The hotel is the very definition of tony—it was built as a country house-style palais at the then edge of Paris in the late 19th century, and then became a private members-only club in the 1980’s before being turned into a hotel by the folks that own another Paris hotel, Relais Christine. The hotel itself sits behind massive stone gates on a secluded bit of parkland gardens that make for a serene escape from the hectic city streets beyond.
The hotel is nearly at the end of a floor-by-floor renovation (just the rooms on the top floor are closed now) that is aiming to bring back a decadent over-the-top fin de siècle chic back to the building and its 48 guest rooms.
The central grand staircase is the pièce de résistance, painted black and white and lit by a behemoth mixed-style chandelier that’s a true showstopper. The private restaurant and bar-lounge-library—open only to hotel guests—mix animal prints, dark wood paneling, leather club chairs and plush velvet upholstery to opulent but understated effect.
Each of the 48 guest rooms has also gotten (or is in the process of getting) a total, individualized redecoration, so no two look the same. In one you might find chinoiserie patterns, while in another, you’ll have leopard-print wallpaper and a tartan canopy bed (the Last Queen of Scotland room), and in a third, you might find overhead lights shaped like men’s bowler hats, and a collection of canes hanging on the wall (that’s the John Steed Junior Suite named after The Avengers character).
However, the decorative detail that most caught our eye during a recent visit was this whimsical wallpaper in the stairway we took on our way down to the hotel’s fitness center and Gemology Spa that was painted with all manner of old-timey colorful hot air balloons. We liked it as much as anything we saw at the hotel, and considered swiping a sample swatch for our own home deco file. Instead, we’ll just have to settle for gaping at it again on our next visit to the City of Lights.
Rates at the Saint James Paris start at 316.50 euros ($440) in November.