Upon entering Hôtel Récamier on Paris' Left Bank, it's easy to feel as if you just stumbled into the private apartment of a wealthy archaeologist with a taste for the earthier end of modern design. With its elegant artefacts and art, eco-chic furniture and postcard-perfect views of Place Saint-Sulpice, there’s plenty to appreciate at this six-storey townhouse turned book-now B&B.
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BlackSmith members get free entrance tickets to the Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay. SilverSmith members get half a bottle of champagne; GoldSmith members get a whole bottle
12 noon, but flexible for half a day's rate. Check-in, 2pm (earlier if the room is available).
Double rooms from $188.80 (€173), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.48 per person per night on check-out.
If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.
Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR190.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.
Rates exclude breakfast (€11-€20).
Between 4pm and 6pm, there's afternoon tea in the lounge. Soft drinks and snacks will also be available.
At the hotel
Terrace, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock and bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
Each of the rooms has been decadently dressed with exotic furniture and textured trimmings; all have canopied beds. Room 42 triumphs in size and has a chocolate, cream and beige palette, with a striped canopy over the bed, an ornate gold mirror and tactile wallpaper. We also like Room 64 on the sixth floor, which is smaller, but has a balcony overlooking Parisian rooftops. For family stays, each floor has a pair of rooms that can be connected to form a suite. If you prefer a bath tub to a walk-in shower, book a Classic or Club room.
Sunglasses, scarves and stilettos to keep up with the super chic of Saint-Germain.
In-room beauty treatments and massages can be arranged.
Cots for babies are free; extra beds cost €50 a night. A local nanny can take over for €18 an hour, given half a day’s notice.
Squeeze into the cosy den off the main lounge, and bag one of the brown-velvet sofas or gold-leather armchairs arranged around the fireplace. In summer, step out with your drinks amid the bamboo on the terrace.
Nothing leopard-print: you might clash with the carpet.
There’s no restaurant, but a Continental breakfast is put on in the homey lounge every morning – guests help themselves from the old-fashioned dresser. Between 4pm and 6pm, free soft drinks and snacks are served.
Guests can kick back at the little bar in the breakfast lounge, where a waiter serves drinks in the evenings.
It’s a relaxed affair: breakfast runs from 7.30am till 10.30am or 11am; drinks at the bar are available from early evening until around 10.30pm.
A menu of omelettes, cheese platters and sophisticated main meals – sauté of veal or duo of prawns and scallops – is available until 11pm.
A 20-minute drive away, Paris Orly is the closest airport, with good domestic links to most of France. UK and international flights land at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, a 30-minute drive away. A taxi from Charles de Gaulle international airport to the centre costs about €50; buses and trains run regularly into town at a fraction of the cost.
Montparnasse station, a 20-minute walk away, has connections to cities such as Bordeaux, Toulouse and Rennes (www.uk.voyages-sncf.com). The Eurostar terminal at Gare du Nord is about 20 minutes away by car, or 25 minutes away on the metro. The hotel is well placed on the metro network, with stops on lines 4, 10 and 12 within walking distance.
There’s a public car park on Place Saint-Sulpice, 100m away, if you’ve chanced driving in central Paris. Avis has branches at both the Gare de Lyon (+33 (0)820 61 16 27) and the Gare du Nord (+33 (0)820 61 16 24).
Worth getting out of bed for
Crowded but irresistible, the Eiffel Tower is open 9.30am–11pm (midnight in high season). If all that steel doesn't take your fancy, visit L’Institute du Monde Arabe (www.imarabe.org): as well as an interesting modern façade and Islamic art exhibitions, its top-floor terrace offers great views across the Seine to Notre Dame and Ile de la Cité.
The Louvre (www.louvre.fr) houses some of the world’s most famous art (open late Mondays and Wednesdays; closed Tuesdays and some holidays). The Musée National d’Art Moderne is on level four of the Pompidou Centre (www.centrepompidou.fr); Richard Rogers’ radical architecture is another draw. Musée National Picasso Paris (www.museepicassoparis.fr) occupies an old house in the Marais, and is full of the artworks Pablo couldn’t bear to part with; the venue is as alluring as the art itself, also the case for Musée d’Orsay, a converted train station packed with arty treats (www.musee-orsay.fr).
