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Hôtel de Nell, Paris

Elegant design, five-star service and Japanese-style soaking tubs make this minimalist hotel a quiet oasis within the clamor

by Nara Shin
on 29 May 2015
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When traveling through a destination city full to the brim with expectations, stumbling upon a hidden gem is extra special—and extra rewarding. That's exactly the feeling after a stay in Hôtel de Nell, located in the residential-feeling 9th arrondissement of Paris—across the street from the 19th century church and on the same block as the French national drama academy. Just two years old, the 33-room boutique hotel flies under the radar of many, but has garnered a loyal clientele who continue to return for several reasons: the quiet ambiance; a long bath in their deep, square marble tubs; and a memorable dinner (and breakfast) at the cozy yet classy in-house bistro, La Régalade Conservatoire (by chef Bruno Doucet, who runs two other successful La Régalades).

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The check-in area feels more like a library room, and the attentive staff behind the desk—or table, rather—set the tone for the rest of the stay: personalized, relaxed five-star service without the stuffiness. As you enter the room, soft, neutral colors (with an occasional pop of deep blue) from the natural materials have a soothing effect on the eyes. The curtains, for example, are the same shade as the wall, so they smoothly blend in. It's all the work of master of light and lines, Jean Michel Wilmotte—the French architect and designer who's left his mark on everything from the Louvre to the award-winning Incheon International Airpot in Seoul as well as Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum.

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The best-kept secrets in Hôtel de Nell are its ritual-beckoning bathrooms. Some 17 of the 33 rooms (note that you'll have to reserve at least a Deluxe room to score one) have deep-soaking Japanese baths cut from a block of solid raw marble—with a seat made of beautiful Oregon myrtlewood. Light the prepared candle, set up the Bluetooth speaker and recover from walking all day and night on those cobblestone streets. For those who are going for efficiency, the minimalist Italian shower will more than suffice.

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Book a stay at Hôtel de Nell with convenience via Design Hotels. For those who will be celebrating something special, we recommend upgrading to the Prestige Room; the upper floor rooms feel like a private Parisian apartment, with three sets of French windows and access to a beautiful terrace. Choose between a view of the church or a view of the historic bank building.

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Images by Nara Shin

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