Inside the stately Haussmann-era façade of what was once the private residence of the Duchess of Rivoli, Princess Essling, is a stylish boutique hotel whose whimsical interior design is as intelligent and innovative as it is comfortable and luxurious. La Maison Champs-Elysée, which opened on a quiet street in the heart of Paris’s famed triangle d’or in 2011 is the first hotel project by Belgian fashion brand Martin Margiela. Margiela, who previously worked for Jean-Paul Gautier and Hermès, has outfitted the hotel’s common areas, as well as seventeen Couture Suites, with an eclectic, but elegant, mix of classical 19th century French décor—gilded mouldings, ornate mirrors, and a grand staircase have been painstakingly restored to their original glory—and au courant design elements ranging from edgy contemporary art and concept furniture to state-of-the-art technology (there is Wi-Fi as well as a new iMac in every Couture Suite.)
Elements of trompe l’oeil appear throughout the hotel in a variety of subtle and striking ways. For example, the lobby’s White Lounge has been wallpapered with a to-scale black-and-white photographic replica of the baroque Second Empire salon on the hotel’s 2nd floor. The overall effect is playful yet sophisticated—a grown-up Lewis Carol adventure that begins the moment you enter the lobby and notice that the traditional cabochon floor tiling appears to have been swept askew, as if by a great gust of wind, and continues to unfold throughout the hotel, including into La Table du Huit restaurant where the dining chairs seem to hover several inches off the ground.
The Margiela-designed suites are the reason to stay at La Maison Champs-Elysée. Here you will feel like you are sleeping in a stylish friend’s fabulous guest room. Each spacious suite is distinctively styled with an impeccably edited mix of charming oddities—a floor lamp made from an oversized wine bottle, for example—and witty design references like Philippe Bestenheider’s ‘lui 5’ high-backed wicker armchairs. For art lovers, the dark and sultry lounge/office area of the “Curiosity Case” suite showcases a curated selection of contemporary artworks by emerging artists represented by hip Parisian galleries such as Kamel Mennour and Galerie Crèvecoeur. For those looking for brighter and more soothing surroundings, the “Interrupted Mouldings” suite is an airy white sanctuary subtly adorned with quintessential French moldings that start and stop at odd intervals all along the walls.
Who Should Stay: High rollers, contemporary art/fashion aficionados, those looking for trendy style near the Champs-Elysée, and history buffs (the townhouse once belonged to Princess Essling and later acted as a meeting place for students of the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, where Gustave Eiffel, André Michelin, and Peugeot studied).
Who Should Not Stay: Bargain hunters, classical French décor purists.
What’s nearby: Grand Palais, Petit Palais, Champs-Elysée, Arc de Triomphe, “Golden Triangle” shopping, Christie’s, galleries in the 8th