Follow in the footsteps of Degas, Toulouse Lautrec and Amélie, wandering through Montmartre (the bohemian hill streets that saw the birth of the can-can), and up to the Sacré-Coeur for more resplendent Parisian panoramas.
Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré is chock-full of designer boutiques; our favourite is Colette (www.colette.fr), a celebrated lifestyle shop with fashion, books and a café. There are quirky independent shops, cafés and bars plus cutting-edge fashion in the bohemian Marais district (aka the quartier Juif) – also the only area largely open on Sundays. Porte de Clignancourt market is a fleamarket for clothes and antiques, open Monday–Saturday until 7pm. Or arrange to have a selection of Parisian vintage pieces brought to you by Ooh La La! (ring +33 6 84 76 58 65 ahead of your trip for details). If you’re a sucker for department stores, head to Le Bon Marché on Rue de Sèvres. Splurge with a healthy conscience at Merci (+33 (0)1 42 77 00 33) on Boulevard Beaumarchais. The luxury emporium donates profits from its cut-price Annick Goutal perfumes, Baccarat crystal vases, Stella McCartney and Yves St Laurent glad-rags and hip homeware to a children’s charity in Madagascar.
Live out your Louis XV/Mme de Pompadour/Marie-Antoinette/Sun King fantasies (delete as applicable) at the incomparable Château de Versailles, just outside Paris (www.chateauversailles.fr).
Visitors can now make an excursion to the beach without leaving the city, thanks to the palm-tree-lined white sand of Paris Plage, a summertime addition to the right bank of the Seine (near the Pont Neuf and Hotel de Ville).
Grab a bottle of bubbly from the minibar and some pastries, smoked salmon baguettes or tarts from Gérard Mulot at 76 Rue de Seine (43 26 85 77), and enjoy them in the Jardin de Luxembourg on the Left Bank. Another good green grazing spot is the Jardin de Tuileries near the Louvre: get gourmet snacks at Fauchon or Hédiard on Place de la Madeleine.
Chic St Germain is an edifying place to stroll around, with plenty of shops, cafés and culture to keep you occupied; thanks to its university heritage, the area has historically been the haunt of artists, poets and intellectuals, and there are still plenty of great bookshops and galleries to help kick-start your grey matter.
… getting lost: Parisian delights are more often found off the beaten path: musicians practising in a quiet leafy square; buying a few cartes postales at an independent stationery shop; a perfect café crème on a spring morning; stumbling into a back-street art studio.
The Seine’s open-top Bateaux-Mouches riverboats are a popular way to see the sights; most depart from Pont de l’Alma. Stick to a one-hour trip and give the touristy dinner cruises a miss. Ramp things up a notch on a private picnic cruise down the St Martin canal aboard La Coda, a small Dutch barge; or sweep your Mr or Mrs off their feet and arrange dinner for two on a sleek Yachts de Paris launch (www.yachtsdeparis.fr). US-run Fat Tire Bike Tours will whiz you round the sights on Schwinn bikes, Segways or your own two feet; the night-time tours are fun (1 866 614 6218; www.paris.fattirebiketours.com). Rollerskate through town on a Friday night (or just watch the speed-mad crowd wheel past); the city-of-light express leaves Tour Montparnasse at 10pm and rolls back around 1am (www.pari-roller.com).
Marvel at Paris’ unique layout from atop the 200-year-old Arc de Triomphe, one of France’s most iconic monuments and the epicentre of bravura city-planner Baron Haussmann’s star of boulevards; it’s worth clambering up its many internal stairs to peer down the Champs Elysées and enjoy photogenic views down to Place de la Concorde and up to La Défense. Open daily, 10am–10.30pm (11pm in summer), excluding 1 January, 1 May and 25 December. Tickets cost €8 and must be bought 30 minutes before closing.
