The Luxury Travel Bible - LUXURY HOTELS: Hotel Le Notre Dame, Paris

LUXURY HOTELS: Hotel Le Notre Dame, Paris, France
Style: Lacroix sits in a (relatively) sober, reverential pew at Notre Dame but he still can't help romancing the stone.
Scene: About as front row sleep to The Notre-Dame and the Seine as it gets.
Seen in the Lobby: Members of the chic fashion set and the surprised faces of travellers who visited the hotel before Lacroix's re-invention.

Through many of the windows, the squat, Gothic turrets of Notre-Dame stare back at you like a beautiful, lonely widow. The Seine runs by her feet in flowing curves. It is a perfect, aching backdrop for a man with a passion for theatre, and designer Christian Lacroix has played it out exquisitely.

The building encasing Hotel Le Notre Dame has its own 400 year old history that lends itself to the scene. Rather than being equipped with soaring ceilings, and grand proportions, it is more like a modest, lady-in-waiting. Or rather, perhaps it was, before Lacroix started rustling away beneath her petticoats.

view of notre dame
view of notre dame
hotel le notre dame
bedroom, hotel le notre dame
seating area
christian lacroix design


Much of what seems soberly reverential here turns out to be a trick of the eye. Flooring sometimes appears like cobbled stones; instead it is soft, sensual carpet. Look closely at tableaux and naughty nymphs are at play.

Lacroix is majestic in his ability to bring together layers rich with colour, jewel-like details and textures to create a fantasy flight of romance. He has also shown how he can transport his designs from fashion into an epic experience. More than this being tokenistic, he captures the essence of wherever he is. In the design of his first Parisian hotel, Le Petit du Moulin,  each room spun delightfully around the many moods of the Marais. Here, in Le Notre Dame, his third luxury hotel following Le Bellechasse, Lacroix explores the poetry of Notre-Dame's gothic grandeur without losing his own lyricism.

Six 'ambiances' flow through the hotel's 26 rooms, from the mystical to the courtly to the heavenly divine. Lacroix's idiosyncratic wallpapers feature - at times rigorously baroque in black and white at others glorious explosions of colour and often, in corners, daubed with a small collection of photos of the frolics and eccentricities of contemporary people or icons. Cowhide wallpaper is just another of Lacroix's unexpected quirks. It is as if Lacroix is exposing the inner emotional world of the stone-façed 'woman' the hotel looks out upon.

Never does this seem more apparent than sitting in the small L-shaped salon lounge. Medieval-style wallpaper in neutral marries your eye out to Notre-Dame's intricate façade, but here the world turns from monastic to colour with plush chairs in rich velvet brocades of gold, royal blue, ruby, emerald and purple, while the floor is bright with thick woven tapestry. The salon offers a light breakfast such as croissant and coffee. A small bar here serves drinks worthy of sitting here to stare out at the divine. Mostly, however, the lavish surrounds of your location urge you to get out and explore its old Parisian heart - Saint Chapelle awaits you too.

Walk along the Seine and explore second-hand booksellers. Pick up a collection of the works of Rimbaud and return to your room. Here, lying beneath the wooden beams that cling to the ceiling, yes, it is Lacroix who provides the passionate setting, but it is this vagabond poet who can provide the words to match this sublime. Lovers, read aloud.

Check in: Hotel Le Notre Dame, 1 Quai Saint-Michel, 75009 Paris, France. Tel: +33 (0) 1 43 54 2043
Ultimate Luxury: Imported Italian showers. The three split-level suites on the top floor of this boutique hotel have a bed on one level and a small sitting room on another.
Most Indulgent Moment:  Flinging open the windows (despite any bustling traffic below) and staring straight into the beauty of Our Lady. Room service does offer drinks so make sure you order your best choice Champagne.
The Little Things: There are WiFi and flat screens offering international channels, but if you truly want to take in the best of the little things comb your eye over the many tender intricacies to be found in Lacroix's wallpapers.
Junior Luxies: Sorry little sweets, these luxury hotel suites are made for grown-up romance.
Dress code: Duchesse satins in jewel-rich colours. Gents, if you've ever felt like having an Oscar Wilde moment, here's the place to try it on.
Perfect luggage: Stiff leather suitcases with brass corners or something monogrammed.
Dent in the platinum:
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Photo Credit: Hôtel Le Notre Dame Paris -
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