Paris’s first literary hotel appeals to visitors with a taste for letters

THE Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore is terribly smart. It’s not showy like the Champs Elysees or Rue de Rivoli; it’s a quietly luxurious stretch that’s home to the Hermes and Lanvin flagships, Lancome’s headquarters, the Elysee Paris (the President of France’s home) and more of this ilk.

Just off this most iconic and opulent of Parisian streets sits the Pavillons des Lettres, on the quiet Rue des Saussaies. It’s a small but nearly perfectly formed little five-star hotel. The owners seem to have felt it needed a thrusting theme in order to appeal and they settled on a nice one: letters and literature.

Using each of the 26 letters of the alphabet, the 26 rooms and suites of the hotel pay homage to a different star of French and international literature – from poets to novelists. Decorator Didier Benderli was brought in to give the hotel its literary edge without allowing it to descend into tackiness – and this he does well. My room was dedicated to Cervantes; and there were his works within, as well as quotes on the wallpaper.

The lettering of the walls and the books in the rooms were the main examples of the “lettres” element the hotel so prides itself on. Certainly, there are other reasons to stay here – though if spaciousness is what you’re after, you’re better off with the grander hotels. No: this is a boutique writers’ garret, where rooms are tiny but come with a wonderful view. In mine, a small desk nudged against the window with a view of the Eiffel Tower beyond the roof tops. A tiny balcony would have been a wonderful addition had the weather not been arctic.

The smallness of the place is particularly evident when you step out of the lift a few floors up. You must negotiate single and double steps in a dark hall before getting to your room (it could be dangerous if you were drunk). The original dimensions give a higgledy piggledy feeling to the building that makes the moment you walk into your room all the more satisfying.

Breakfast, served in a tiny but light-filled lounge to the right of reception, is simple and chic: pastry, eggs, cold meats, cheese and coffee. The hotel does not do lunch or dinner but they were happy for us to sit with our laptops in the breakfast area and order coffee after coffee for hours while using the hotel’s wifi. It was most appreciated.

There are amazingly few bells and whistles here: no spa, no dinner, no bar. But for a quiet, comfortable and richly furnished retreat just off the world’s most fashionable street, you could do much worse than opt for this literary spot.

From €300 per room per night, based on two sharing. 12 rue des Saussaies. Tel +33 (0)1 49 24 26 26, pavillonsdeslettres.com

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