Le Pigalle, Paris
20 November, 2018
As a neighbourhood, Pigalle has always attracted thugs and artists, musicians and adventurers. We'll wait while you label yourselves accordingly.
Known as "La Nouvelle Athenes" thanks to its neoclassical architecture, it is far grittier than the stuff you'll find in your oysters along the Rue St Honore. It's a great starting point for a trip to Paris that is more boho than bouji; a Shoreditch-esque rejuvenation is underway and a flock of boutique hotels are sprouting up just beyond the central strip.
Regulars at the Ace Hotels or the Hoxton should opt to stay at eponymous Le Pigalle, where chilled vibes and distinctly downplayed style make it a pied-à-terre in the truest of senses. Decorated with second-hand furniture, trinkets, marble-topped surfaces and terrazzo floors, Le Pigalle encompasses all that Pigalle is and all that it aspires to be. In the basement and elevators, red high-gloss painted walls are offset with leopard-print carpet - not unlike our prized Buffalo platform trainers circa 1998 - making it clear as day (and night) that Le Pigalle is no wallflower.
Comfortably compact, rooms follow a similar style, regardless of size or spec. Expect frame-flanked walls, king-size beds and a bathroom overflowing with Le Labo amenities. Despite raucous surrounds, rooms are soundproof and the beds are so succumbing that sleep is not a laboured task. After a night of bar hopping, retreat upstairs, pour yourself a pre-mixed cocktail from the mini bar and accompany with a soundtrack of historic vinyl selected by Victor Kiswell.
What's for breakfast?
Breakfast is served in the dining room or in room (at a charge of €5). Choose from a concise menu of croissants and brioche sourced from a local bakery, Le Petrai Medieval, or for something morning substantial order a pairing of soft-boiled eggs served with cream cheese, toast and fresh herbs alongside a mango, avocado and ginger salad. Wash down with a glass of OJ and a café crème. For breakfast in bed, orders can be processed from your personal iPad - ideal if it's still far too early to chat to anyone directly. Just make sure you allow a cushion for delivery - 30 minutes should do it.
How about lunch and dinner?
Menus have a distinctly local flavour. Available from 11am until 11pm, you won't go far wrong with an order of burrata, sage and rosemary fritters accompanied by sweet-potato croquettes with spicy yoghurt. Chase with the white-chocolate and orange-flower panna cotta.
Is there a bar?
Come 8pm, the lobby becomes a modern-day salon awash with creative types. From lecture series to parties, DJ sets and table dancing, Le Pigalle is a place for low-key partying. Sip on Dean Shury's signature cocktails or Petite Pigalle beer, brewed in the neighbourhood on rue de la Goutte d'Or. At the far end of the lobby you'll clock a small red-velvet flanked booth. Step behind the curtain and try to resist the stripper pole - the neon model bolted to the wall in a gravity-defying pose does not need imitating.
Le Pigalle is frill free so don't expect much more than bed, board and a bit of debauchery. In-room you'll find a well-versed iPad loaded with information from restaurant guides to florist recommendations.
Things you should know
10 minutes by Metro to Gare du Norde, or 20 minutes on foot - ideal for a weekend jaunt to Paris for less than you might expect.
Within a short walk I can find…
Sex shops galore and some great independent bistros, including L'Entrée des Artistes and Pink Mamma.