Luxe et volupte
If you strolling along the Left Bank close to SaintGermaine-des-Prés in search of a chic and intimate hotel, then look no further. Relais Christine
(www.relais-christine.com) has been family owned since it originally opened and it shows in its style and approach. It is welcoming, and yet discrete, with lots of cubby holes and understated charm. It has a fantastic history - in the early 13th-century it was the site of Saint-Denis College of the Grands-Augustins Abbey. It seeks to evoke a homely environment and there is also a wonderful serenity that you sense perhaps comes from its origins. Those in search of something different, and we mean different, should seek out Maison Souquet (www. maisonsouquet.com) Its location in the Montmartre gives the game away, as do the two red lanterns inviting you in, and the hotel does appear to be somewhat of a temple to hedonism.
The hotel is nothing if not direct in its messaging and in promoting its history (the site was a former ‘house of pleasure’ as the hotel’s website euphemistically describes it). However, its approach and style is typically and unashamedly Parisian. The sumptuousness of the furnishings, and the luxury of the rooms and the spa (which even guests need to specifically request the key for) transport you into another world and highlight just how evocative and inspiring is the work of the renowned French interior designer, Jacques Garcia. Prepare for plenty of lush velvet, flamboyant wallpapers, dark wood, atmospheric lighting and oil paintings of women in seductive poses.