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A Literature Lover’s Guide to Parisian Boutique Hotels

by CB Cowling

posted on April 22, 2019

Photo Courtesy: Hotel Monte Cristo

For those who dream of hobnobbing with their literary heroes, Paris is the place to be. To walk its streets is to step back in time, to the alleys where flaneurs wandered, cafes where philosophers argued, and bars where novelists passed the time awaiting inspiration. Accomodations with vague literary associations abound (it seems every other room in the city has laid claim to hosting Hemingway for a night or two) but there’s also a small group of boutique hotels that take their history further, elevating their connection to the written word with luxurious interiors that brim with character and celebrate Paris’ storied past. Our favorites embrace their passionate love of literature in myriad ways: with decor straight out of swashbuckling novels, floors devoted to beloved authors, and shades of a bohemian past updated for a 21st-century clientele.

Related: Paris is Always a Good Idea: 6 Great Reads Set in the City of Light

Photo Courtesy: L'Hotel

At just 20 bedrooms, this Parisian institution on the Rue de Beaux Arts is one of the smallest five-star hotels in the city, but its history and intrigue are outsized. Since welcoming its first guests in the early 1800s, L’ Hotel has seen a revolving cast of Parisian eccentrics, artists, and libertines, including Oscar Wilde, whose unpaid bill still has pride of place amongst the decor. Today the interiors are an opulent jewel box of texture and pattern, with an iconic animal-print spiral staircase winding through its heart. A candlelit hammam-inspired pool and steam room beckon from the stone vaults below stairs, while the plushly-baroque bar, once a haunt of Borges and Dali, still draws a glittering crowd.

Photo Courtesy: hoteldaubusson

Set on a quiet side street in Saint Germain des Pres, and decorated with heavy tapestries and massive stone fireplaces, this 17th-century mansion feels more like a country estate than a hotel in urban Paris. Over the centuries, Hôtel d’Aubusson’s famous downstairs bar has attracted luminaries and creatives; Voltaire and Rousseau sat at the same tables that Sartre and Camus frequented 200 years later, and de Beauvoir called the upper stories home in the 1940s. Today the interiors are exquisitely updated without losing an ounce of their character, and its grand surroundings and luxurious interiors are juxtaposed with a relaxed feel that’s a welcome respite from the bustle of city life outside.

Photo Courtesy: paris boutik

This character-rich gem might pass as a neighborhood shop to passersby, but step inside and you’ll find a bibliophile’s dream pad. Tucked down one of the Marais’ historic cobbled streets, Paris Boutik La Librairie sets an impeccably-designed apartment into the heart of a former bookshop, complete with 4,500 tomes lining the walls as both accent pieces and perks (guests are encouraged to take or leave a favorite title). Original stonework and exposed beams add to the authentic, cozy feel, while a well-stocked kitchenette means you can make good use of the neighboring Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris’ oldest and grandest food market.

Photo Courtesy: Le Pavillon des Lettres

Understated and sleek, Les Pavillion des Lettres is inspired by the written word, with each of its 26 rooms devoted to a letter of the alphabet and an author, from Baudelaire to Zola. Decor is calm and cool in shades of cream and dove grey, with subtle touches that play off the theme: passages and quotes are etched and stencilled into walls and glasswork. Rooms on the higher floors offer cinematic views of the Eiffel Tower, and the Champs Elysee is a ten minute stroll away, with bikes available for exploring the wide avenues of the 8th. Should you feel like staying in with a good book instead, you’re in luck — at check-in guests fill in a questionnaire of their literary tastes, and novels are delivered like room service.

Photo Courtesy: hotel monte cristo

Inspired by far-flung adventure and exotic locales, Hotel Monte Cristo is a love letter to the works of Alexander Dumas. Fittingly set just steps from the Rue Mouffetard, one of Paris’ oldest and most colorful streets, the hotel draws inspiration from both Dumas and his eponymous hero. Interiors are an ode to the golden age of 19th century travel; velvet and rattan textures blend with taxidermied tropical birds and curiosity cabinets. Smaller boudoir rooms are the more economical option but also the most unique, with bespoke murals, plush oriental carpets, and glossy brass-fitted bathrooms. A stylish underground plunge pool conjures distant shores with its leafy palm fronds and Moorish tiles, while the downstairs rum bar offers a nod to Dumas’ Caribbean heritage.

Photo Courtesy: dames du pantheon

The Pantheon pays tribute to luminaries of Parisian history, but very few women are amongst the honored. Set opposite this famous landmark, the Hôtel les Dames Du Pantheon uses that imbalance as an inspiration for its elegant and atmospheric boutique hotel. With sweeping views across the Place du Pantheon and a five minute walk to the Jardins de Luxembourg, each of the hotel’s five floors pays homage to the female writers and artists left out of its neighbor’s hallowed halls. George Sands is decorated in a 19th-century style that blends touches of the masculine and feminine, Juliette Greco basks in swanky Art Deco chic, and Marguerite Duras blends deep reds with patterned chinoiserie.

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