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Airport hotels with their deserted lobbies, lifeless guest rooms and sad and stranded travelers, can be depressing places, but the CitizenM Paris at Charles De Gaulle airport shattered every airport hotel stereotype from the moment we walked inside.
Natural light streamed in from all sides of the whimsically decorated lobby, which held bright red chairs and sofas, ceiling-height black bookshelves crammed with books and tchotchkes, and subtle nods to airplanes. More refreshingly, there were actual people hanging out in the lobby-- watching TV, working at one of the many tables, having drinks at the bar or reading a book/tablet in a quiet nook.
Given that the rooms upstairs are tiny, it makes sense that guests would choose to socialize downstairs but if you want to hunker down in your guestroom, you'll have a giant king bed, a Samsung tablet next to you that controls everything in the room from the blinds to the TV and mood-lighting, free movies, free WiFi, a narrow desk to work at or to place all your gadgets on for charging, a wide shower berth, and just enough space on the floor to do some squats and sit-ups.
Best of all, the hotel windows are triple-glazed, meaning you won't hear the rumble of the airplane engines unless you step outside.
In short, the world's airport needs more of CitizenM Hotels, which are genuinely fun (and not some forced corporate idea of fun) and make that random layover actually enjoyable.
Here's a quick breakdown of our stay at the CitizenM Paris at Charles de Gaulle:
We've griped before about hotel housekeeping barging in on us when we fail to hang the Privacy or Do Not Disturb sign on the door, but CitizenM Hotels sums up our exact intentions for keeping housekeeping out of rooms--"Don't come in, there's someone naked In here."
We spied this door hanger at the year-old CitizenM at Charles De Gaulle, along with a bunch of other clever amenities and offerings that have made what could have been a dull airport hotel stay quite fun. But CitizenM has been touting this truth on a Do Not Disturb sign since 2010. Some things never change, especially when you don't have pants on.
We'll have more from inside this CitizenM at CDG this week but in short, the world's airports need more CitizenM Hotels (but especially JFK Airport in NYC.)
Bit by bit – or painfully piecemeal, depending on your perspective – the details on what to expect at Hotel Ritz Paris when it reopens towards the end of the year are coming out. We’ve looked at the hotel in various stages of its réhabilitation (last time was late February), which began nearly three years ago.
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Summer is fast approaching and if you're looking for a truly affordable hotel in Europe that doesn't involve surly front staff, decor from the 70s, walking up 10 flights of stairs, or a PC from the 90s that qualifies as the "business center", then you should check out Generator.
This hip hybrid brand of hostel and hotel rooms has opened properties in Barcelona, Dublin, Copenhagen, Venice and Berlin, all at seriously reasonable prices with shared rooms as low as 15 Euros. Even their two newest properties in the world's most expensive cities--London and Paris--are still wildly affordable thanks to a new 20 percent off promotion.
From now through August 31, Generator London (near King's Cross) and Generator Paris (in the 10th Arrondissement) are offering 20 percent off their rooms which range from dorm-style with en-suite bathrooms to private rooms with private balconies. Both properties have 24-lounge, cafes and nightlife venues. And of course, there is free WiFi here. (You can peep the inside of Generator London here.)
To book, select your dates and check the "Pay Now and Save" option. Rates for the private rooms in London were going for 53GBP in mid-June, while private rooms in Paris were at 67 Euros.
Not heading to Europe this summer? That's ok as more Generators are expected to generate within the next two years in Rome and Amsterdam as well as Miami and LA.
The mirror screen behind the bar
This is, of course, the hotel that has two delectable cats so it's no ordinary grande dame. Le Bristol has recently teamed up with the Piasa auction house, just down the road. From now until the end of the month, the giant mirror-slash-screen in Le Bar du Bristol will show SPIRIT: a showcase of modern works selected by Piasa’s Timothée Chaillou and artist and curator Mathieu Mercier.
Could this be the hotel pool?
It may be time to rename the City of Light the City That Never Sleeps… When It Comes To Hotels. Paris is on fire at the moment, and the latest project to get on the road is the Seine-side Hermitage Plaza, in the La Défense area (Europe’s largest purpose built business district, according to Wikipedia).
