On a recent, semi-spur-of-the-moment trip to France, we needed a night in Paris when we first arrived before departing the next day for the Burgandy countryside. I have a number of hotels that I like in Paris – ranging from the very basic Le Meridien to the very posh George V – but was looking for something different and new to try.
Searching the Starwood site, I found the latest addition to the company’s portfolio there – Les Bains – in the 3rd arrondissement. Initially it was appealing because of the location (close to the Centre George Pompidou, Saint Chappelle, Notre Dame) and then additionally due to the legendary Haussman architecture that it showcases. And, sure, it doesn’t hurt that Architectual Digest is also a huge fan.
But when we checked in we learned more about the history of this building and hotel – known now in its marketing and logo by three distinct milestones in its past: 1885, 1978 and 2015 (more on that below). To get a feel for why this is a truly unique property (and, by the way, with surprisingly reasonable rates even in the spring in Paris), here is the description from Harper’s Bazaar London in September 2015, noting this as one of “the best places to stay in Paris”:
As the Studio 54 of Paris, in its heyday Les Bains nightclub welcomed everyone from Yves Saint Laurent and Mick Jagger to Kate Moss and Johnny Depp. Since reopening in March, the Marais icon – once a 19th-century private bathhouse [opened in 1885] visited by Marcel Proust – invites you to carry on the party and stay the night in one of its 39 rooms and suites. The grandeur of the Haussmann architecture is enhanced by glorious marble bathrooms, wood panelling and antique furniture belonging to former guests, including a rug once owned by Gainsborough. Public spaces galore – including a bar, lounge, terrace and club – mean you can drink and dance almost anywhere, anytime. Or book into La Salle à Manger restaurant, headed up by Michelin-starred Philippe Labbé, where you’ll find a 15-metre-tall private dining-room in the former water tank of the Bains Guerbois.
Impressed yet? No? Then check out the New York Times’ review from June 2015, noting in part:
There were other clubs in that golden age of Paris night life, but perhaps none of them were as era defining. Opened in 1978 on the site of a 19th-century bathhouse in the Third Arrondissement, Les Bains Douches made stars of its designer (Philippe Starck) and resident D.J. (David Guetta), who were unknown at the time. Joy Division recorded a live album in the basement, where Prince performed impromptu and Depeche Mode played years before selling out stadiums. And then there was the crowd. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yves Saint Laurent, Mick Jagger, Johnny Depp and Kate Moss were there, indeed. But it was really about the cross section of clubgoers and creatives, highbrow and low, glamorous and underground, big names and nobodies, all mingling by the mosaic tile pool.
Oh, and by the way, the rooms are awesome – including red velvet sofas modeled on the ones in Andy Warhol’s Factory. A few pictures below – the product of the 2105 renovation and reopening – showing the very modern sleek bathroom, terrace doors, the oh-so-retro telephone (dial 911 if you need anything at all in service, we were advised – no, seriously, 911, really), and the Marshall radio replica which is now your personal stereo system for the stay.