Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Friday, November 9, 2012

Beautiful New Boutique Hotels In Paris, London & NY

I like a hotel with personality. I like it when there's a little whimsy and wit in the design. Customer service is important too, and a deep bathtub's also quite nice. But there's nothing like an engaging interior to make a hotel stay really memorable.

Here are some beautiful new boutique hotels that I've noticed lately. Some have opened; others are opening soon. And others have been around for a short while but the world just hasn't noticed them yet. There's a hotel for hat lovers, a hotel for gardenistas, even a hotel for Marie Antoinette lovers in an unused wing of the great palace of Versailles.

I hope they offer some idea for the next time you travel. And with that, The Library is taking a mini hiatus for a week or two. Thank you for all the lovely comments, which have really touched me. I very much hope you'll pop by again when The Library returns.

Smart, striped, marquee-style awnings, cobalt-blue chesterfield sofas, black and white vintage photographs and luxurious terraces overlooking midtown Manhattan... The Roger is one gorgeous New York hideaway. Recently refurnished, this cheeky-but-still-sleek little place is perfectly located in the Flatiron District, so you're close to all the design stores, but that's not the best part. The real highlights here are the rooms, especially the terrace suites, which have their own private outdoor areas with great views over the city streets. The decor is based on a rich palette of deep navy and black and white, and there are all sorts of 'extras' to make you go "awww", from welcoming armchairs to a cute bow-tie motif. I've already bookmarked it for my next visit to Manhattan.

I loved the idea for The Refinery right from the start. A former millinery (hat-making) factory located in the stylish heart of the Fashion District, this chic new hotel has retained its industrial-style architecture and ornate, neo-Gothic facade but has undergone a stunning makeover in other places to create a spectacular new Manhattan hangout. The design – inspired by both a millinery factory at the turn of the century and a 1920s-style tea parlor – combines decadence, glamour and a great deal of flair. The Refinery's owners say it's "debonair" but I suspect it's going to be more feminine than that. There are sofa with inside-out over-lock seams that give a wink to the Fashion District, coffee tables modelled after old factory cart, enormous 12-foot ceilings and large windows that open to offer lots of natural daylight, dark brushed oak hardwood floors reminiscent of old factory floors, and - best of all – marble and mosaic floor bathrooms with polished brass and antique bronze details. They've even got a Pinterest site with wonderful vintage photos of glamorous women in 1920's fashions. Just lovely.

This is my favourite new London hotel. I had the pleasure of staying here two weeks ago, and the service was some of the best I've ever had. I wasn't a paying a lot either (I only had a small room), so they didn't need to be nice to me. But they were beyond lovely. They polished my boots (for free), found information for me (free), left a box of delectable chocolates on the bed (free), organised dry cleaning (staggeringly cheap), and even emailed me sweet notes when I returned home. Part of Kit Kemp's Firmdale Group, the Dorset Square isn't as expensive as its hotel sisters and is located in a great posi too – right next to Marylebone High Street's sophisticated shopping strip (Marlene Birger, etc) and a wander from Selfridges and the West End. My favourite thing? The botanical wallpaper. Have you ever seen anything as witty? Oh – and there's a cute restaurant called The Potting Shed too. Loved it all. Can't wait to return.

Some of you may have already seen my pix of the Maison Favart. It's Paris' cutest new hotel – and has already established something of a reputation because of it. Indeed, it's often booked out, so if you fancy it, secure a room early. The interior is Lacroix-meets-Marie Antoinette. (My interpretation, not the hotel's, although they've also called it "theatrical".) There are whimsical pictures on the walls, a pastel pink, biscuit and grey palette, a strikingly graphic diamond carpet and all manner of curious embellishments. It's fascinating. The prices, unfortunately, are rather grand, and the location doesn't merit the rates, but it's still a stylish little find.

It's not open yet, but The Hotel du Grand Controle is set to be one of the most talked-about hotels in France, if not the world when it does finally put out the 'Welcome' sign. The hotel is set in part of the palace of Versailles, and overlooks the magnificent Orangerie, one of the great gardens of the world. The building, which was derelict for many years, is being restored by Belgian company Ivy International SA and will open as a luxury hotel sometime (hopefully) in 2013. (It had been scheduled to open late 2011, but restoration works are taking longer than expected.) Okay, so it's not a boutique hotel, and I suspect the prices will be in the Versailles league, but it will still be fabulous. 

{No website yet}


  1. Awesome post it is really so interesting to read this article. I think I become addictive to this.

  2. Such a lovely collection you've highlighted. I'm definitely filing these ones away for the next overseas jaunt. Have a good break, we'll miss you! xx

  3. Dear Janelle have not just a lovely, restful weekend but a well deserved break! Or are you busy trying to finish writing three books? In that case, have a productive, industrious time. xx

  4. Dont be away too long please! Though it does give me a chance to catch up you ever re visit old posts for our comments to your comments?

    1. Yes, I've been meaning to do the ones I've missed, so I shall go back this week and do so. Thank you for your lovely comments. I've been so grateful for all the lovely notes. If I didn't answer them all, I'm very sorry; it was difficult when I was travelling. But I will revisit them all this week. xx

  5. I enjoyed this post. I came via a comment from one of my blog followers, Norma Enos, as she likes your photography and interest in books, among other things. This looks like a truly interesting blog, and I'll be back.

  6. Hello Janelle, Thank you for another fabulous post the pictures of the Hotels are beautiful.We are going to Paris in April and we are looking for a nice hotel for a few days. The Favart looks beautiful will store that away.Will miss you for a couple of weeks.Take care x Trish

  7. I also love boutique hotels and visiting them and seeing the decor. I find them to be very cozy hideaways in a busy city. Thanks for sharing these!

  8. My room at the Wrest Point Casino tower for that conference last week made me cry tears of blood. Think Pumpkin Orange painted walls & ceiling, olive green vinyl hedadboard on the bed, faded red bedspread & purple swirly carpet. A sign in the lift said they were celebrating their 39th year. And I reckon my room was exactly as it was on that 1973 Opening Day!! I will be making a claim for Post Traumatic Room Stress Disorder.
    Millie xx

    1. Dear Millie
      So understand! I once stayed at a conference hotel in Paris which was just dreadful too. The bathrooms were clearly from late 60s/70s with walls in smeary sickly avocado/pea soup vinyl, a shower that always overflowed (no matter what you did to avoid) and pooled all over the floor, heading for the room. The window was fixed so you could open it only a fraction to let the tiniest amount of air in. Every night at around 2.00am they must have had some sort of recycling with their climate control system because the room used to fill up with clouds of stale cigarette smoke for an hour. I used to get up and stand with my nose glued to the little window opening to be able to breathe. It wasn't just my room, all the other delegates from Oz found the same thing. Oh, also, the rooms had a view either over a cemetary or the train lines of a big railway station. Probably one of the worst hotels I've ever stayed in. And it was Paris! A sign said "Do not use lift in case of fire." Best wishes, Pamela

  9. Pretty good post.I discovered your site by way of Google while looking for a similar subject, your web site came up, it appears good. I’ve added to favorites added to my bookmarks.
    Book Hotels in London

  10. “I like a hotel with personality.” – That is one thing we have in common! And I think these hotels exude a fair amount of personality and character. But I think what I like most in hotels like these is they continue to innovate without losing their touch of class. The rooms are sophisticated, which will surely captivate even those who have selective taste.

  11. Those look like some of the nicer hotels in NYC. Thanks for posting all the pics!


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