Tuesday, December 17, 2013

123 Sébastopol

Have you ever jumped on a bed, flopped around, then wanted to cry, all because it was just so dang comfortable? That's how I felt about the bed in our room at 123 Sébastopol in Paris. Not only was it comfortable, but it was also pretty. When I think of Paris, I think of accordians and mimes, of croissants and cups of thick chocolat chaud. I also think of balconies that open onto the street below and, strangely, of beautiful, grey, oversized headboards exactly like the one pictured above. I was in seventh heaven (and I had John to thank, since he booked the hotel).

Conveniently located in the 2nd arrondissement (just a stone's throw away from the Pompidou Centre and a short walk from everything else), 123 Sébastopol is a quirky, cinema-themed boutique hotel with each floor dedicated to a French celebrity. We were on the second, or Elsa Zylberstein, floor - and because of this, our room had a small ballet barre (in homage to Elsa's classical dance training) and girly touches, like the low-hanging chandeliers and a wicker dress maker's form in the corner. The bathroom, though compact, was lovely: the sink and mirror resembled a trunk and a dressing room mirror, while the glass-enclosed shower made me want to linger there just a tad longer than usual.

The pièce de résistance (sorry, I can't help it, and yes, this is the absolute limit of my French language skills) however, was the hotel lobby's incredible snack bar and complimentary room mini-bar, which was consistently refreshed with soft drinks ranging from Coke Zero to Orangina. 

In case you weren't already full from breakfast (which consisted of cooked options such as scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, and delicious potatoes, as well as patisserie and fresh fruit), the "snack bar" included a beautiful array of macarons, pain au raisin, brownies, melt-in-the-middle chocolate muffins, chips (crisps to you Brits!), crackers, and other snacks, along with a full range of hot and cold drinks. I mean, seriously. After a hard day of shopping - I mean, sightseeing - the snack bar is definitely a sight for sore eyes.

And of course, in following the cinematic theme, the hotel has its own cinema downstairs, where they have timed screenings of movies throughout the day as well as any movie you'd like to watch that's in their library on request. And there's popcorn. Sadly, we didn't take advantage of this because we were too busy drinking carafes of red wine and eating steak frites long into the night, but we did watch several new movies from the comfort of our bed (with my request being Kung Fu Panda 2 - I cried five times - and John's being Senna - you know, the documentary about the F1 driver who was tragically killed during a race. I also cried during this). 

No rock has been left unturned in the hotel's quest to stay true to their movie-fanatic identity: the check-in desk has been designed to look like a box office and you enter via entrances with plush red curtains bearing the Palm d'Or emblem. One almost expects applause and paparazzi when walking through the door and, literally, onto the red carpet. And as cheesy as it sounds, the staff treat you like a celebrity - the total antithesis of Tripadvisor horror stories of upturned noses or arrogance. Here, they smile and greet you with sincerity, always happy to help and to make you feel welcome. 

Needless to say, I didn't want to leave. A dream-like experience and one that I would highly recommend.

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