Browsing Tag

Josephine Baker

Hotels, Hotels - Budget, Hotels - Design, Paris

Hotel Josephine, Paris

Hotel Josephine is a charming four-star boutique hotel in Paris, inspired by France’s beloved queen of the Jazz Age, Josephine Baker.

Located on the corner of Rue Blanche in the 9th arrondissement, Hotel Josephine is conveniently close to romantic Montmartre, the Sacre-Coeur, lively Pigalle and the legendary Moulin Rouge.

Josephine Baker once sang ‘J’ai deux amours’ at the Moulin Rouge and made her name performing her famous banana dance at the Folies Bergère, so this quartier really was her own territory.

Boutique Hotel Josephine is cosy and stylish with 41 rooms (10 of which are superior rooms).  The spacious, open-plan lobby and lounge are welcoming and attractive with comfy sofas and fireside armchairs.

There is a bookshelf full of classic and contemporary literature, a chess board and a bar area to really make you feel at home.  The handy business centre opposite the lounge offers use of a computer and printer, plus a coffee machine for complimentary hot drinks.

Interior designer Julie Gauthron perfectly captures the bohemian spirit of this historically rebellious neighbourhood with vintage-inspired prints, sepia-toned colours, pretty ornaments and photographs of decadent times gone by.

Our Standard Double Room on the first floor was petite and homely with lots of character.  It’s the kind of quirky room in which Montmartre resident Amélie Poulain might sleep.  In fact, I was almost expecting the people in the photographs adorning the walls to come alive and start speaking to us.

The room was designed in bold purple and red shades with attractive clashing prints on the walls, headboard and retro wardrobe and a number of black and white photographs of scenes from Paris cabarets.  Room features include an LCD TV, a simple desk with painted wooden chair and a little stool, a vintage-style phone, good air-conditioning, free wifi and a tea and coffee maker (a rare amenity in Paris).

There is also a Haussmannian juliette balcony, so you can open the windows and take in the atmosphere of busy rue Blanche below.  A copy of Numéro was provided for stylish bedtime reading and there was a set of Hotel Josephine branded stationery for old fashioned correspondence and note-taking.

The queen-size bed was very comfortable and I had a fantastic, uninterrupted night’s sleep, despite being so close to the street on the first floor.  The bed linen and plump pillows were excellent and I loved the lace-effect cushions.

The small bathroom was designed in dark red and maroon shades and the shower lined with tiny irridescent mosaic tiles had impressively powerful water pressure – I found it particularly blissful after a long day of travelling by plane.  It took me a while to realise, but the bathroom can be sectioned off by a red opaque sliding door, offering just enough privacy.

The hotel standard bathroom products were uninteresting and there was no conditioner provided – some lovely branded products such as L’Occitane, REN or Molton Brown would be a better fit.

Hotel Josephine doesn’t have a restaurant, but there is a wealth of excellent restaurants and bars in the hip South Pigalle (SoPi) neighbourhood.  That evening, we went to the brasserie at nearby Hotel Amour for dinner and enjoyed a late-night Kir on the terrace of Le Mansart, a cool bar just a few steps away from the hotel.

Also worth trying while staying in the area are NYC-Paris ‘gastrotheque’ Buvette, creative cocktail bar Glass and low-key burger bar La Maison Mère.

In the morning, we enjoyed a continental buffet breakfast in Hotel Josephine’s arched vaulted cellar.

The breakfast was plentiful and varied, including scrambled eggs, sausages, croissants, pain au chocolat, brioche, baguette, cold meat, cheeses, cereal, granola, yoghurts, fresh fruit, a selection of Tropicana juices and my favourite French apple compote.  I loved the fresh, flaky pastries served with every possible flavour of Bonne Maman jam or marmelade in mini pots – the perfect way to start the day in Paris.

Espresso-based coffees are available on request and tea and coffee are also self-service, so there’s no need to wait for a hot drink.

The weather wasn’t on our side during our stay in Paris, but luckily Hotel Josephine has a stack of branded umbrellas for guests to use in the lobby – a very thoughtful touch.  Of course, the bad weather didn’t stop us from exploring Paris, as tempting as it was to cosy up in the lounge.

