Gina Baksa says ‘oui’ to the new Renaissance Paris Republique boutique hotel, the perfect location for exploring the Marais, Canal St Martin and Louvre areas of Paris
Audrey Hepburn was, as ever, spot on when she said: “Paris is always a good idea” and certainly, the City of Lights looks its beguiling best in spring and early summer.
Returning to the French capital a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but notice a slight sea change in the air; the city was quieter with fewer tourists – and noticeably less Transatlantic accents. Last November’s terrorist attacks have resulted in a significant drop in visitors to the capital, notably from our friends across the Pond.
“We are hoping that spring brings them back,” admitted several business owners to me. “Numbers are down a lot since this time last year – especially from the Americans.”
For those lucky enough to live within a short train ride – thank you Eurostar! – Paris remains one of our most favoured destinations in the world. And we are never going to let anything get in our way of enjoying everything that this beautiful city has to offer.
Against this defiant backdrop, many new hotels and businesses have opened their doors. One hotel group waving the French flag includes the Marriot-owned Republique boutique chain. Its newest – and sixth hotel – the Renaissance Paris Republique opened just a month ago on Rue René Boulanger, just a stone’s throw from the Place de La Republique – a focal point for French solidarity since the Revolution.
Superbly located next to the northern tip of the Marais and close to Canal St Martin, Louvre, Opera, Buttes Chaumont and more, the aptly named Renaissance Paris Republique is an ideal base to explore Paris. Its somewhat functional architecture – the main building was once a branch of Credit Lyonnais, then squatted by an influential artists’ collective – hides a cool and sophisticated interior. The ambitious €58 million project has completely transformed the space into a highly desirable destination hotel and meeting place for residents as well as tourists.
Redesigned by architect Eric Haour, the building has retained its original unique portholes and created a further 3500 square meters of boutique-cool hotel, including nine floors of accommodation, a restaurant, bar, spa, three meeting rooms and three parking levels. In addition to a fabulous outdoor lounge/DJ/breakfast area.
Complementing the external structure is the experienced eye of interior designer Didier Gomez, whose work I love. A nod to African themes and the neighbourhood’s artistic legacy has resulted in miniature art galleries throughout the hotel, showcasing work from local artists.
Strong use of gold, copper, browns and creams, his stylish yet welcoming interiors lend a contemporary feel with use of exotic woods and leathers that contrast with the contemporary artwork in the bedrooms and public spaces. The attention to detail is superb, with Gomez taking his inspiration from artist’s studios from the 50s and 60s. Indeed, in a nod to its artistic heritage, the hotel hosts events once a month with artists across all borders taking over the bar and lounge areas.
“We designed Renaissance Republique with the local community in mind, first and foremost,” explains Gomez. “We wanted to create a neighbourhood destination as we believe this is what today’s Next Generation traveller seeks from a hotel stay. The Republique features a high-low design approach that harmoniously incorporates luxurious high-end finishes with raw, gritty, concrete surfaces.”
The rooms have six categories: Paris Style, Boho, Urban, Artist’s Studio, Skyline and Penthouse – which was still under construction when we visited. I stayed in three different rooms – due to a hot water issue (snagging problems are quite usual in the early days) ranging from a lovely compact room with a balcony and views over the Parisian rooftops, and down to the inviting outdoor area below – to a larger room at the front overlooking the main street. The bed was the most comfortable I have ever slept on and I loved the open plan bathroom (with discreet shades for the shy) that gave the space so much light. Soundproofing is excellent.
A generous mini-bar, replete with powdered aphrodisiacs, locally brewed beer and chocolates, huge TV screen, blackout curtains (yay!) a Nespresso machine and quick-to-respond room service gives the Republique my vote. In the suites, guests will even find mixology kits to create their own aperitifs, plus gin and whisky flasks.
Choose a room between the 6th and 9th floors and you’ll be given superlative views across the City of Lights towards Beaubourg, Notre Dame, Montmartre (bring binoculars) and the towers Eiffel and Montparnasse.
I had a sneak peak into the Penthouse Suite: a huge 50s-inspired living room and sleeping space on the 5th floor that boasts its own Jacuzzi on a large terrace. Perfect for private parties or intimate celebrations.
Breakfast can either be enjoyed in bed à deux or make your way downstairs to the capacious dining area where buffet dining has been eschewed in favour of table service. Choose from a selection of hot beverages, fresh juices, pastries, granola, fresh fruits and eggs of the day with one main dish of meat, fish or a vegan plate. Sublime and superbly fresh. The croissants were to die for and the coffee superb.
The lobby area – with its bright red desks – sweeps down in a slight curve through to the bar and lounge area, the restaurant and at the very back, the kitchens. Amazingly it all works seamlessly. Attention to style and detail are paramount: armchairs from Hamilton Conte, original ceramics by such notables as Claudine Monchaussé and Gustave Tiffoche, as well as vintage pieces from Christian Defrance and Joseph-André Motte.
The fabulous Art Deco-looking Bar Martin at the epicentre of the lounge area serves an eclectic selection of aperitifs, dinner and bar snacks. The perfect segue into an evening of live DJ sets on the terrace when the warm weather kicks in. The outdoor space is stunning. Running alongside the lobby to the restaurant, a 245m2 slate garden wall has been created with green plantings (by the Tracer Society) suffused with geraniums and bellflowers that a tranquil space for late lunches or drinks after midnight.
I didn’t get a chance to sample lunch or dinner at the Republique but a look at the inventive menu suggests you might like to stay in at least one night, with prices starting at €25 and €50 respectively.
If you’re in need of a relaxing recharge, then take advantage of the spa underneath the lounge area with its sauna, hamman and jacuzzi. You can work off lunch at the gym or lie back and think of France while in the expert hands of the hotel’s aestheticians who only use acclaimed Sothys products for face and body treatments.
All in all a wonderful place to stay during your next visit to Paris, the Paris Republic Renaissance combines street cool with sophisticated attention to detail, in addition with excellent service from its friendly, attentive and knowledgeable staff. Vive La France!
Where & How
Cost: Standard double rooms at Le Renaissance Paris Republique start from €300.
Where: 40 Rue René Boulanger, Paris 10ème.
How: Please phone +33 (01) 71 18 20 95 or visit www.Marriott.fr to make a booking.
Getting there. Eurostar operates up to 21 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare Du Nord with one-way fares starting from £29.