Call in at La Société, a glamorous yet relaxed brasserie on Place Saint-Germain, to admire Peter Lindbergh photographs, sculptures and a marble bar. There’s even jazz for your ears (+33 (0)1 53 63 60 60). Good-value bistro La Ferrandaise is known for its well-sourced meats, including the eponymous beef, 8 rue de Vaugirard (+33 (0)1 43 26 36 36). For inventive and inspired South East Asian flavours, try Ze Kitchen Galerie on Rue des Grands Augustins (+33 (0)1 44 32 00 32). La Méditerranée, overlooking the theatre on Place de l’Odéon, serves lipsmacking seafood, including bouillabaisse and monkfish stew (+33 (0)1 43 26 02 30). Bread & Roses, 7 rue Fleurus (+33 (0)1 42 22 06 06), is a rightly famed organic café and purveyor of fine breads, pastries and tarts. Kong on Rue de Pont Neuf is the king of cutting-edge Starck design – Parisian chic with a Tokyo twist (+33 (0)1 40 39 09 00). The ultra-modern glass-bubble restaurant on the second floor is worth visiting for the killer views of the Seine alone. Great for champagne brunches and a buzzing bar scene. Trendy white-tiled bistro ECC Beef Club on Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau is carnivore nirvana –it’s even produced a cookbook(+33 (0)9 54 37 13 65). Their succulent steaks are cooked to perfection with a smoky finish and appealing accompaniments (there are fresh fish specials daily, too). One of the best bars in Paris is conveniently located below deck, modelled on London’s own Experimental Cocktail Club. The Parisian ECC crew shake up cracking cocktails to tingle your tastebuds and while away the hours in this atmospheric speakeasy drinks den.
For inimitable Italian ice-cream, visit Grom on Rue de Seine (+33 (0)1 40 46 92 60).
Paris! City of Light, city of lovers, city of... remarkably well-behaved prepubescent skateboarders? Admittedly, there’s less of a ring to it but, as Mrs Smith and I learn, the best way to locate the slim façade of the Hôtel Récamier, in the southwest corner of tranquil Place Saint-Sulpice, is to look out for the group of skate kids (more Ralph Lauren than Stüssy) politely pulling ollies and kickflips across the road from its front door. In a sense, these gently wheeling garcons summed up the bobo (or, to the Anglophone, bourgeois bohemian) spirit of the 6ème arrondissement.
Once the playground of 20th-century philosophical and artistic rebels, from the Existentialists and the Surrealists to the ‘Lost Generation’ of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Saint-Germain-des-Prés is now firmly established as the home of grown-up Parisian style, while retaining just enough of its former edge to keep things interesting.
Passing through the doors of the 24-room Récamier, designed by French interiors notable Jean-Louis Deniot, we feel less like we’re entering a hotel than the private apartment of a wealthy archaeologist with a taste for the earthier, more textural end of modernist design. In the lobby, black and white chequered marble is offset with warm-toned wooden furniture and fabrics that span the colour spectrum from espresso to macchiato. On a side table, a cast of a bronze West African Ife portrait bust stands, its gaze directing us to the tiny check-in desk across the hall. With decorous efficiency we’re escorted past a twisting staircase to the lift, which we take straight to the top of the supermodel-slender building. Six storeys up and we find ourselves in a perfect lovers’ haven. While the city goes about its business below, our garret hideaway is untroubled by so much as a dove cooing.
Room 64 is peaceful, full of bright springtime sunlight, snug and well equipped for a city retreat. There’s a private terrace from which to look out over the crooked Parisian rooftops, and a fridge full of eminently gluggable wine to celebrate our arrival. The decor continues the safari-meets-1950s-ethnography-museum vibe, with hessian-effect wallpaper and a tent-like canvas canopy sheltering the bed. Relaxing on its great drift of plump cushions and pillows a little later on, we really do feel like the rest of civilisation is far, far away.
Having negotiated the numerous taps that control the twin showerheads, Mrs Smith emerges from the bathroom – which, in contrast to our boudoir, turns out to be all black slate and polished white simplicity – to pass judgement on the range of toiletries. ‘Fragonard – herby, fresh, mmm. Very nice. Do we have to go out?’ I’m experimenting with the entertainment centre (flatscreen TV, iPod dock) and stumble on a Gallic radio station that seems to play nothing but Bryan Adams and Sting. Even the French, it seems, have their style lapses every now and then.
