Corinne LaBalme checks out the all-new Splendor Hotel , a four-star boutique hotel in Paris with giant holograms above the beds, a white rabbit snoozing on the reception desk and a receptionist who shuffles more than credit cards.
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When Sandra and Jean-Michel Abecassis wanted a makeover for their Right Bank hotel near Parc Monceau, they enlisted Sandrine Alouf, a designer who’d already created hotels where guests can sleep on clouds (Hôtel One By the Five, 2008); play can-can with Moulin Rouge dancers (Hôtel Secret de Paris, 2009); and commune with Piaf, Sartre or Jean Seberg (Hôtel Montmartre Mon Amour, 2012).
A self-styled “atmospherist,” Alouf quickly caught on to her client’s magic mindset and the theme of this, her tenth hotel project, took shape. Why a decorating niche of theme hotels? “Because I’m someone who likes to tell stories,” she said.
The 24 rooms of the Splendor showcase illusions like levitation, card tricks and celestial magic along with a smattering of penthouse rooms dedicated to pioneering mystic/moviemaker Georges Méliès. Each room has a large hologram above the bed, a theme-imprinted carpet and enchanting wallpaper. All the bathrooms are shower-only with handsome tiles and the occasional funhouse mirror. As boutique 4-stars go, rooms, whether used as a single or double, are on the small side, about 160 to 180 square feet. There’s also a delightful little single on the top floor.
All in all, the mood is closer to Houdini than Hogwart’s with a decor in the public areas that features historic posters purchased from Paris’s Magic Museum (see below), a magician’s cape and magic books, and top hats rising with the staircase. While other hotels may have a cat as their mascot, this one has a rabbit, named Pomponnette. And who better to keep a rabbit company than an actual magician as French magician extraordinaire Jack Barlett mans the reception desk.
Splendor Hôtel, 38, rue Cardinet, 17th arrondissement. Tel : 01 46 22 07 73. Metro Maleherbes or Monceau. Since the hotel just opened in October 2013, the launch price is quite reasonable. Inquire about promotional rates.
A magical postscript: Paris’s Magic Museum, Musée de la Magie, where visitors descend into the history of magic, is often forgotten by parents trying to convince their children that seeing the Mona Lisa should be a magical experience. 11 rue Saint-Paul, 4th arrondissement. Metro Saint-Paul or Sully-Morland. Open Wed., Sat. and Sun. 2-7pm and during French school vacations.