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TRAVEL

Les Bains, Paris

TRAVEL

Les Bains, Paris

The famed nightclub is reincarnated as a boutique hotel

by Nara Shin
on 22 October 2015

In a city filled with infinite sites to enjoy, it takes a lot for a Parisian hotel room to make you want to stay in—especially one located in Le Marais, the beating heart of the capital. Yet that's exactly what Les Bains has accomplished after a five year transformation.

In its past lives, Les Bains Guerbois was a late 19th century spa and bathhouse (where Proust was a regular), later reincarnated as hedonistic Les Bains Douche in the '70s. Designed by Philippe Starck, the nightclub-with-a-pool was additionally decorated by the likes of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yves Saint Laurent, Grace Jones and David Bowie, until it fizzled out to its ultimate closure in 2010. This summer, the renovated Les Bains quietly debuted a lifestyle experience that encompasses 39 new guest rooms, restaurant, basement club, Turkish baths, concept store and much more.

Les Bains does a commendable job of leaving you to yourself. The dark carpeted hallway, incredibly spacious for a hotel in the center of Paris, leads to the room where custom-designed furniture including red velvet sofas, heated bathroom floors, generously-sized amenities from cult perfumers Le Labo, and lots of shelves and storage await. In a beautiful room with retro touches like this, a minibar almost seems too basic, but we let it slide since the checkered fridge was pretty fun.

The atmosphere is discreet and private; even when you open up the doors to the wood-paneled balcony, the murmured chatter from the courtyard simply adds to it. Because Les Bains is located on such a small street, noise from beyond the hotel rarely penetrates the mood. At the end of the day, with all of these elements, it's that rare kind of hotel room that puts a smile on your face upon your return—especially if you are in one of the upper suites with a private steam room and expansive terrace with outdoor shower.

When you've fully pampered yourself and are ready to leave your hallowed chambers, a plethora of intimate spaces are available for drinking, dancing, mingling—and to be seen. Making a dramatic first impression on the first floor is the restaurant La Salle-à-Manger. Crimson lacquered ceilings so shiny you can make out a mirrored reflection of the bar and tables, a black-and-white tiled dance floor from its past life, specially lined walls to absorb and soften noise, and two courtyards making the space a visual feast in itself. Here, breakfast is served until 3PM and dinner until midnight, very accommodating to late-night revelers. In one corner, a door leads to a private dining room with 50-foot-high ceiling that seats up to 12; it used to be the water tank supplying the historic baths more than a hundred years ago. The otherworldly, other-timely ambience here is unparalleled, and if it doesn't win you over, the bespoke cocktails will.

Other spaces include the Salon Chinois study-lounge (where there's a self-service "Honesty Bar" for guests) and, of course, the updated nightclub. It's now much smaller and located in the basement level—there's still a swimming pool, a tribute to the venue's legacy. But our favorite escape outside of the guest room was sipping on coffee in the apartment-like courtyard.

Across the street from the hotel is its standalone Les Bains boutique, which is worth a visit just to ogle at its stripped down, almost experimental interiors—dreamt up by Paris- and Athens-based design collective DIPLOMATES. Raising the bar on the "hotel gift shop," the concept store features exclusive Les Bains collaborations or offerings from fellow French brands. You'll find Aedle headphones, specialty coffee from Parisian micro-roaster Belleville Brûlerie, La Planche à Roulettes skateboards, artwork on sale from Galerie Jérôme Pauchant, and of course, swimwear.

Check availability and book a room at Les Bains online via Design Hotels; Les Bains is located at 7 Rue du Bourg-l’Abbé, 75003.

Boutique interior image courtesy of Guillaume Grasset, all other images by Nara Shin

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