Hotel Review: Hotel Providence, Paris
Paris is cool again, according to Susan Gough Henly, who Checks into Hotel Providence in the heart of the action. From the moment we arrive at Hotel Providence, on cobblestoned rue René Boulanger in the hip 10th arrondissement, we are entranced. Wrought-iron balconies dot a cream limestone building adorned with delicate carvings. Metal tables and wicker chairs grace a tree-dotted terrace shaded with green awnings.   And just inside, a crackling fire warms a lobby cosy with leather smoking chairs and sink-into-me couches.   There are those who describe Paris as a museum piece with none of the edginess of Berlin or vibrancy of Madrid. They have clearly not spent time in the 10th arrondissement. This former working-class neighbourhood, still rich with immigrant diversity, is now the epicentre of hip and happening Paris.   Tech start-ups and boutique fashion labels perch beside African barber shops, artisan fromagers and hip bars. If you’re young or young at heart this is the place to explore.   Sit next to real Parisians at Melbourne-style cafes while you admire the exquisite symmetry of elegant Haussmann limestone buildings. That’s if you can bear to drag yourself away from the intimate environs of Hotel Providence.   The reception desk is next to the bar, right where I like it, and the very helpful receptionist says those magic words when you arrive before noon: “Yes, your room is available."   There are five categories among the 18 rooms: Mini, Classic, Superior, Deluxe and the top-floor Suite under the eaves of the mansard roof with views all the way to Sacré-Cœur.   Owners Pierre and Elodie Moussié and Sophie Richard have combined sumptuous velour wallpapers from House of Hackney with custom-designed bars (in each and every room) and antique gems from flea markets and second-hand stores that evoke an atmosphere of bohemian chic.   Our fourth-floor Classic room overlooks giant carved cherubs that adorn the theatre across the street. We can watch backstage staff haul up sets with a giant pulley but, we’re more entranced by the marble-topped bar with its antique cocktail shakers, martini glasses and jars of olives.   There’s a smart phone, chock full of insider Paris tips, which you can take with you during your stay. It even includes unlimited local and international calls.   The room, though compact, has oodles of charm, with deep forest-green velour wallpaper, a crystal chandelier, bronze storage rack and a metal-framed frosted-glass bathroom. The bathroom also has a vintage feel with old-fashioned white tiles yet its spacious glass stall complete with rain shower and high-quality toiletries is thoroughly up-to-date.   Come evening, the lobby bar has a warm glow. Locals and hotel guests are sitting at tables inside and on the terrace. We settle in to enjoy tuna tataki and avocado and a smoky roast lamb with an excellent, well-priced Bordeaux. Retiring to our sumptuous boudoir for the evening, in the interests of partial journalistic disclosure, all I can say is that the bedding is so sublime I order the sheets the next day.   Breakfast, which can be delivered to your room or enjoyed in the restaurant, is copious by French standards and includes excellent breads and pastries, cereals, yogurt, fruit and juice as well as hams, cheeses and boil-your-own eggs. Afterwards, we hop on a couple of the hotel’s comfortable bikes to pedal to the Canal Saint Martin. Nearby is one of the finest bakeries in France, Du Pain et Des Idees, as well as Holybelly, which takes its cues from a Melbourne-style cafe, where the coffee is excellent and the food inspired and affordable. Welcome to the new Paris. Details Hotel Providence 90 rue René Boulanger, 75010 Paris, France The IT verdict   Stylish boutique hotel with bundles of charm, perfect for young-at-heart Paris-bound travellers wanting to tap into the city’s design, fashion and tech scene.   Location: 8.5/10   Away from central (read touristy) Paris, the Hotel Providence is in a quiet nook of the uber-hip 10th arrondissement, chockablock with tiny boutiques and cafes.   Style/character: 10/10   Chic, stylish boutique hotel with a lot of attention to detail.   Service: 9/10   Front desk staff excellent. Some waiters could focus on client requests more attentively.   Rooms: 10/10   Whimsical and practical, each room had bucketloads of distinctive charm, plus a private cocktail bar. Bedding is sublime.   Food and drink: 9/10 Excellent expansive breakfast (for France) and an interesting range of tasty, reasonably priced dishes for lunch and dinner. There are plenty of excellent places to eat nearby too, such as Restaurant 52.   Value for money: 10/10 Exceptionally good value for money, especially on weeknights. We paid $338 per night. All IT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.
