“This is like a childhood dream come true, an opportunity to do something much bigger than we have before,” says Romée de Goriainoff, one of the founders of the group behind Experimental Cocktail Club, of its latest Paris project, Hotel des Grands Boulevards. “We have larger public spaces, a bar, a rooftop and an immense streetside terrace, not to mention the best Italian chef in town, Giovanni Passerini.” The Experimental Group already counts more than a dozen bars, restaurants and hotels in London, Paris, New York and Ibiza, but the Grands Boulevards may be its most ambitious establishment yet.
Tucked away in a pre-French Revolution building on an avenue midpoint between the gentrifying popular neighbourhoods of eastern Paris and the stately Haussmannian residences around the Place de l’Opéra, this 50-plus-room inn (which launches in a few weeks, with booking now open) has a cheeky vibe and riffs on the building’s original époque.
“We were looking to do an updated country aesthetic,” says Dorothée Meilichzon, who also designed the group’s previous hotels, the Grand Pigalle and Covent Garden’s recent Henrietta. “We’re talking red marble and vintage blue tiles, cast-iron stoves and references to Marie Antoinette’s Versailles farm.” The idea, she says, was “to take the grandest elements from back in the day and make them more accessible and humble, but without falling into a Louis XVI cliché, to create a contemporary hotel inspired by the building’s historic roots.” The resulting public spaces are a compelling mix of interior and exterior, terracotta and vegetation, trellises, greenhouses, fountains and statues.
Rooms are cosy, with draped canopy beds (another pre-Revolution invention) and vintage bedlinens, plastered walls and time-worn furniture, without forgetting modern-day must-haves such as high-speed WiFi, organic-coffee machines and IP telephone lines.
As for the restaurant run by Passerini? “It’s difficult to say if it’s French or Italian, bistro or fine dining”, says de Goriainoff. “ All I can tell you is that with Gio it will be unique.”
He continues, “I think that with competitors like Airbnb – who are also hoteliers in our opinion – the hotel should be something that allows you to connect the locals with the travellers. What we need to do is demonstrate to a visitor that, when staying a night with us, we will show you exactly what is going on in Paris at that moment.”