domingo, 16 de mayo de 2010
L'Hôtel 2 Paris -Francia
L'Hôtel, 13, rue des Beaux Arts
On the night of November 29 1900, Oscar Wilde died almost anonymously in this hotel aged 46. It was a tragic ending, after the two-year ordeal in jail that destroyed his health. His wit, however, remained unimpaired to the end, as reflected by his last comment: "I am dying beyond my means".
This note, along with an unpaid bill for Fr 2643.40, now hangs on the wall in his room no 23. Only Robin Ross, his devoted old friend, and "Bosie" Douglas, his demon, attended his funeral and followed his hearse to the Père Lachaise, alongside a handful of the hotel staff who left the note "To our tenant" on the wax bead wreath.
In 1984, another famous guest at the Hôtel, the Argentinian Jorges Luis Borges, left the following written homage: "This hotel ... where one can't find two identical rooms. It seems to have been sculpted by a cabinet-maker." Jean-Paul Besnard, the present owner of l'Hôtel, took the "sculpture" one step further.
For many years, he had dreamt of owning a hotel in his beloved Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood. Thanks to serendipitous timing, this one was put on sale by Monsieur Dubucheron when Besnard was ready to buy it and lavish on it his boundless passion and imagination. As far as romance goes, it has few rivals.
It starts at the reception with the Venus/Cupid emblem. Or rather it starts way back four centuries ago when, legend has it, Queen Margot had a love nest on this site. Today each of the twenty rooms feels like a love nest, whatever its style, whatever its size. They are so eclectic that you'll have to come back many times and try them all out.
Nothing could be further apart than the voluptuous opulence of a 19th-century boudoir that is Room no 54, and the fresh Art Deco Room no 36. The sunny, soft orange hue of the walls and the mirror-covered furniture that once belonged to the celebrated singer Mistinguett make this room a stunning period-piece.
If you want a spectacular view and a fantastic terrace all for yourselves, book Room 62, la Cardinale. The old roofs of Paris and the belltower of Saint Germain will be your backdrop.
The public areas are just as eclectic and include a lobby filled with Jean Cocteau paintings, a cosy library and a wonderful restaurant, Le Bélier. Downstairs, under a romantic vault, you may relax in the smoking room or luxuriate in the jacuzzi or sauna in the fitness club. The well, it is rumoured, was used as a fridge by Queen Margot and her companions when they repaired to this hideaway.
With so much going for the Hôtel, you will not be surprised to find out that it was favoured by the grand and the mighty. Ava Gardner, Marcello Mastroianni, Roman Polanski, Roberto de Niro, and Claudia Cardinale are among those who stayed here.