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As my passport is scanned and credit card swiped at check in, I overhear a woman who is seated at the far end of the lobby (and speaking rather loudly), excitedly report home that the Brach is “achingly cool”. As I will soon discover, she is entirely correct in her gleeful assertions.
Fusing eco and mid-century furnishings with Oceania-style art,Philippe Starck’s upscaling of this former postal sorting house gets an indelible stamp of approval. The overall aesthetic is one of casual luxury. Each public space has its own custom scent, furnishings are rich and varied in texture – ranging from shearling to eucalyptus and buttery leathers. For Starck fans who favour the designer’s flashier traits, rest assured – his trademark quirks are not entirely muted. With a ritzy polish – and his signature dripping candelabra melting in the foyer – nods to his bold design aesthetic are omnipresent.
When the card beside the bed says “dial 12 for the patisserie” you know you’ve chosen well. A narcissist’s delight, your jewellery-box room is flanked with mirrored walls and offset with slabs of wood and marble rectangles, creating an upscale jigsaw effect. A rich colour palette of toffees, greys and buttermilk complement the beautiful African artwork which lines the upper enclaves of the room. With a variety of seating options – will it be the camel-leather chair, the hand-beaded stool or cowhide-covered chaise today? – space is maximised, aided by a floor-to-ceiling window and high ceilings. Glass partitions quarter off the bedroom from the shower room – complete with exposed-stone sink and underfloor heating – and a walk in wardrobe-cum-minibar. An assortment of treats from Le Maison du Chocolat, Ridley’s Games Room sets (backgammon, checkers and so on) and Beats by Dre headphones stock the shelves in the well-stocked bar. Pour yourself a pre-mixed drink by Avantgarde Spirits Company as you dress for dinner – No Seven: The Vesper (a wine-based aperitif with gin and vodka) slides right down.
What’s for breakfast?
Admittedly, we spent more time surveying the collection of jugs and oddities on display than perusing the menu. The XVI at €25 covers all the basics – from OJ and yoghurt to eggs and pastries in a paper bag (great for an on-the-go elevenses) – but it’s not the most thrilling you’ll find in Paris. Best to go for the simple and modestly priced “Parisian” at €7 for coffee or tea and sackful of pastries.
How about lunch and dinner?
Executive chef Adam Bentalha heads up Restaurant at Brach. Serving small plates and Mediterranean-influenced dishes, expect light and healthy food from this street-facing brasserie. For dessert, choose form an extensive selection of patisseries harboured behind a glass cylinder. The tarte au citron has our name on it while the tiramisu is made for sharing.
Is there a bar?
Before heading to Paris’ more centralised haunts, pause for a drink on the first-floor terrace. Guests have exclusive access to the mezzanine, bedecked with halogen bulbs, oversized flower pots and heaps of seating space.
A whiff of chlorine precedes the sub-terra Sports Club. An impressive sweat pod, at Brach a trip to the gym is an upscale affair – staff kitted out in Le Coq Sportif set the tone. Galvanised lockers and terracotta walls complement a well-curated selection of leather gym equipment displayed throughout the reception. Post workout, head for a swim or skip straight to rest phase of your exercise regime in the XXL jacuzzi.
On the first floor, you’ll note a children’s party room at the end of the corridor. Filled with pastel-hued balloons, jelly sweets galore, crates of coca cola, colouring sheets and freshly baked treats – our Peter Pan syndrome is on the rise.
Things you should know
Check-in is on the first floor.
Within a short walk you’ll find…
Not far from the Trocadero – if it’s your first time to Paris we’ll allow a brief viewing of the Eiffel Tower (strictly for bucket-list purposes). Off the beaten track, Bois du Boulogne is a vast park housing the Fondation Louis Vuitton and the Longchamps race track. Head to the former for contemporary exhibits and an equally beguiling exterior designed by Frank Gehry.
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