Le Roch Hotel & Spa is the twinkle in the City of Light’s eye. This boutique hotel brings together the interiors of design oracle Sarah Lavoine and a menu by Michelin-star-awarded chef Arnaud Faye in a classical 19th-century building smack-bang in the bullseye of Paris. This is a prime base for exploring the city, but you can just as easily escape it: the hotel has a library with a roaring fire, a spa by French beauty house Codage, and an indoor pool with a hidden hammam.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Check-in, from 3pm.If arriving early or leaving late, guests are welcome to store luggage and use the pool and spa facilities.
Double rooms from £321.32 (€380), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.30 per person per night on check-out.
Rates do not include the breakfast buffet (€37), but include full access to the pool and spa facilities.
Sarah Lavoine opened her interior design studio in 2002, has since launched a homewares collection, and now has two Parisian boutiques showcasing everything from cushions to crockery. This is the first hotel she’s designed; we eagerly await the next.
At the hotel
Spa and hammam; gym; library and free WiFi throughout the hotel. In rooms: a Marshall Bluetooth sound-system, Samsung tablet, Codage bath products, air-conditioning, minibar and fridge, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
The Deluxe Indulgence room lives up to its billing with a private hammam – the perfect excuse for a steamy night in. All suites are kitted out with hammams, too, but the top pick is on Le Roch’s penthouse level: the Saint Roch suite has a cavernous dressing area, free minibar, its own well-stocked wine bar (mais, oui…) and a room-service-ready terrace. It looks out over the illustrious rooftops of the 1st arrondissement, and on a clear day you can see the bronze Napoleon statue atop its column on Place Vendôme.
Lined with candles and sculpted from black-lava rock, this pool feels far removed from the heart of a bustling metropolis. It’s drenched in natural light, and the teal water is so serene it almost seems a shame to disturb it. The waterfall in the corner isn’t just decorative – it’s the secret entrance to the hammam.
Bespoke Codage products crafted in France are used in a full sweep of beauty and spa treatments, and there’s the option to customise your own. Combine with a steamy hammam session for maximum relaxation, or a work-out in the sophisticated gym.
You may be on a city break, but don’t forget some suitably Parisian swimwear for the pool and spa.
In-room spa treatments are available on request. Two of the Deluxe rooms are adapted for wheelchair-users. There are no stairs on the ground floor and there’s a lift down to the spa and pool.
Babes-in-arms to children of 14 are accepted, but this is more of a grown-up stay. Baby cots can be added to any room, but extra beds can only be added to Prestige rooms and suites (free for under-12s, €100 a night for Smiths 12 and older).
For sun-worshippers and shade-hunters alike, there’s no beating a table on the peaceful courtyard patio.
Make every effort to look effortless.
Natural light floods in to the hotel's restaurant from the courtyard garden, reflecting off the polished green-glass-topped and gold-trimmed tables, adding a silky sheen to the velvet dining chairs. But guests and visitors don’t come just come to admire the Lavoine-styled surroundings: the refined, modern-French menu has been conceived by two-Michelin-star-holding chef Arnaud Faye, and executed by Le Roch’s own Rémy Bererd. Stand-out dishes include the sea-bass sashimi with passionfruit and a hint of truffle; the lamb chop with purple, white and orange carrots; and the white-chocolate pannacotta, which brings matters to a sweet conclusion. The kitchen has a healthy dependence on locally sourced and seasonal produce, and the menu changes every three weeks.
Le Roch's bar is the kind of bar that makes a great first date. Or a second, third, or 267th for that matter… It’s intimate and warmly welcoming (especially when the fire’s burning in deep midwinter), and there’s an ambience-zhuzhing soundtrack compiled by the Maison Sérieuse creative agency. The wine and champagne selection is so extensive it’s been categorised by region. Among the universal classics on the cocktail list, you’ll find a smattering of original creations; a must-try is the signature On the Roch, a zingy mash-up of vodka, rum and herbal Galliano liqueur with lime, mango, cranberry and passionfruit juices. There’s also an honesty bar if you’d rather help yourself, and some light nibbles for snacking.