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Inside the four-person suite at Le Relais Madeleine
Review: Le Relais Madeleine, Paris
Leigh-Ann Pow ignores five-star options and discovers the perfect Paris bolthole worth bragging about. Having the name of the perfect little Parisian bolthole tucked into the pages of your leather address book is the equivalent of liquid gold.   The French capital is renowned for its luxurious five-star establishments (The Bristol, The Plaza Athenee, George V, The Peninsula, The Ritz, need I go on?), any one of which will drain the average bank balance of funds for little more than a two-night stay.   But knowing about a place that has welcoming, familiar service, chic yet unintimidating interiors and a pleasingly reasonable tariff gives you the ultimate in bragging rights: “Oh yes, I have a little place I stay in the 9th Arrondisement that I just adore.” The perfect place for many The four-star Le Relais Madeleine is just such a place, for a romantic couple's trip - or an escape with the girls.   I happened upon it via the web when I needed to book a couple of extra nights’ accommodation after spending a week in a fabulous Airbnb mews house just off the Champs Elysee.   The fact that it looked pretty and that it was available at short notice were the deciding factors; I ignored the comments on TripAdvisor about the sex shop on the corner. [caption id="attachment_21930" align="alignnone" width="668"] The spacious antique writing desk.[/caption] It was only a few nights after all.   I arrive at the unassuming front door of the 19th century building via a typically narrow Parisian street.   I can see the aforementioned sex shop off in the distance, but immediately surrounding the hotel are little tea salons and restaurants and a small super marche (the only place in the whole city I was able to find the Bonne Maman rhubarb preserve my sister had requested I bring home). The reception area Inside the reception area is a charming sitting room complete with overstuffed sofas, wingback chairs and a coffee table festooned with magazines and fresh flowers.   A deliciously scented candle burns on a side table.   Check-in is conducted at an antique desk by a charming, floppy haired young man who explains that breakfast can be taken in the small dining room in the basement, before directing me to the typically bijoux lift (the glass fronting on it does give it more of a sense of space, but during my stay I invariably take the lovely old wood and wrought iron staircase that winds its way up six flights) to the top floor.   There are 23 rooms in all at Le Relais Madeleine, all individually decorated, ranging from singles to superior doubles, as well as a four-person suite which is exactly where I have been directed. The room The room is actually the entire top floor, complete with a separate sauna and pretty terrace. [caption id="attachment_21929" align="alignnone" width="668"] The four-person top floor room is decorated with flamboyant floral fabric on the walls.[/caption] Entering the room I walk into a lovely living area with a sofa (this converts into the second bed in the room), full size antique writing desk and vintage chairs.   The walls are lined in an exuberant floral fabric in shades of cream, burgundy and blue, there are bookshelves lined with cloth- and leather-bound books (some dating back to the early 1800s, along with Dan Brown) and framed vintage prints and artworks dot the walls.   The bedroom, with its cloud soft queen bed, bookshelves and mini-bar — which is amazingly upholstered so as not to disturb the aesthetic of the room — is as light-filled as the living area thanks to generous French windows that can be thrown open to let in the sounds of the city below.   The room is tucked into the eaves of the building, with the slope of the ceiling evident throughout, lending a cosy feel to the generous space rather than making it feel cramped.   And the bathroom is vast by European standards, with a muted palette, separate shower and bath and more light streaming through more French windows. Just try not to go exploring I can’t resist the temptation to go exploring, heading across my own private landing to first unlock the pristine sauna, and then venture out on to the terrace, with its glimpses of the rooftops of Paris.   Further afoot, the location of the hotel is brilliantly central, with the imposing Le Madeleine, the Opera and Place de la Concorde a mere minute or two away, along with shopping and cafes and restaurants and museums in abundance.   (I avoid the sex shop on the corner by simply turning left when I leave the hotel – take that TripAdvisor!)   Le Relais Madeleine is one of four properties under the Le Relais banner, with sister hotels in equally evocative locations throughout the city – Montmarte, Les Halles, Saint Honore and the Louvre – ranging from three to four stars, and each with the same delightful approach to interiors.   In a city where individuality and style are part of the vernacular, the Le Relais group, and the wonderful Le Relais Madeleine in particular, really is worth knowing (and bragging) about.   Details Le Relais Madeleine   11 bis, rue Godot-de-Mauroy, Paris France, THE IT VERDICT   This place is the perfect base in Paris.   You won’t be able to stop crowing to your friends about it. Location = 8/10 Numerous landmarks just moments away, and lots of cafes and shopping nearby make this a quintessential Paris location. Style/Character = 8.5/10 With its charmingly upholstered walls (and bar fridges), vintage books, overstuffed sofas and gorgeous 19th century lines, it’s more stylish than a lot of generic five-stars. Service = 7/10 Discreet and friendly, the front desk staff were always ready to help, arranging taxis and advising on what to see in the vicinity. Rooms = 8/10 Staying in the top suite I got to see the very best, and boy was it good: a pretty room with a soft bed, big bathroom and all the amenities. Value for money =  8/10 I paid $386 for the four-person suite with its sauna and terrace for my exclusive use, which represents pretty good value in my book, especially in a city known for the quality (and price) of its hotels.