten its roots either, with mail-inspired artworks, rugs that look like vintage telegrams and notecard kits in rooms, and a working post office still on the second floor. You might say, it’s the whole package; so Madame, signed, sealed, delivered, we’re yours.