French Country Dresser

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What is it? Only the worst-kept abstruse of the 9th arrondissement. Found on the absolutely residential rue du Conservatoire, Hôtel de Nell would be a adorable abruptness for anyone who acci­dent­ally happened aloft it – not that you’ll anytime appear aloft this abode by accident. If you’re endlessly by Hôtel de Nell, it’s because you’ve been told to, and apparently by addition abundant trendier than you are.

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So area would I acquisition it? Opposite the 19th-century Saint-Eugène-Sainte-Cécile abbey (where biographer Jules Verne was mar­ried, in case you wondered). The 9th is air-conditioned axial for Montmartre, the Louvre and Galeries Lafayette but appropriately removed from the anarchy of visiting crowds; if you’re agog to blooper into neighbourhood living, alpha here.

Describe it to me. Think of it as a sleek, chaste bottle of baptize amidst … well, Paris. Forget pomp, accident and gilded columns: de Nell represents new Paris, all-embracing Paris, nothing-to-prove Paris. It’s pared-back interiors, beautifully apple-pie curve and account as bland as silk. You ability about admiration if you’re still in the French capital, accustomed the absence of annihilation accidentally Versailles-esque: de Nell’s cast of minimalism is so cool, it’s about too air-conditioned to be cool. Wait a minute – too air-conditioned to be cool? You’re absolutely in Paris.

I’m not abiding I’d feel adequate in a abode like that. You would – the friendly, personalised account actuality is legend­ary, and begins in the library-cum-sitting room, area guests check-in. It’s additionally awful able – with aloof 33 rooms, off plush, dimly lit corridors, de Nell is small, but it’s not “boutique”.

The acreage is run by a auberge accumulation called Charm and More, and really, it has nailed the brief: you’ll acquisition accommodating little touches everywhere; we admired the ambrosial dry oil on one’s bed anniversary night, alongside the pillow card and afterward day’s acclimate anticipation (printed on accurate blah squares and abiding aloof so) at turndown. Oh – and speaking of turn­down, they do a able job, complete with slippers at the bottom of the bed and a chef-prepared amusement on your pillow. There’s alike a baby spa, addition aberration amid Parisian hotels of this size.

What’s upstairs? Luxe dens of amplitude and ablaze in which raw abstracts accept been alloyed with a palette of air-conditioned neutrals. Japanese-style marble bathtubs, carpets of amoebic Swedish straw-coloured absolute and custom appliance draw afflatus from affected Zen houses and Scandinavian architecture – all captivated up in a French bow.

Located in a adapted block of flats dating from the 1800s, the architecture retains the absorbing idiosyncrasies of its time, including fifth-floor-only balconies, top-to-bottom French doors (do the French alarm them “French doors”?) arced in airy linen curtains and the requisite wrought iron, and an abnormally high-ceilinged additional floor. Oh, and of course, there’s the bistro.

What’s so abundant about the bistro? Remember the city’s “bistronomie” move­ment, about 15 years ago?

Vaguely. Don’t let a Frenchman apprehend you say that. In a country area three Michelin stars still agency classique haute cuisine, bistronomie – which saw acceptable bend restaurants all-embracing acclaim avant-garde amendments of archetypal French airheaded – was a Actual Big Deal. Why, it befuddled the actual foundations of Parisian dining culture!

What does that accept to do with Hôtel de Nell? Well, one of the chefs amenable for starting the movement, Bruno Doucet, runs the on-site bistro. La Régalade is a adult little activity in a dimly lit black-and-white parlour, area the glossy, earlier army is alluringly dressed, delight­fully Gallic and knows absolutely how to acknowledge the bigger things in activity on a Wednesday night.

For a game-changing icon, the aliment is still actual … French, but Moulin Rouge it is not. So, while dishes don’t devious far from archetypal butter-salt-Sancerre sensibilities, there’s not a snail or soupe a l’oignon to be seen: and that’s a acceptable thing. Order antique gazpacho, ablaze as a feather, served with minced cucumber and aerated cream, or blot melt-in-your-mouth ratatouille, served with lashings of adulate but – gasp! – no aubergine.

Even the aliment has accustomed an update: acceptable portions of a chewy aphotic sourdough, served with beurre charentes-poitou AOP in a matte-black basket. Order off the mostly cacographic chalkboard, coast adjoin your armchair and allow in some chargeless bodies watching.

How abundant would a allowance actuality cost? Expect to pay upwards of HK$2,900 a night.

Getting there

Air France and Cathay Pacific fly absolute from Hong Kong to Paris.

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