PARIS – It's glamorous, decadent, and loaded with atmosphere. There's so much to love about L'Hôtel in Paris. I'll try to limit myself.
*The tucked-away location on a quiet Saint-Germain street one block from the Pont des Arts is important only if you want to leave the hotel — a decision you will struggle with.
*The iron ram's head hanging by a chain above the entrance and the open rotunda that ensures everyone speaks in low whispers.
*The intoxicating scent of sage, bergamot, and cedar. (Green & Spring candles are scattered everywhere).
*The private underground hammam pool and wet steam room is clean, warm, and free for guests. You should reserve it the moment you check in for every day that you are there. Can you think of a better way to end a hard day walking around Paris, absorbing all that culture, than swimming naked in your secluded candlelit grotto?
*The book-lined bar is intimate, luxurious, and gorgeous: velvet chairs; Jean Cocteau drawings; photos of Oscar Wilde, Colette, and Johnny Depp. The snacks are delicious, the water spiked with cucumber slices, and the drinks come fast and go down smooth.
*Free water. Free wifi. Green & Spring toiletries. Cush bedroom slippers. This is how amenities should be done.
*The history. In 1900, a morphine-addled Oscar Wilde lost his battle with the decor: "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has to go." L'Hotel has been renovated several times since, most recently by Parisian hotel darling Jacques Garcia, of Hotel Costes and Hotel Bourg Tibourg renown.
*The extraordinary staff. Clearly, they accepted their jobs with the hope that I (me!) would one day stay at their hotel. They made me feel like I was their only and most important guest. No question I could ask was stupid, no request was denied. These people are trained. The guy who brings you fresh towels, the astute bartender, the receptionist — all welcoming, discrete, efficient, and attentive exactly when they should be. Nary a hint of Parisian or hipster attitude. Bonus points for the staff uniforms tailored from purple corduroy.
*There are only twenty rooms and no two alike. Ours, #52, had leopard print carpet, oil paintings, the aforementioned extraordinary wallpaper, inspired lighting, velvet black out drapes, the comfiest bed (no dreaded two singles pushed together here), a tricked-out marble bathroom, a fully stocked wetbar.
*Our view of the towers of St Sulpice. The only outside noise we heard were church bells.
Insider tip: Apparently, the "small mignon" and "mignon" are truly too small to move in. We found a way to save euros and score a bigger room. L'Hotel's last-minute offers list dates and rooms at prices lower than what you'll find elsewhere. When we called the hotel, the rooms in our price range were not available. But they were available on Tablet, so we booked "mignon" on Tablet and were upgraded to "bijoux" upon check-in. Be warned: This isn't a fool-proof strategy. This was traveler's luck.