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LUXURY HOTELS: Murano Urban Resort, Paris, france
Style: Space age white meets Andy Warhol
Scene: Wrong end of Marais but close to the cult cool of Canal St Martin
Seen in the lobby: Black, black and more black
There is no porte cochere (grand entrance) to distinguish it from any other business building in the long row; no mention of the word hotel. A single line of silver letters discreetly spells out its moniker. Murano prefers to keep itself secret for the chosen few.
Set along the broad, busy boulevard du Temple at the République end of the fashionable Marais district, Murano Urban Resort rises from the ignominy of its 19th-century pale cement facade. Sliding glass doors open to an all-white corridor lined with floaty curtains, sculpted globules of mirrored glass and metallic silver chairs. I am instantly transported into a twilight zone of Barbarella meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. To the right is ground control, manned by two men in a see-through cubicle tapping at laptops, a white Mies van der Rohe guest banquette in front. At the end of the corridor, a four-metre-long white Chesterfield has been placed in front of a cut-out rectangular fireplace that matches its length with glowing embers that hover in space. Either side of the Chesterfield, cult German Phoenix Klangschalen stereo speakers stand Dalek-style murmuring something cool and jazzy. Metallic-edged side tables and pods of white seats resembling Saarinen's modernist tulip chairs complete the smouldering sexiness of a retro-futuristic scene that would have sated Vadim and Kubrik.

murano lobby
murano lobby
murano exterior
murano bathroom
murano bar
murano restaurant

I am asked for my fingerprints. For a moment I consider the implications, then surrender to high-tech glamour. The 43 rooms and nine suites of this boutique hotel are keyless: the first hotel ever to opt for digit recognition.

Murano is a member of Design Hotels and it is easy to see why. My guide leads me inside a lift. Its walls are lined with lipstick-pink fur. As the doors open I realise I'm now in Lenny Kravitz's Miami Pad. The corridors are rock-star dark, lit only by spikes of ultra-blue light. The walls are a trompe l'oeil of padding. I press my finger against a pad and a door that I last saw on a 1950s fridge opens to a spectacular white cube.

A Warhol-esque picture of Marilyn's face at the peak of something pleasurable hangs suggestively above the bed. Sheer curtains drip in front, delineating her from the great mounds of white pillows that dominate the grand proportions of the crisp white bed. At its base is a flower-printed silk chest of drawers. Covered in glass, it could double as a brilliant bedside dining table for room service, which caters for anything from luxe caviar to a ham baguette.

My toes sink into soft white carpet as I pad around in search of the mini-bar. For a moment I don't spot it: a little moulded metallic box that could easily pass for a chic stool. I fiddle with the panels beside the bed and lights whirr into action, transforming the room with soft shades of rose, amber, violet, turquoise, green and blue. Unable to choose a colour to match my mood, I settle on a slow random shuffle.

Don't ask me about gizmos, I am technologically challenged, but this room is wall-to-wall WiFi, with plasma screen and Bang & Olufsen sound. Murano purports to be designed for the business traveller, with its central location and anything-anytime service, including a private pool if you choose one of two deluxe suites. But what with the lights, 'the sensual eye mask for lovers' and the slate-and-chrome bathroom built for two, anything entirely left-brain has probably flown out the window.
...Saarinen's modernist TULIP chairs complete the smouldering sexiness of a retro-futuristic scene that would have sated VADIM and KUBRICK.

The last I spent any time in the Marais, it was on the brink of registering on the fashion crowd's radar, and a French director who lived here in a crumbling apartment spent hours passionately bleating that all women are les anges. The French are good at that. I am remembering this now, lost in the depths of the enormous Zen-style bath and a delicious dollop of Anne Sémonin product - a singular slice of heaven.

Back on ground level in the restaurant I note that word of Murano has been most strongly whispered to the fashion and film set. The crowd is uniformly lean, leggy and clad in black. Beneath the spectacularly long stalactites of ice glass that jut from the ceiling, they eat equally edgy Mediterranean food that dabbles in Asia, often served on slate tiles.

In the bar, wearing black makes even more sense. It blends beautifully with the unexpected explosion of brilliantly clashing brights - orange, pinks, blues and burgundy - ranked along walls in cushioned squares and hanging from the ceiling in clusters of coloured saucers. A DJ marshalls the music to match the mood from his command post high above, but it's the 20-metre-long black bar serving 150 brands of vodka to a backdrop of screens dripping sea-like designs that has the crowd. They sip from test tubes arranged in holders containing selections of flavours such as pimento and ginger, and Cognac, sugar and lime.

I slip back out into the white room, where the long Chesterfield is an oasis of calm beneath its glass ceiling. In bed, I spy the same galaxy of stars across chimney rooftops. All gizmos have been shut down, save for the swoop of a searchlight across the sky from the Eiffel Tower. I'm in Paris.

Check in: Murano Urban Resort, 13 boulevard du Temple, 3e, +33 (0)1 42 71 20 00,
Ultimate Luxury: Sampling your way through the 130 types of vodkas.
Most Indulgent Moment: Room service caviar and champagne at 3am
Insider Secrets: The Teziano Suite has a private heated swimming pool.
The Little Things: Mobile phone rental, chauffeur airport transfers, small furry pets welcome.
Junior Luxies: Are you kidding?
Dress code: Black and skin tight. Think plunging necklines, skinny jeans and stiletto ankle boots.
Perfect luggage: Gucci in classic black.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link: www.muranoresort.com

Prue Rushton 13/3/10

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