Stars Come Out in Humble Hood
|Original design touches include sinks made of white pebbles embedded in red resin.
As real estate costs rise and gentrification spreads through Paris, the area around Nation, once considered a less-than-desirable residential backwater on the edge of the city, has taken on a fresh allure. It is still a mixed neighborhood, with lots of the characteristics that give old Paris its great charm, but it now boasts an increasing number of trendy restaurants and cafés to accommodate the younger, artsier types who have been moving in over the past decade.
Now, the appearance of a pioneering new “design” hotel in an area where no such thing has ever existed is a sure sign that the neighborhood is not just up-and-coming, but on the verge of arriving. The Hôtel Pavillon Nation opened in September and welcomed as one of its first guests a “famous Spanish actress” whose name would not be divulged by the hotel’s management, since the film diva had chosen to stay at the Pavillon Nation precisely because she could no longer stand the ostentation and lack of privacy of the Ritz, poor thing.
She would be staying in the Pavillon Nation’s best room, the junior suite 704, and I would recommend that visitors choose the same one or one of the 43-room hotel’s six “executive” rooms, which are somewhat larger than the others. Some of the rooms are so cramped that even the slimmest guest would have to squeeze in those abs to pass between the bed and the desk. That is my main complaint about this otherwise simply and attractively decorated hotel, which doesn’t overdo the “design,” but adds nice little touches here and there, such as the unusual bathroom sinks made of transparent red resin embedded with white pebbles.
Red is the hotel’s signature color, but it is balanced by white furnishings and neutral shades of mocha and gray-beige. The furniture was all made in Italy according to the designs of the hotel’s decorator, Christiane Derory.
On the other side of the hotel’s inner courtyard is one of its most spectacular features: a light-filled, glass-walled breakfast room (which can be rented out for special events) with a white-painted brick wall, wrought-iron decoration, sleek Italian chairs and a floor of metallic tiles. The hotel also has a small patio with a fountain.
To go with its design image; the Pavillon Nation is making an effort to add special little touches, such as offering cigars, chocolate truffles and champagne in the mini-bar rather than the usual vodka, beer and soda. Hairdressers and masseurs are on call 24 hours a day (the Spanish actress often takes advantage of this service), and guests are offered a free GPS device to carry with them; it not only keeps them from getting lost but also alerts them to nearby monuments. The hotel’s basement will soon house a fitness center and either a bar/lounge or seminar room.
I would recommend this hotel to anyone who wants a better-than-average place to stay in a non-touristy neighborhood that is reasonably close to the city center (the Nation station is served by four Métro lines and one RER line).
Hôtel Pavillon Nation: 13, boulevard de Charonne, 75011 Paris. Métro: Nation. Tél.: +33 (0)126.96.36.199.90. Fax : +33 (0)188.8.131.52.60. Rates: €140-€400 per night.
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