Hotel Saint Vincent
Writes Frances Schultz, who visited Paris with her niece, Ruth (read her Postcard), in summer 2010:
“Situated on the tiny and quiet rue du Pré aux Clercs, between the Rue Jacob and Boulevard Saint Germain, the Hotel Saint Vincent is a lovely old bourgeois Parisian mansion whose gracious and intentionally living-room-like lobby has comfortable sofas and chairs surrounding a fireplace. On the large coffee table is an arrangement of plants and stone objets that could only have been done by a Frenchman (or woman), and don’t ask me to explain that. The feeling overall is relaxed and stylish— a low-key elegant Napoleon III translated for today.
In the mornings a small dining room with windows onto the street bustles with breakfasting guests and a rather harried but genteel waiter straight from Central Casting. You may also take breakfast in your room, which we usually did. (Same waiter. No wonder he was thin.) In the afternoons a drinks cart amply stocked rests opposite the concierge’s desk, a welcome gesture after a long day’s shopping, sightseeing, and deciding whether to have a go at the public sidewalk toilette or hold out for a more conventional option.
I had a nice chat with the handsome and energetic proprietor Bertrand Plasmans, and am pleased to report he claims no interest in having his hotels be the hottest or the coolest spots in town. He wants them gracious and comfortable, “as if you are in someone’s home,” says he. Plasmans owns also the two contiguous hotels, the Saint Thomas D’Aquin, which is a bit simpler in décor and less expensive; and next door to that the venerable Hotel Lenox, on the corner of Rue de l’Université, and in whose classic little Art Deco lounge I once smoked cigarettes and listened to jazz with an old beau. All three hotels are newly renovated under Plasmans’ tasteful eye, with the Lenox’s final touches set to be in place by fall.
The Saint Vincent’s 22 rooms range from “standard” with queen bed; to “superior” with twins or a king bed; to “suite.” The hotel was fully booked during our stay and I was unable to see other rooms, but each is decorated differently, some with their original fireplaces and exposed beams. Ours had a little balcony from which to shout “bonjour!” to passers-by, which of course I did mainly to re-assure my sweet, shy niece that her enthusiastic and hopelessly un-cool auntie was not going to falter simply by being upon foreign soil. The room was on the small side by American standards but the bathroom was plenty big for both of us to maneuver in, albeit with one sink. All rooms have mini-bars and free wireless, and the hotel is air-conditioned. Rooms from $318.