The breakfast buffet is open for business from 7am to 10.30am. The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday, with lunch from noon to 2pm and dinner from 7.30pm to 10pm; treat-filled tea-time is at 4pm, and the bar hours are 6pm to midnight.
A wide choice of comfort food and fancier fare is available at any hour of the day or night. The menu includes kids' meals and options for various dietary requirements.
If you used a compass to draw a circle around the Louvre, Palais Garnier and Place de la Concorde on a map, Le Roch would be precisely where the spike goes.
The closest airport is Orly, about a 30-minute drive from the city centre. Frequent flights arrive here from within France and abroad, but the largest and most international point of entry is Charles de Gaulle (a journey of 45 minutes to an hour by car). A taxi is around €35 to Orly or €50 to CDG; or ask the hotel to arrange private transfers.
The Pyramides and Tuileries Métro stations are the nearest to the hotel, both within a 10-minute walk. From London, the Eurostar zips to Gare du Nord in just over two hours. Once you arrive, take the Métro or a 15-minute cab ride (ask in advance for a hotel transfer) to Le Roch. The high-speed TGV links Paris to major cities in France and neighbouring countries, too.
Driving yourself in Paris can be stressful with very little va va voom; take a cab or public transport where possible, or make like a flâneur and pound the boulevards. If you’re tied to your own four-wheeler, the hotel offers a valet-parking service on arrival.
Worth getting out of bed for
The spa and pool provide in-house entertainment aplenty, but Paris will be downright offended if you don’t make it out into its streets. After all, you’ve no excuse; Le Roch is surrounded by blockbuster sights and must-do attractions. Turn left out outside the entrance, and at the end of the street are the regal Tuileries Gardens, primed for a promenade with stops at the Musée de l'Orangerie (for Monet's Water Lilies), Jeu de Paume (for postmodern photography) or, of course, the Louvre (for that enigmatic smile and much, much more). Cross the Seine to explore the Beaux Arts station-turned-gallery Musée d’Orsay, head east for a mooch around the perma-cool Marais district, and come evening, get tickets to a warble-fest at the spectacular Palais Garnier opera house. Shoppers, skip between luxury boutiques on Rue Saint-Honoré, jewellery-spot on Place Vendôme, or rifle through antiques in the ornate passages couverts (covered passages). Mosaic-clad Galerie Vivienne is perhaps the city’s prettiest shopping arcade, while Passage Jouffroy has a quirky assortment of bookstores and bric-à-brac-filled curiosity shops.
A few minutes’ walk away on Rue Vivienne, Daroco serves wood-fired pizzas under the soaring mirrored ceiling of the old Jean Paul Gaultier boutique; out the back, Danico bar (6 Rue Vivienne) is a good place to start or finish the night, with an oddball cocktail menu and views of Galerie Vivienne. In the Marais, Grandcoeur is a modern brasserie with a delectable menu of French-ified world cuisine guaranteed to amuse your bouche. Bistro Le Bon Saint Pourçain only has two or three options on the daily-changing menu, but there are no wrong choices. It’s on Rue Servandoni, between the river and the Jardin du Luxembourg – look out for the blue façade and Baumann chairs and tables outside.
For a top tipple in a traditional setting just a couple minutes’ walk from the hotel, try L’Ecluse Saint Honoré. It has more than 40 of the finest wines from Bordeaux, including the pick of the bunch from prestigious châteaux including Pétrus and Lafite Rothschild. Verjus Bar à Vin, near Palais Royal, is a lively, brick-arched bar where Parisians meet to enjoy small plates and large glasses from independent producers.
I have dragged a reluctant Mr Smith all the way to Paris to take advantage of the (hush-hush) Hermès winter sale. When it dawns on him that I’ve tricked him into waiting in line 30 minutes ahead of the official opening time, with an unfulfilled promise of stopping for fresh pastries en route, I can tell by the look on his face that I have some serious making up to do… A half-price tie isn’t going to solve this one – let’s hope my choice of hideaway, boutique stay Le Roch Hotel & Spa, lives up to its billing.
