Openings: Hotel Les Deux Gares Paris
Though a sunny springtime walk across the Pont Neuf is one of our favorite things to undertake anywhere, there is something about an overcast, breezy autumn Paris morning that still captivates us in a most ineffable way. So as November approaches without an end in sight to the soul-crushing European/American travel bans, we can’t help but feel a sense of longing to be strolling the City of Light’s leaf-strewn boulevards.
The arrival of the first images of the impossibly charming new Hotel Les Deux Gares, however, genuinely gives us something to hope for. The intriguing name actually refers to its proximity to both the Gare de Nord and Gare de l’Est rail stations (we might have thought to call it Gare à Gare—Station to Station—but obviously it’s not our hotel…), and its location in the heart of the 10th arrondissement also means it sits in picturesque strolling distance from all the trendy nightlife goings on around the Rue Oberkampf.
The story goes that Touriste Group founder Adrien Gloaguen, along with friend Antoine Raccat, happened upon on abandoned building located down an alleyway in the 10e. Imagining the restoration as a hotel that ideally embodies the vibrancy of ’60s/’70s boho aesthetics, they recruited rising young British artist Luke Edward Hall, and set to work on conceptualizing the resulting colorful interiors.
Their goal was to conjure something distinctly “anti-modern.” And what resulted is certainly not going to win any awards for restraint or minimalism. Rather, the reception area is characterized by emerald green walls, baroque kitsch wall coverings, a black & white chevron marble floor, and drapes and furnishings that nod gently to Empire Style opulence (sort of like a less plush Jacques Garcia). Cocteau, Warhol and Hockney exhibition posters confirm their excellent taste in modern and contemporary art.
The 40 rooms are each like a little journey through all of Hall’s wildly criss-crossing inspirations, with boldly-striped headboards, fringed yellow velvet chairs (Why not?), and strikingly-brightly-tiled bathrooms. Even the small fitness room is done up in a sort of psychedelic-floral Svenskt Tenn custom wallpaper, and boasts a red & white checked floor (Again, why not?).
“I always begin my projects by leafing through old books and magazines,” Hall explains. “Then I visit galleries and museums. I allow myself the time to dream and invent stories. Design can often be something very serious, whereas I want my work to convey joy.”
Speaking of joy, directly across the street is the hotel’s pithily named Cafe Les Deux Gares, an absolutely picture perfect embodiment of everything you always imagined a French cafe should be—with its handcrafted metal bar and Deco style wall lights. But look closely and you’ll notice a few more eccentric touches, like the tortoiseshell motif ceiling by painter Pauline Leravaud.
Fittingly, former Sauvage chef Jonathan Schweizer approached the menu with a similar sense of whimsy.
“Here, you won’t find a spritz or a cheese board; instead, you’ll have whelks and mayo, coleslaw, lovage sorbet and, because we’re across the street from the station, a good sauerkraut.”
And frankly, a lovage sorbet sounds unbelievably perfect right about now.