This is the definition of a small hotel with a big personality. Since its 2015 refurb by hotel interiors veteran Jacques Garcia- the designer behind L’Hotel, Hôtel Costes and New York’s Nomad - La Réserve has received a lot of attention, largely for its Insta-genic entrance. The double-height doorway painted in a deep burgundy lacquer surrounded by nineteenth century Haussmann limestone is now one of the most recognizable in the city. All those likes were validated when it received Palace status (the highest ranking in France) two years after reopening, the smallest hotel in Paris to do so.
Style & Surrounds
The design? The classical splendor of a Louis XVI style interior is what you really want from a top notch hotel in Paris, but all too often the aesthetic is pushed in a direction that ends up a little too moderne (read:gaudy) or overly trad-and-chintzy so as not to scare off the old faithfuls. Marvelously, La Réserve manages to be both over-the-top and refined. The 50 shades of Grenache theme runs from the roses in the lobby, through the corridors to the underground spa, and you get the sense it was very much designed with romance in mind. The lobby is filled with button-back sofas and winged chaises in ruby jacquards and on the walls are matt-black panels with gilded moldings, filigreed fixtures and marble fireplaces.
The scene? This is ultimately a very sophisticated hotel. Women wear heels and men put on a jacket for dinner. It is not a place to be seen. Instead, it has the feel of a private residence or members club. One of the advantages of being small is that the hotel doesn’t advertise its bar as a destination in itself, unlike the newly reopened Hotel de Crillon. So you could actually hear the clinking of the cocktails being assembled.
The dress code? No official code as such. Guests were polished but not flashy, no studded sneakers and scant evidence of anything too logo-heavy.
The surrounds? Next to the Triangle D’Or, the equilateral “golden triangle” formed by the Avenues George V, Montaigne and des Champs-Elysées, the location is hard to beat. A neighbor to Le Bristol and Hôtel de Crillon, the only downside is its proximity to the US Embassy. This meant a constant police presence in the form of armed guards, barricades, and multiple vehicles lining the otherwise charming Avenue Gabriel, and sometimes means that the streets surrounding the hotel are blocked off in the event that an important delegation is on its way.
Day beyond the hotel? The Hermès global flagship and the boutiques of Rue Saint-Honoré are within walking distance. Both Le Grand and Le Petit Palais are around the corner and always have an exhibition of interest. Plenty of high-end, concierge-recommended restaurants are close by but you will need to take a car for 20-30 minutes to reach the city’s new wave of nouveaux bistros which tend to stick to the 10th and 11th arrondissements.
What character from fiction would set up camp here? An actress of the highest esteem and exquisite taste levels such as Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton.
The room: Room 407 was on the fourth floor with a courtyard view. It was decked in masculine shades of brown and gold, with parquet floors topped with tufted white carpets. There was some high-grade tech in the form of a surprisingly user-friendly iPad to control lights and mirror TV but a luddite-friendly separate remote and switches. The bedside tables had discrete charging stations with every fashion of cord and socket from around the globe.
The room type: Given the age and size of the building, the 14 rooms and 26 suites are spacious. The higher floors have slightly lower ceiling heights in typical Haussmanian fashion. The website’s photo gallery doesn’t do the rooms justice, as they appear slightly impersonal on-screen. The finish, however, feels expensive without being garish, with silk wallpapers and velvet bedheads. Great care has been taken to integrate functionality while not compromising on design.
Bolt-hole, palatial or something in-between? Most of the rooms and suites are more than amply sized for a city break in which you will spend most of the day darting around town. For an extended stay, the neighboring apartments which La Reserve owns and operates at the same standard as the hotel (but Garcia didn’t design) could be a better option.
Room with a view? The most privileged rooms and suites command views over the Grand Palais, and, over the Seine, the Eiffel Tower. Others, including mine, had views looking onto the internal courtyard, which unfortunately meant a slight lack of privacy when the windows were open.
Tub, towels, and toiletries? The marble clad bathrooms all have heated floors, stand-alone tubs, and a large rain shower with a bench. After a day walking nearly 10 miles and no time for a soak, a seated shower provided some short term relief. The perfectly satisfactory products were hotel branded including an eau de toilette. I’d suggest requesting specific brands in advance if you are extra discerning on this front.
The turndown touches? The fresh white roses on arrival and chocolates from the kitchen were to be expected, but they impressed nonetheless. A thoughtful touch was a postcard left next to my running shoes which provided recommended routes close to the hotel with a small map.
If you could, what would you take home? Each room features a massive mirror with which doubles as a TV. Walking into a hotel room and not being met with a massive flat screen commanding the room makes a huge difference.
Room for improvement? The somewhat absurd Japanese TOTO toilet with an oscillating bidet function labelled as “massage” was a bit de trop.
Lobby, Bar & Amenities
If you weren’t staying here, would you go to the restaurant? Due to the short nature of my stay I didn’t have time to try Le Gabriel which received two Michelin stars in its first year. La Pagode de Cos is its less fussy restaurant which serves French classics including lobster salad and fish of the day. Its dining area spills into the central courtyard in spring and summer.
If you weren’t staying here, would you go to the bar? Yes. But I’d also suggest having a drink in the library which doubles as a cigar room and has service buttons at each table.
The breakfast? At La Pagode de Cos I went for an American breakfast. There was muesli, separate baskets of freshly baked pastries and breads and some fruit with eggs were made to order. Spot on.
Room service I tend to eat out unless staying in a suite but my female butler brought me some champagne on ice on my first evening to share with my guest. Butler service comes as standard with all rooms.
Bring a bathing suit? The subterranean 16 meter pool was quite narrow, more of a lap pool. The 24 hour access to the hammam was a real plus.
Salon, spa and treatments: The spa is open 24-hours and the treatments focus on anti-ageing with Swiss-made “cosmeceutical” products by Nescens, a stem cell technology specialist.
Be warned about: The swimming pool is reserved exclusively for guests over 16 years old.
The Green Card
PRIOR preferences hotels with green credentials who give back in a real way to their communities. The following criteria were modeled in partnership with Bouteco, an enterprise celebrating truly sustainable hotels.
A sustainability manager for the Michel Reybier Hospitality group, which owns five La Réserve properties and six more across France and Switzerland, will start in early 2020 focussing on group-wide initiatives such as reducing the amount of plastic consumed. The group is already phasing out straws from all its bars and restaurants.
The kitchens of Le Gabriel and La Pagode de Cos work with local producers. At La Réserve Ramatuelle, the sister property in the south of France, the group grows two tonnes of vegetables each year.
Address 42 Avenue Gabriel, 75008, Paris, France
Check-in 3 PM
Check-out 12 NOON
Number of rooms 14 rooms and 26 suites
Other amenities Spa treatments are available from 9am—9pm. The bar is open from 7am—1am..
Activities The hotel organizes periodic poetry evenings in the bar and oenology masterclasses which include a wine-paired menu in La Pagode de Clos. A live music brunch is available from 11.30am—2pm on weekends, and afternoon tea is served between 3pm—6pm on weekends.
Restaurant Le Gabriel is open From Monday to Friday and Sunday from 12.30—14.30pm for lunch. And From Monday to Sunday from 7.30—10.00pm for dinner. Le Pagode de Clos is open everyday from midday to 11pm.
Children The hotel states it is designed for young families, and it has a number of connecting rooms but it might be wise to consider the neighboring apartments which are sizeable and more soberly furnished if you’re bringing your brood.