When a Parisian friend recommended I stay at The Chess Hotel during a recent trip to the City of Light, I was a bit unsure. Not about the aesthetics, but rather the arrondissement. It is not in the 16th or the 6th, where I usually rest my head, but in the 9th.
The Chess Hotel is a design-led, hidden gem with interiors by Dorothée Boissier and Patrick Gilles, the duo behind the glitzy new Baccarat Hotel in New York. And their scheme on the quiet Rue du Helder had me at the lobby (third picture): polished chequerboard floors and an arresting black and white bird mural contrasting with mustard and teal hues.
My Superior Room (from €230, first picture) in this 50-room bolthole was small but sumptuous, with oak detailing and a soothing, largely neutral, colour palette. The Gilles & Boissier signatures – elegantly simple throws in shades of taupe and ivory; crisp white bed sheets – are paired with sculptural stone lamps and state-of-the-art electronics. But best of all are the monochrome bathrooms (second picture) of Carrara marble and vibrantly patterned tiles.
But I never spend much time in my room in Paris. And the location within striking distance of the Opéra Garnier and L’Eglise de la Madeleine, in fact, offered another vibrant side of Paris to me. One in proximity to such gourmet delights as Frenchie To Go, the latest offering by Jamie Oliver protégé Gregory Marchand, and pâtisserie Sébastien Gaudard – an exercise in sublime sucre from which I am still in recovery. And while The Chess itself has no restaurant, its afternoon tea of Mariage Frères mixes and decadent Popelini choux pastries is a good substitute.
Perhaps the defining feature of my stay, however, was the attentive staff, who happily arranged my car transfers, Eurostar tickets and difficult-to-get reservations at chef Daniel Rose’s nearby Spring. The Chess is no grand hotel; it’s low-key luxury and real value for money.