A crisp walk along the Seine is all you need this December – especially now that the new Hoxton has opened in the French capital, says Stylist’s deputy editor Susan Riley
I know it. You know it. You’ve not taken all your holiday days and if you don’t use them, you’ll lose them. Do. Not. Panic. Paris is here. Paris is always here. Always here for that last-minute jaunt across the Channel to meander along boulevards and pavement café-hop.
Obviously Paris is not short on cool places. It never has been and never will be. And I cannot possibly list them all here. But there is one new cool place worth mentioning that you really should swing by between eating crêpes on street corners and finding that perfect confit de canard: The Hoxton, Paris. Now newly open and waiting for your winter cocktail order.
Positioned on Rue du Sentier in the 2nd arrondissement, The Hoxton, Paris is housed in one sweet building. Full credit for it must obviously go to architect Nicolas d’Orbay, who built it for Etienne Rivié (an advisor to Louis XV no less) in the 18th century. More recently, it was converted into a clothing factory before laying empty for a whole decade until The Hoxton got its visionary hands on it, so some of the props must go to them for its renaissance. So esteemed is this building that it’s been awarded the title of ‘monument historique’, an accolade given to all French national heritage sites like the Louvre and so forth. So, you know, no biggie.
As the fourth in the Hoxton series, Paris is the biggest yet with 172 bedrooms. Although, as ever with this brand, the sleepover element blends quietly into the background, with it feeling first and foremost like a must-frequent restaurant and bar. And the hippest of locals are most definitely hanging out here already; it was slammed the Friday and Saturday night I stayed in late October. And bear in mind it’s not yet fully on the radar.
For residents and non-residents alike, it’s a lovely place to be. The lobby is brilliantly ‘wow’: a double-height atrium with squidgy sofas and a beautifully restored 300-year-old spiral staircase that winds itself up to the roof. Outside, an open courtyard spills out into an al fresco bar which, in typical Parisian style, stays busy no matter what the temperature.
Modern brasserie Rivié – all marble tops and cosy banquette seating, and more often than not a DJ on the decks – adopts a Friday night vibe all week long. And the food is of note: steak tartare, sea bream ceviche, and miso-roasted aubergine were all dished up to share at our table.
As a resident, not having to leave when last orders are called is obviously nice (although it would be better if paying guests had some perks; there’s no residents’ lounge or mini bar to carry on any kind of after-party), even if you do have to wheel your suitcase round the revellers when you check in. Rooms come in four sizes: Shoebox, Cosy, Roomy and Biggy. I’ve got a Biggy on the ground floor with beautiful double-height ceilings that feel oh-so-decadent (head up to the fourth floor and there are three attic rooms which afford views of the Eiffel Tower) and slick décor that kept me and my Instagram account busy for a while. Although I didn’t feel quite so decadent when I forgot twice to put my breakfast bag outside my door at night (juice, granola, yoghurt and a banana can be left outside for those who remember to ask for it) and each morning had to go out in a frantic hungover search for a croissant and chocolat chaud.
Many of Paris’ sights are an easy walking distance from the hotel – the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou – although it’s worth exploring the area around The Hoxton to enjoy its quaint arcades (Galerie Vivienne, Passage des Panoramas, Passage Choiseul). Rue Montorgueil, with its market-style atmosphere, is also worth a stroll; Paris’ oldest pâtisserie – Stohrer, which opened in 1730 – is at number 51.
In fact, we pretty much walked everywhere we went from The Hoxton, Paris. One morning to the hot ticket in town: Christian Dior, Couturier Du Rêve at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (on until 7 January, so hurry!), which is absolutely worth the queues snaking round the block. Every House of Dior designer’s creations are laid out to study under one roof. Sartorial heaven.
Another great walk is to Montmartre, up the eclectic Rue des Martyrs then via the original Moulin Rouge with a stop at ACP’s discount store and a quintessentially French lunch at Le Bistrot de la Galette (bistrotdelagalette.fr) thrown in. It’s full of locals in an otherwise touristy quarter, and my duck – sandwiched between buttery pastry with the most delicious violet-coloured mustard – was wonderfully rustic and the service reassuringly brusque.
Also worth visiting right now is the newly opened Musée Yves Saint Laurent (museeyslparis.com) and Fondation Louis Vuitton’s exhibition Being Modern: MoMA In Paris (fondationlouisvuitton.fr; until 5 March). Showcasing 200 works – shown for the first time ever in France – from the likes of Klimt, Magritte and Duchamp, it makes for essential viewing.
Paris has always been a go-to destination for foodies and right now, its restaurant scene is hotter than ever. La Condesa (lacondesaparis. com) is one of the most talked about tables in the city, serving fusion dishes such as celery granita with white tofu and veal with kombu algae. For something a little less formal, friendly cafe Mokonuts is the place to be – their fennel and almond cookies sell out fast.
But of course don’t feel obliged to do it all in one weekend. Because we’ll always have Paris. It’s always here.