There are more superlatives for the project itself – twin glass towers, the tallest multi-purpose building “ever erected in Western Europe” according to the people behind it. To put that into perspective, at 320m high, it’s almost the same height as the Eiffel Tower (they’ve deliberately made it a little shorter, so as not to outshine Monsieur Gustave). And although it’s not especially central, the height means you’ll get sweeping views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, too.
As we told you before, the building originally opened as a bath house – Marcel Proust’s favorite, no less. In the 1970s, a newbie designer called Philippe Starck turned it into a nightclub, and it swiftly became the place to party in Paris. Then, it fell into disrepair, occasionally hosting artist residences. And now, it’s a hotel. Or, rather, hotel, restaurant and club, according to Paris Match. (Starck’s famous black-and-white checkered club flooring is now part of the restaurant.)
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Progress on the Salon César Ritz
Saying the Ritz Paris has been closeted away for a while now is something of an understatement – we're talking July 2012 - but as the interminable renovations finally begin to drag to a close, some concrete information is emerging.
Specifically, information in the shape of this interview with Christian Boyens, the General Manager.
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Walter Bolzonella at the Cipriani
Having a drink in one iconic hotel is good enough. Having a drink in one iconic hotel that’s mixed by the staff from another iconic hotel – even better. Having a drink from one iconic hotel that’s made by the staff of another iconic hotel while on the most iconic train on the planet? We need a drink. Preferably one made by the Ritz Paris bartenders, but made at the Belmond Cipriani in Venice, or served on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
In a collaboration between the two hotels and the famous train, the head bartenders of the Ritz Paris (Colin Field - who, of course, is currently homeless, since the hotel is closed, and is going around the world staging pop-ups) and the Cipriani (Walter Bolzonella) will run a pop-up bar at the Cip from 9-15 April.
But wait! It gets better than that.
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The brainchild of three friends who run L'Experimental Group of cocktails and restaurants, this is a place to have fun – the website alone talks about the “hedonism like no other” of the city, and promises “liveliness over nostalgia” for the rooms. Their ideal guest? The “cultivated traveler, who knows that the elegance of a sojourn is as much about respect for a cosmopolitan savoir-vivre as it is for the discovery of strong local cultures.” Not quite sure we're cool enough. Et vous?
Paris is in the throes of a hotel building boom with new smaller properties opening up as well as some pretty major overhauls going on. With all this activity, we’d hope to see some reasonable prices in there, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with only one or two exceptions.
The new Meliá Paris La Défense, open for only ten days, may just be the answer if you’re looking for a nicely designed hotel at a good rate. The catch, though, is that it’s not in the epicenter of Paris’s museum and historical area but, rather, in the heart of the city's business district. If you’re in the city for business this is, of course, rather perfect but if you’re a plucky pleasure traveler the metro is oh-so-close, meaning right across the street from the hotel.
The hotel is a biggie (in fact it’s the largest four-star to open in the French capital in ten years) with 369 rooms and suites spread out over 18 floors (on the 19th floor is the fitness center and Skyline Lounge). Designed in the shape of a sail by Vasconi Architects in partnership with French interior designer Jean-Philippe Nuel, the brainchild behind the high-profile revamp of Paris’s iconic Molitor Swimming Pool, the hotel gives you a bird’s eye view over Paris.
Today we have a before and after with a twist for you: rather than a straightforward out with the old, in with the new, we’re starting with a vintage photograph of the elaborate Le Grand Salon at what was then Hotel Terminus in Paris. Check out the lions guarding the tiered staircase, the pillars and arches, and those chandeliers.
First opened in 1889 for the Exposition Universelle (the World Fair that also saw the creation of the Eiffel Tower), its location next to Gare St. Lazare (and in fact, physical attachment to – more on that in a second) made it the ideal choice for those coming in on long-distance trains from the coast. Over the years, as these stories often go, things were painted or plastered over, boarded up, or otherwise altered.
New ownership coming in at the end of December meant a cash injection of $50 million, as well as a change in management from Concorde Hotels to Hilton. Officially reopened as the Hilton Paris Opera at the end of January (when we first fell in love with it), here is what Le Grand Salon looks like today.