Paris is a city known for its grand hotels, but this summer, a newcomer sailed into town with an altogether different style.
Hôtel OFF Paris Seine opened its doors — or, more accurately, floated its planks — on the hipster end of the Seine near Gare d'Austerlitz and Pont Charles de Gaulle only a few weeks ago, but it's already become a hip hangout for locals smooching like sex gods in the pool.
Several years in the making, the structure is made from two catamaran-style vessels that were constructed in Rennes and sailed down the river to their final home, where they were merged together. From the rooms to the social spaces to the views, the first floating hotel in France is a unique way to experience the city. And although the novelty factor is high, Off is a real hotel. I would stay here for a month.
The hotel is spread over two floors. The restaurant, bar, decks, terraces, and wrap-around balcony are upstairs, with the dipping pool in the middle. Downstairs is a quirky communal area furnished with wooden benches and gold beanbags. Accommodations are 54 diminutive rooms reminiscent of berths on a ship and four larger suites. The designers, fashion and interiors duo Maurizio Galante and Tal Lancman, took an inside-outside approach, creating a fluid design that embraces the water that surrounds the boat. Everything was custom-made, including the copper furniture in the communal areas and the reception desk on wheels that was built around a piece of salvaged wood the designers say looks like driftwood from the river.
Breakfast served until noon on deck includes the usual selection of eggs, meat, cheeses, cereals, yogurt, fresh juices, and an endless supply of tea and coffee. The main menu, available in the evening, is a variety of French tapas, though the chef made me a delicious gluten-free, dairy-free, gourmet burger. Dining options nearby include a Caribbean-themed shack on the quay and the restaurant at Cité de la Mode et du Design, which Off recommends for lunch.
In the Room
The rooms are chic and compact — a comfortable double bed, a round armchair, and overhead shelving for storage (ships are rarely known for their spacious accommodations). The small bathroom has a shower behind a glass panel and a toilet enclosed in a black box. Wooden slats, some undulating like waves, are the primary decorative element, as are large windows overlooking the Seine, boardwalk, and ships passing in close proximity. There's so much to see.
Room with a View
Of the four suites, two are classified as designer. Everything in the Sunset Suite is orange and copper toned, while the Designer Silver Suite is decorated in silvers and grays except for the canary yellow tub and sinks. Reflective mirrors above the bed bring the Seine into the room.
This Place Is Perfect For
Design hounds. Trailblazers and wannabes. Hipsters. Mermaids and sailors.
Not So Perfect For
Anti-hipsters. Typical business travelers. And anyone who can't bear French couples making out in bikinis in the pool.
Off is on the gritty and industrial end of the Seine, attracting fewer tourists and more locals who come to hang out on the water, drink at the bars on boats, and dance along the river.
Things to Do Nearby
The fifth has always been a lively and very lived-in neighborhood, but the area is also rich with attractions. Riverside, the cultural hub The Docks at the Cité de la Mode et du Design is a recent addition to the area, as is the wonderful Institut du Monde Arabe. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Jardin des Plantes, a collection of galleries, gardens, and zoos, and the beautiful Grande Mosquée de Paris is a great place for traditional tea and a tagine lunch.
Rates begin at €180/night. Click here for reservations.