A little over 10 years ago Nathalie Richard, a soft-spoken, effortlessly chic Frenchwoman with an eye for fashion and art, decided to open her first hotel. She wanted to fill a niche she felt was wide open. “When I go to a hotel, I want to feel that I am truly in the country where I am staying. I think it’s so important when you are in Paris to feel the Parisian ambiance. At the same time we are a family company, so we wanted something small that felt personal; for guests to feel like they were in their own home,” she says as she sips her tea and lemon in the hotel’s lobby bar overlooking the quaint Rue de Marignan in a fashionable neighbourhood in Paris. “We wanted a location that was very central,” she says of her elite address, bordered on one side by Avenue Montaigne (the home of Dior and the Plaza Athénée) and on the other by the Champs-Élysées.
Nathalie enlisted the help of another first-timer in the hotel design realm, Pierre Yovanovitch. The Nice native had an inimitable style, yet one that was both distinctly French and contemporary. When he designed her sister’s home in London Nathalie had been thoroughly impressed. Pierre says, “I always strive to reach two apparently opposite goals at the same time in my designs: luxurious yet simple, strong yet peaceful, minimalist yet warm, eclectic yet clear.”
Under Nathalie’s watchful eye, Pierre deftly wove a tale of contemporary elegance whose protagonists were natural materials and gallery-quality French art and furniture. The occasional cameo from French historical precedents completes the look of the hotel.
An impressive Zimbabwe-stone art deco facade heralded by a pair of wrought iron, gilded gates welcomes guests. Inside, the black and white marble floor and soaring ceilings set the scene with the red Serpent sofa designed by Pierre. Lighting was commissioned by French designer Armelle Benoit. In the adjacent restaurant and bar, cosy, custom-designed dining niches are set entirely in oak and a vibrant colour palette features lemon and olive hues. Built-in furniture was carefully executed by French craftsmen, and decorative lighting commissioned by French lighting designers Bole Design. The restaurant/bar is the nerve centre of the hotel, and the perfect place to spot celebrity guests.
In the hotel’s 50 rooms and suites, natural materials such as warm oak for the walls, sumptuous wool for carpets and luxurious raw silk for drapery envelop guests in a cocoon of comfort. Pops of colour make surprise appearances and every piece of art was selected by Nathalie and Pierre from the many art and antiques galleries of Paris.
There is a plethora of fine hotels across Paris, each with its own promise of uniqueness or period charm. But even the most jaded traveller would be hard-pressed to come across a hotel like this, where prime location, attention to design detail and a trendy, timeless sense of place combine. That, and it offers complimentary breakfast, Wi-Fi and mini-bar drinks!