Tucked down an alley in the spirited 2nd Arrondissement you'll find Hotel des Grands Boulevards. Displaying a primped and feminine mystique, this madame beguiles from the outset. Identifiable by a wirework gate and sandstone guard dogs stationed at either end of the entranceway, playfulness and frivolity is par for the course here.
The second Paris-based hotel from the Experimental Group is positioned as an upper-mid level homestay catering to the more polished cool kid - think early adopters of a gentrified area rather than part of the trailblazing artistic coven. In line with a current generation of four-star lifestyle hotels, service is friendly without being fawning, while interiors weld romanticism with modern touches. Take the mirror-flanked lift to your floor and teeter along the carpeted "greige" corridor until you reach your bedroom door. Greeted by inky hues and a kitsch golden bumblebee knocker, you'll turn a tasselled leather key and enter your weekend sanctum.
With a macaron palette of sky blue, pink and pale green to rival Ladurée, bedroom interiors are peaceful and pretty as punch. Frou-frou furnishings - canopied beds, scalloped curtains and archway-style doors - are countered by oversized fishhook curtain tie-backs and contemporary glassware. The hotel's 50 bedrooms, designed by French celebrity interior decorator Dorothée Meilichzon, vary in size and stature but are uniform in their grandiose look. It's about mingling aristocratic designs with provincial furnishings, playing with the splendour of the pre-Revolution while allying to a more rustic aesthetic; linen and distressed-wood furniture combine with glass cupboards and red marble tabletops. Modern-day must-haves include an organic coffee machine, 300 thread-count sheets, a mirror that transforms into a TV, plus a mini bar cocktail collection by Experimental Cocktail Club and a dinky (and purchasable) dial-up phone.
Bathrooms are worthy of their own paragraph thanks to a sumptuous marble tub, double sink, trinity of mirrors and intricate trellis detailing along the base of the bath. You'll also spot cosy waffle robes and slippers, embroidered with a pale-blue design that is also found on the towelling. Guests are encouraged to take home a complimentary range of organic beauty products by the likes of Codage, Ren and Sachajuan.
Served from 7AM to 10.30AM daily (on Sunday brunch is also available between 12PM-3PM), breakfast is a buffet-style continental affair featuring eggs (though for a reason unbeknown to us, they don't do poached). The best petit déjeuner has got to be taken in bed, however, and silver-tray service will make you feel as extra as Louis XIV.
How about lunch and dinner?
Italian-born chef Giovanni Passerini focuses on French-Italian country cooking in the Grand Restaurant which is centred in and around a terracotta-tiled courtyard. The heart of the hotel, it's particularly alluring at 6PM when the light dances off 1930s-style windows as golden-hour rears its head. A retractable glass ceiling means warm summer days and balmy nights can run into one, festooned on a red banquette. The chef is known for his pasta shop, but it's more about the atmosphere than the meal here.
Is there a bar?
The Shell is a mould from which all Parisian cocktail bars should be cast; intimate, crimson walls, velvet armchairs and a brushed gold bar top. The room is inspired by Marie Antoinette's love of sea shells and evokes and sultry boudoir mise-en-scène. Open until 2AM, there's ample time to sample their cocktail menu, created by the master mixologists at the Experimental Cocktail Club.
Within a short distance you'll find…
Sunny days demand a trip to the Jardin des Tuileries followed by a meander along the bohemian Left Bank. A short walk westwards will bring you to the Place de l'Opéra, where you'll find the sumptuous Opéra National de Paris. Also within walking distance is the Musée des Arts et Métiers; spend a few hours marvelling at some of the 2,400 inventions within its collection, among them Foucault's pendulum.
Renowned local restaurant Frenchie (owned by Chef Gregory Marchand) is close by and a must if you haven't been before. For on-trend dining wander along the Faubourg Poissonnière, while it's worth noting that our new favourite neighbourhood, Pigalle, is just a 15-minute walk away. If only The Experimental Group will do, Hotel Panache is also in the area.
Things you should know
Despite its buzzing central location, bedrooms are entirely silent - thank you, sound proofing. And if the Hotel des Grands Boulevards is full, you can always stay at the group's sister hotel in the 9th - the Grand Pigalle.