It Sèze It All: Hôtel de Sèze, Paris
Can Paris really accommodate yet another perfectly formed, architect-designed bijou boutique hide away? May wee, as they say in pubs of Bolton.
Madeleine is one of those Parisian areas; an, in-the-know hangout which locals love, but which scarcely flickers on the common tourist radar. And – one says smugly, upon unearthing the secret – long may it last.
Centred around L’église de la Madeleine, a church complete with Greek temple-style frontage (built to honour Napoleon’s army) and a daily flower market, this lovely district separates Champs-Élysées from Galleries Lafayette. There are pavement cafes, the odd sex shop, a truffle specialist, a vegan cafe. And, most of all, there are brilliant boutiques: ask any Parisian for their favourite porcelain-maker / chocolatier / leatherwear specialist and, odds on, the resultant tip will be located in Madeleine. Hôtel de Sèze fits in seamlessly to this quietly classy, bashful atmosphere. Opened in August 2014 and designed by architect duo Peyroux & Thisy, its four-star, 22 boutique rooms are a minute from Place de la Madeleine and have subtlety down to an art form.
As I wait patiently while Leo, later to be crowned as my all-time favourite Paris receptionist, arranges a taxi for a departing guest, I start noticing the details. So many details. Intricate lighting fixtures, carpet-like floors, naturalistic graphic paintings. A curio cabinet full of magnified birds, butterflies and shells. Demure silver and gold shades enlivened by cheery splashes of yellow, orange or sky blue. By the time Leo is ready, I’m beaming in giddy pleasure. After a brief exchange – free Wi-Fi details provided, a preposterous request for a reservation at a restaurant which doesn’t take reservations made – I found myself in my Deluxe room. “Big”, I summarised, gleefully. Later I got to see other chambers, including lower-category Superior rooms and the sole Executive room. “Also big.”
Deluxe rooms are larger than their Superior counterparts, but every option here is an unusually spacious bolthole in which one would happily linger. Four of the nine Deluxe rooms have bathtubs, as does the bigger-still Executive. Beyond ample cat-swinging dimensions, common themes are satin and velvet fabrics, bold bursts of colour and bedspreads doubling as modern art.
Then there’s the sole suite, Room 61. Its sixth-floor setting in the building’s eaves uniquely allows for views of the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Cœur from a central bed. Moiré marbled mosaics, a writing desk and a large bath lend extra indulgence. Seven storeys below, the basement’s Turkish bath-style hammam is an unexpected, steamy bonus clad in turquoise-hued stone. A vaulted, well-equipped gym located opposite provides an alternative route to healthy perspiration.
In keeping with the air of intimacy, breakfasts may be served inside bedrooms. I choose to take my yoghurts, fruits and pastries in the ground-floor lounge bar, where the self-service selection is slightly wider and the caffeine never-ending. One last coffee for the road, and I’m ready to head out. A local chum has tipped me off that Studio Harcourt, a studio famous for snapping cinematic icons, is now offering Ordinary Joes a 30-minute appointment to create a social-media profile photo. Not to mention nearby perfume house Ex Nihilo newly allowing visitors to create their own bespoke scents. Both claims turn out to be true, and wonderful privileges.
Before leaving, I check how Leo got on with the impossible reservation? Successfully, of course. By now, I’m not even surprised. It’s just another fine detail, another way I’m made to feel special and another reason why the de Sèze has, in just a day, become my go-to Paris hotel.
Words: Richard Mellor