By the afternoon we have swapped the pre-sale panic at the Palais des Congrès for the soothing calm of Le Roch. We have passed under the tiny lights that twinkle above its door, swept aside the thick black curtains that shroud the entrance and stepped inside a dark-walled, oak-floored cocoon. We're only metres from the front door but I am firmly back in Monsieur Smith’s good books.
There is an inviting fire beyond the reception area; on either side bookshelves groan with all manner of beautiful books. We’re early for check-in so at the receptionist’s invitation, we slump on the black-velvet sofa in front of the fire and drop our shopping bags at our feet.
Mr Smith and I, revived by coffee, decide to have a snoop around. We wander up to the main restaurant area where pastel-coloured Pop chairs face off against inky-velvet banquettes. We step through glass doors to the courtyard and our breath starts to mist as we climb to the rooftop terrace. Our first impressions? This hotel is seriously cool and sexy – and we haven’t even seen the bedroom yet.
Ahhh, the bedroom, or rather the indulgence room. Did I mention it comes with a hammam? Beyond the his-and-hers sinks is a glass door leading to a wet room kitted out with a rain shower, bath tub and glossy sage-hued Moroccan tiles. This is the room that moonlights as a hammam. As Mr Smith fiddles with some sleek electronic display in a bid to get the steam to work, I pop the cork on the welcome bottle of Laurent-Perrier and nibble at a welcoming tray of dainty madeleines.
The bedroom interiors are just as chic as those downstairs and all bear the creative fingerprints of Parisian interior designer Sarah Lavoine. From the nesting tables and ceramic teacups in the lounge, to the bedroom’s dusky-pink curtains and patterned carpet, everything is seriously covetable. Mr Smith wants to recreate the look at home and after a quick enquiry, he makes the happy discovery that Sarah has a store on the same street as the hotel.
Le Roch is in the first arrondissement, a bracing wintry stomp away from Parisian landmarks such as the Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries and the Champs Elysées. The area has a good selection of restaurants and bars, but on our first night we are reluctant to stray from the warmth of our hotel, so we opt to eat downstairs.
After a soak in the bath tub and a luxurious steam in the hammam, Mr Smith suggests a pre-dinner apéritif at the bar. Later in the restaurant we munch on heavenly salmon tarama with fluffy fresh blinis and a delicious garlic-fried egg with parsnip honey and lemon. We follow our starters with roasted bream and chestnut gnocchi, and lamb cooked with herbs. Mr Smith doesn’t object to me stealing forkfuls from his plate. The flavours are sublime. No surprises there – the menu has been devised by the Michelin star-awarded chef Arnaud Faye. We end the night with some post-dinner cocktails and leave the hotel revellers to it.
Saturday morning kicks off with our usual, first day of holiday ‘Have we missed breakfast?’ panic, but we discover the restaurant serves until the thoroughly civilised hour of 11am. When we manage to drag ourselves downstairs we are rewarded with a selection of breads, pastries, fruit and one of the best omelettes I’ve ever tasted.
Rue Saint-Roch isn’t far from Givenchy, John Galliano and Jimmy Choo, so after some window shopping and pit stops for macarons (Ladurée and Pierre Hermé, hell yes); we wander off to Angelina on Rue de Rivoli for their famous, steamy, thick hot-chocolate. The afternoon is spent hunting for treasures on the stalls at the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (which translates to ‘flea market’) in the north east of Paris.
That evening the concierge points us in the direction of L’Absinthe, a French brasserie around the corner. We make a quick detour via a bar which has outdoor seating and heating - perfect for people watching. There’s a hip young crowd spilling out of the cafés nearby. Then on to L’Absinthe where the food is tasty but by the end of the meal we're still reminiscing over the fare at Le Roch.
On Sunday morning Mr Smith swans off in his dressing gown and slippers for a massage while I make a beeline for the bijou swimming pool and put in a pathetic attempt at undoing the damage caused by yesterday’s excesses. Then, all too soon, it's 2pm. Curses. Time to take our leave of Le Roch and it’s five-star sophistication.