The capital of France. The City of Love. The home of the Eiffel Tower. Paris has many things going for it and one visit doesn’t feel like enough to discover everything the city has to offer. For my first trip back for many years, I decided to explore different parts of the city with a multi-hotel stay. I’m not usually a fan of hopping from one place to another while away, but this trip might have changed my mind on the subject. Find out where I stayed and some of the truly unique properties I discovered.
Paris is one of the most accessible cities in Europe. I chose the most convenient way to travel there from London and caught an early morning Eurostar train from Kings’ Cross. The journey takes 2hrs 15mins and with an easy check-in process all the hassle of flying is a distant memory. Another benefit is the sustainability of rail travel over planes. The carbon footprint of one flight is on average the same as 13 Eurostar journeys which results in 90% less carbon emissions than flying.
One tip I have picked up over the years when travelling this way is to buy metro tickets on the Eurostar before arriving in France. I got a pack of ten tickets, good for ten journeys on the metro, for €19. This meant that I could quickly get to my first hotel from the International station without worrying about currency conversion or dealing with ticket machines whilst I had my luggage on me.
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Where to stay in Paris
Wanting somewhere central for the first part of my trip, I was booked into The Hôtel Wallace in the 15th arrondissement. This quiet district has a number of quaint shops and bakeries, with the aroma of freshly made bread constantly following me around when walking to the hotel on the morning I arrived. A recent renovation overseen by an interior design partnership with Hauvette & Madani has resulted in a retro-chic look which just feels very Parisien.
The rooms are all very affordable, but for the ultimate stay try to book one of the suites with views of the Eiffel Tower. The Junior Suite also has a large outdoor terrace facing the street opposite as well as a decadent full-size bathtub.
When walking towards the iconic landmark you can take a scenic walk of no more than 20 minutes to get to the base of the tower or head towards Pont de Bir-Hakeim for the best views on this side of town. This bridge is also where Christopher Nolan shot some scenes for 2010’s Inception. As I walked under the bridge I spotted something that looked very familiar at the end of the pathway and as I got to a specific spot it dawned on me. I was suddenly standing outside the garage that featured in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. A tip I picked up from one of the hotel staff was to get a metro pack from here to the hotel as the views from over the bridge are spectacular. They were right!
Orso Hotels have several properties in Paris. The Wallace is one of the more modern hotels in the portfolio, it does have a Swedish bath on one of the shared terraces after all, but I wanted to experience a little of everything on this trip.
I got a metro train towards Montmartre where the famous white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur sits on the eponymous hill. I’ve climbed this summit before, and the views are exceptional but I was heading a little further to Hotel Rochechouart to get a taste of a French classic. One of the great hotels of 1920s Paris, this property has undergone as many changes as the surrounding area itself. It still maintains a classic aura and the open metal lift that operated in the centre of the hotel will remind you of that as it rattle towards the Rooftop.
I wanted to see the city from up here as it would also be the first time I could see Sacré-Cœur from a decent vantage point. When you are at the top of Montmartre you’re actually too close to take in the Basilica itself. On a cloudy evening, just before sunset, the clouds broke for long enough for me to enjoy a drink and take in the spectacular view.
If you come all the way to this spot then make sure you dine here too. Head down to Restaurant Rochechouart which serves classic French dishes in a gorgeous Art Deco setting. The theme is continued into the basement where Mikado Dancing is a seasonal nightclub which has been entertaining visitors for almost a century.
The rest of my time in Paris was spent doing the touristy things we all love doing. I ate well, caught up with friends, shopped beyond my budget and took in the general summer atmosphere including a couple of sunrise walks when the city is arguably at its most serene. Wanting to head home with that sense of peace enhanced, I was excited about my final stay and one of the most intriguing city hotels I had ever heard of.
A night in a cabin in Paris
A few stops on the Metro from The Wallace Hotel is the outwardly unassuming Hôtel Cabane. The surrounding area is a little further from the centre and is far more residential than the other places I had been to so far. The hotel has a light, airy reception area which gives off a Scandinavian vibe. This leads into a small dining area beyond which is a private pathway that heads towards a patio area. This was also the way to my room for the night, and I could already tell that the team behind the reception desk were excited for me to experience it for myself.
The Cabane (cabin) is the timber structure that gives the hotel its name. Made from wood sourced locally in France, the cabin is the only such room in the city and is the most unlikely stay in Paris. There’s an outdoor space which feels utterly removed from the buildings that surround it thanks to high walls and dense foliage. On a sunny day you still get more than enough sunlight to spend your time out here, but the best option is to open the sliding patio doors and let the outside in. Thanks to a large wall mirror that runs from the floor to the ceiling on the opposite side of the cabin, the effect is incredible.
Inside there’s also a shower which has a colour therapy function as well as a rain setting. Its all part of an effort to create a relaxing ambience which is aided by the subtle furnishings and a large bed you will sink into as soon as you lie down for the first time. This was probably the best night’s sleep I’ve had in Paris, and it was hard to get up on time the following morning to catch my train back to London.
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