Time to hit the streets. One of the great advantages of Hôtel Récamier is that we find we don’t have to wander very far from its doors to experience the mixture of history and contemporary refinement that make Paris unique. Dominating the square outside the front door is the Eglise Saint-Sulpice. Dating back to the 13th century, this atmospheric church features in The Da Vinci Code – but we don’t let that put us off. Much more significantly, it’s home to some seriously sensuous murals by the Romantic painter Delacroix, and was the place where the Marquis de Sade was baptised, not that it exactly set history’s most celebrated libertine on the straight-and-narrow path. Mrs Smith and I leave the church with far-from-heavenly things on our minds.
As I’m to learn on the short shopping spree upon which Mrs Smith embarks nimbly the following day, flanking the square and the surrounding streets are some of the fashion capital’s most chic shops, including a clutch of sophisticated younger French labels such as APC, Vanessa Bruno, Sonia Rykiel and Paul & Joe. For now though we wander through the streets to the local organic café/deli, Bread & Roses, where we eagerly scoff millefeuille knocked back with café crème. A stroll through the Jardin du Luxembourg and back to the hotel brings us to nightfall, dinner at nearby bistro La Ferrandaise (inventive takes on provincial French classics and delicious Côtes du Rhônes), then drinks in a hip dive bar favoured by art-student locals. Mrs Smith’s theory that its jukebox contains ‘(Everything I Do) I Do it For You’ remains, however, sadly unconfirmed.
The following morning we wake to breakfast in bed. The previous night we’d eagerly ticked boxes on the promising menu and are now confronted with a feast of fresh fruit, poached eggs, croissants, bread, yoghurt, freshly squeezed juice, coffee and an impressive cheeseboard. For those who like more company there is a breakfast room and courtyard downstairs. Here, the rustic feel is contrasted by quirky, glittering details: a driftwood sculpture sits on a golden tabletop, and lamps are supported by gilded birds’ legs. There’s a bookcase full of tomes on contemporary photography, a clutch of board games and a small array of art photos on the walls. But it’s not for us – not yet. This is Paris. City of Light. City of lovers. City of lounging in bed long after the rest of the world has greeted the morning sun.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Hôtel Récamier’s Guestbook below.
The fabulous location. The beautiful decor and afternoon tea. The concierge was also quite helpful and nice. My teen son loved this place and they had a very nice rollaway bed that they added to our room. La Palette is very close and an excellent Parisian cafe experience. Favorite unexpected museum was the Museum of evolution/natural history. A must see.
A big hotel. This is a boutique hotel experience.
Stayed on 26 Aug 2016
Quiet location but near central Paris attractions.
Late night excitments
Stayed on 28 Apr 2016
The location, the room with the church view, the bed, and the room itself was comfortable and chic.
A giant room – the room size is generous, but it is not a huge area of free floor space.
Stayed on 4 Feb 2016
Professional, helpful and friendly staff.
Big rooms – it's Paris.
ByY m, BlackSmith
Stayed on 27 Jan 2016
The hotel is a beautiful little gem! Great location in the 6th and Bruno was utterly wonderful - great restaurant and shopping recommendations that really enhanced our visit!
Rooms are small....even the club rooms.
Stayed on 22 Jul 2015
What a beautiful hotel! It's very Parisian and the staff were delightful. We stayed for our honeymoon and could not have been more thrilled with our choice; all the staff spoke English and were very helpful. The room (number 25) was gorgeous too!
Nothing. It was perfect.
Stayed on 20 Dec 2014
Great location in the heart of St Germain and in the corner of a beautiful square. Lovely boutique atmosphere and friendly staff. In particular, we loved the cosy lounge where we could collapse after a day of sightseeing and shopping and a have complimentary tea or a glass of wine before going out for dinner.
The rooms are very small, but to be expected in Paris. The breakfast is quite expensive for what it is. Opt for a larger room if your budget allows.