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The Hotel Bringing Contemporary Flair To The Oldest District In Paris

The Latin Quarter might be known as quintessential Paris, but Hôtel Dame des Arts brings contemporary flair to the district.

In the oldest district in Paris– the place where much of Emily in Paris was filmed and many a selfie was taken – Hôtel Dame des Arts is drawing modish travellers and in-the-know locals thanks to its design-forward decor and sultry restaurant.

The Vibe

The hotel is the brainchild of Parisian-born architect Raphael Navot, who flawlessly blends wood, bamboo, glass and porcelain, boldly playing with texture and light to create an entrance hall akin to a mid-century lair. It’s a feeling that persists throughout the hotel, while never being OTT, and culminates in one of the most impressive rooftops we’ve seen in the French capital. If we told you this artsy enclave was once a Holiday Inn, you’d never believe us. We were particularly charmed by the enthusiastic and friendly staff, who have nailed service par excellence without any of the stuffiness or pomp.

The Rooms

Compact rooms are comfortable and stylish, thanks to curved, wood-panelled walls, bouclé headboards and striking artwork. Alessi kettles and Diptyque Paris toiletries are exactly what we would expect from a hotel that attracts an understatedly cool crowd. Large windows lift a retro colour palette of creams and browns, filling rooms with light. If budget allows, we recommend opting for one of the terrace rooms which have private balconies and uninterrupted views of the Eiffel Tower

The Food + Drink

Head to the ground-floor restaurant for a continental breakfast buffet among fellow guests and next-gen Parisians meeting to chat start-ups over a cafe au lait. It goes without saying that there are fresh pastries galore, as well as an à la carte menu offering all the usual suspects, plus Mexican-style scrambled eggs. If it’s warm enough, the hidden courtyard is a lovely place to start the day surrounded by lush greenery.

Under the watchful eye of head chef Othoniel Alvarez Castañeda, the menu is a take on Mexican cuisine, with French influence and Pan-Asian inspiration. That might sound like a mouthful, but each dish is a triumph. Travel the globe via Breton oysters with blackberries and guajillo-chilli oil, beef tataki, and red-tuna tostadas with chipotle mayo and fried leeks. There are plenty of thoughtful options for veggies, too.

On devouring the genuinely imaginative cocktail list, we weren’t surprised to learn that it was masterminded by Matthieu Alfandari, former director of operations at the Experimental Group. Don’t miss the signature “Uno Mas” – a heady combination of tequila, lime, agave, cardamom and sage. You probably won’t need “uno mas”, but you’ll have one anyway.

The Little Extras

An avant-garde fitness studio is truly a sight to behold, even for those who couldn’t give two hoots about gyms. Situated in the basement, it’s all curved walls, soft light and sleek wooden machines. The sauna is open all day, and there’s also a treatment room offering massages.

The pretty rooftop with incredible 360-degree views of Paris attracts the city’s hot young things who arrive early and stay late. It’s currently one of the city’s best-kept secrets – but hurry, we don’t expect it to stay this way for long. There’s also a sexy cinema where you can arrange private viewings.

The To-Do List

Notre-Dame is a stone’s throw away, as are the Panthéon, the Jardin des Plantes and The National Museum of Natural History. Don’t miss watching a game of pétanque at The Arènes de Lutèce either – this outdoor amphitheatre has been in action since Roman times and is a lovely place to perch with a croque monsieur.

The 5th arrondissement is also home to the Sorbonne University, so you’ll find plenty of student-filled cafés, bookshops and bistros. Place de la Contrescarpe is one of the liveliest outdoor squares and meeting points in the area, and best known as one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite places – it’s a fantastic spot for an apéritif and people-watching.

Finally, we know boat rides can be a bit touristy but a great way to tick off Paris’s highlights is with a leisurely cruise along the Seine. There are two stops to board it in the Latin Quarter; one at Quai de Montebello (in front of Notre-Dame) and one at Quai Saint-Bernard (in front of the Jardin des Plantes). Glide under the city’s gorgeous bridges, jumping on and off the riverboat to view sites such as the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre as you please – much more pleasant than taking the metro.

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