The Paris hotel scene is becoming exciting again, and Hotel des Grands Boulevards is the latest addition to the reinvigorated market. Tucked away just off the bustling Boulevard Poissonnière in the 2e arrondissement, it is an ode to the 18th century Paris of the Revolution and Louis XVI in which the building was originally erected, but with a fresh and distinctively modern touch bringing it to life.
The interior, designed by Dorothée Meilichzon, with canopied beds, rouge royal marble table tops and worn wooden furniture, plays around with a combination of 18th century splendour and a more fashionably muted provincial aesthetic. Their visual brand identity, on the other hand, is fresh and light in a way that contrasts with and complements the somewhat opulently classical interior design.
It is the third hotel offering from the Experimental Group, after Grand Pigalle Hotel (also in the French capital) and The Henrietta Hotel, in London. The group’s first venture, however, was the Experimental Cocktail Club, a bar widely credited with kick-starting Paris’s craft cocktail scene, and they have since opened bars in London, Ibiza and New York. The Grands Boulevards’s own intimate cocktail bar, The Shell, is equally on point and plays a large role in the Hotel’s attraction – not just to the visiting tourists, but to the Parisian locals too.
Another big draw bringing in the locals is the Grand Restaurant, with its retractable glass ceiling in the courtyard and menu masterminded by the acclaimed chef Giovanni Passerini, to some a torchbearer of Franco-Italian gastronomy in Paris. The move to place the bar and restaurant in the spotlight is brave in the Parisian market, where hotels so often opt for nothing more than a small breakfast room tucked away in the basement.
The team behind the hotel have managed to utilise 18th century splendour and nostalgia in a way that is nevertheless trendy and fresh. Despite the history behind the building, however, there seems to be a missing piece to the story behind the brand. The focus is purely on the hotel as a product, rather than on perhaps the story of the neighborhood, the lifestyle of their customers, or even the vision of the owners. Whether this will change as the hotel matures we will see, but it is hard not to feel that it is a missed opportunity to inspire potential clients.
Nonetheless, Hotel Grands Boulevards is an exciting addition to a scene which itself is beginning to flourish again. And it sets a benchmark as a Parisian hotel willing to take a dare and place central focus on food and drink in a market that so often shies away from such challenges to tradition.
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Picture credit: ©Hotel des Grands Boulevards