In the rarefied air of Paris, the indubitable epicentre of luxury, new luxury hotels often fumble in finding their feet. In a city boasting the most hotels per square metre, it would seem a difficult task for the new, boutique kids on the block – or rue – to establish themselves, no matter how flashy their new wares or swanky façades may be. They are big shoes, great shoes, fancy shoes to fill, and difficult at any given moment. Pitted up against the greats of the hotel world – the Ritzs’, the Four Seasons’, The Peninsulas’ alike – this new breed of luxury hotel is often lost in the shadows of their older, wiser and more established counterparts.
But, this new Parisian bedfellow does not proclaim to be the most opulent, the most exclusive, or the most rich in history. Indeed, they boast all the fancy furnishings, the decorative trimmings, the very hallmarks of a hotel shining brilliantly in the sky, five stars to be counted. But with a youthful swagger they, in many ways, undermine exactly this. Le Roch Hotel and Spa is one of these hotels.
The new lothario in the 2nd; this boutique hotel is completely beddable, seductive, sexy. Despite its glittery address, just off the Rue Saint-Honore and within a few well-heeled steps of The Louvre and Place Vendrome, it subverts the pomposity of the city, the stuffiness. With its contemporary design, modern appendages, jaunty staff; it is five star without the pointy edges; you are never stifling for air. It’s fresh, always.
For a hotel clothed, for the most part, in darks, it is curiously fresh – both in personality and appearance. This may in part be due to a fondness for the colour blue – or green – or a variation of; a jubilant hybrid created by master interior alchemist, Sarah Lavoine, who contrived the colour specifically for the hotel. Why? Because it “makes [her] happy.” Aptly coined “Le Bleu Sarah,” it is Sarah’s Blue, which in turn, has become Le Roch’s blue. It carries upwards and outwards to all 37 rooms, even to la piscine and beyond. Imploring a single colour to unite the entire hotel is a masterstroke from Lavoine, a bold move which now very much defines Le Roch’s character. From now on, whenever I see that hue of blue, I will forever think of Le Roch, such is the effect. It also appears to be a colour which is agreeable with many; rich, clean and of course, happy.
My room was, thankfully, a “blue room”, gamely sheathed in the colour from carpet to wall. For a drama queen, the curtains were a highlight, velvet and lofty, it were as if the curtains of a theatre were being drawn every morning to look out onto the Parisian streets. But, the show must go on; and it did, spectacularly so. Bespoke furniture was crafted by Lavoine specifically for the hotel. Pour example, the Le Roch ‘Console’, a stylish desk, and Lavoine’s ‘Leo’ Ottoman, the chicest pouf I ever did see. Plump in velvet and full of pizzazz, that inevitable shade of Sarah spliced the walls with contrasting black and white, while small-batch brews, truffled nuts and French crisps stacked le mini bar, with of course, the best French champagne and wine.
Despite being somewhat trivial, even the artful installation above the bed tied in with the colour scheme; one, lonesome singular tile in that ubiquitous shade sitting solo amongst a sea of ecru friends. It is through those very particulars that a true design hotel shines, because after all, it’s all in the details. Like the Marshall speaker – not only handsome for an object of tech, but handy, Bluetooth compatible for your desired music taste. And in case of (email) emergency – the WIFI is, importantly, excellent.
For me, a significant feature of a hotel room is the bathroom, and for many (myself included), this area often falls flat (or small). Not Le Roch. The bathroom is surprisingly generous; bench space is ample – fitting not one, not two, but three sprawling cosmetic cases – and with breathing space. No crowded Chanel lipsticks here. However it is le bain, which is the masterpiece, replete with retro tap fixture and Codage Paris amenities, its lure for a late-night soak is irrefutable. Or, a soak elsewhere, namely the pool; a sublime hidden grotto with water feature and generous Hammam. The interiors remain slick and sleek – but with an aquatic injection of Terry Towelling. Whilst on the same level, a Codage Paris Spa hides; a haven for tired tourists.
As for the service? Impeccable. For those with a fussy palate in the boudoir stakes, this is your hotel. Its stellar service began long before my trek to the City of Lights. Upon reservation, there is a questionnaire asking hotel preferences. The initial restless night of too-hard-too-soft is forgone with the choice to tailor your bed preferences before arrival: soft or firm, down or sponge, single or king, The Figaro or The Times. A King for myself – not too soft, just a little spongy. I felt like a modern-day Marie-Antoinette. And The Times, of course. Perfectly squishy, capacious and cosy, it was one of the most comfortable beds I ever did lay on (so much so I asked the concierge of its brand in an attempt to locate its whereabouts). Upon arrival, the hotel’s impresario was much like his staff; genuine, sweet, unaffected and gracious. And English was spoken – a win for any failed French linguist.
For a ‘design hotel’, it is difficult to pick one defining design feature, yet the Gubi beetle chair, in its strangely synchronous colourful couplings – mustard, navy, salmon, burnt sage – makes a striking proposition for the ultimate victor. They are hard to look past, and equally inviting. Eating fluffy croissants in the morning, or dining on Michelin-star fare in the evening, perched atop one is a must, and an integral part of the space as a whole.
As for the rest, it is retro with modish accents, yet suitably contemporary. Neon-rimmed mirrors, irregularly shaped and scored gilded tables, lamps with hand-painted trunks, a table which resembled a chequers board, framed artworks – mostly Post-Modernist, limber black vessels spurting forth fresh hydrangeas and foliage, and books – plenty, even their assembly is chic. An aesthetic overload, yes, but a most agreeable one at that.
And whilst the design is undoubtedly strategic, there is a spontaneity of sorts; a lamp here, l’object there, and herein lies its beauty. By day, I continued to scout new pockets of glorious design; Fauvist lamps, travel books, lofty Madonnas. Despite its boldness and distinct lack of restraint, it is a happy melange of print which remains pleasingly discordant, no fad-like incongruities. An indulgence in excess it may be, it is not deliriously excessive; it remains streamlined, sleek and polished, a brand of glamour anything but sleazy. It is all these curious cues which give the hotel its poetry. And what beautiful poetry it speaks.
In a rare moment of retrospection, there is one thing I would change. My length of stay. If only it were longer.
Au revoir, Le Roch, until next time.