Hotel Josephine is a delightful, creative hotel that offers a glorious, rose-tinted view of northern Paris.  The design and small touches throughout the hotel really revive the glamour of Josephine Baker’s world.  Plus, the location is unbeatable if you’re looking for a fun, energetic short break in Paris.

Rooms at Hotel Josephine start at €170 during low and mid season and from €250 during high season.  For more information and booking, visit: www.hotel-josephine.com 

Chérie City was invited by Hotel Josephine

Photos by Chérie City

Hotels, Hotels - Design, Hotels - Luxury, Paris, Restaurants

Lunch At La Cuisine, Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris

Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris offers a new interpretation of luxury in the city, reviving a famous historic hotel and incorporating Philippe Starck’s artistic vision.  Located in a well-heeled part of town, the hotel is just a short walk from the Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe and the beautiful Parc Monceau.

The monumental five star Royal Monceau opened in 1928 and was reborn as part of the prestigious Raffles group with a brand new ‘Starck look’, in late 2010.  Over the years has attracted an impressive roll call of celebrities, artists and dignitaries including Coco Chanel, Josephine Baker, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill and more recently Robert De Niro, Madonna and Sofia Coppola.

The hotel’s investment in contemporary art and culture is unrivaled, with its own ‘Art District’ gallery hosting regular exhibitions and a special Art Concierge to connect guests with the Paris art scene.  There are a number of pieces by renowned artists throughout and it also runs the very cool blog, Art For Breakfast.

I visited Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris for a leisurely lunch at the main restaurant, La Cuisine, by Executive Chef Laurent André.  The Jura-born chef began his career under the tutelage of three Michelin star chef Alain Chapel, followed by a number of years with the legendary Alain Ducasse in Paris, London and Hong Kong.  He also oversees hotel’s Italian restaurant Il Carpaccio and lighter dishes at Le Bar Long.

La Cuisine continues the exquisite design of the Lobby with high ceilings leading the eye up towards a striking ceiling fresco named ‘Jardin à la française’ by Stéphane Calais.  The large dining room features central tables with cosy leather banquettes and semi-private tables closed off by sheer white curtains (a Philippe Starck signature).  The walls are adorned with intriguing contemporary artworks and the cabinets feature china plates decorated by celebrities and artists who have dined there.

We were seated at a table close to the attractive open kitchen surrounded by hundreds of Murano glass bottles, where we could observe chef Gabriel Grapin meticulously adding the finishing touches to the dishes.  We were promptly served freshly-baked bread and butter and a bottle of ice cold still water.  The lunchtime crowd was a mostly business types, friends catching up and a few families with young, well-behaved children.

I started with the Brittany Crab – light jelly, avocado cream and warm royal emulsion (€29).  The crab was served in a glass verrine and resembled a colourful, well-manicured garden.  The bottom layer of flaky, meaty crab was deliciously fresh and covered with smooth, cool and creamy avocado puree.  It was finished with crisp julienne vegetables including carrots, beetroot and yellow pepper with a thin apple fan.  The warm layered crab jelly and mousse was airy and souffléed with a strong seafood flavour and a light foam.

Steven ordered the Mackerel marinated in white wine with Pissaladiere garnish (€25).  The mackerel was presented two ways – shredded and mixed with a light dressing and topped with a garden of greenery, and cooked rare and served on a thin tart base with slithers of red pepper, onion and black olives.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to take photos at La Cuisine, so the images featured are examples of other dishes on the menu.

Before our main courses arrived, we were presented with a smart box of knives to choose from; we both opted for ‘The Porsche’, a light-weight, streamline steel knife that resembled a weapon from the Matrix (the desired Starck effect, of course).

I was tempted by the Beef Fillet from Normandy sprinkled with farm bacon – baked potatoes, romaine salad and souffléed potatoes (€46).  The thick, plump fillet of beef was succulent, lean and nicely charred on the outside with a juicy pink centre.  The baked potatoes were soft and flavoursome and topped with a puffed potato crisp and slim curls of bacon.  The romaine ‘salad’ was just two really tiny yet perfectly formed leaf and the rich jus finished the dish nicely.

Steven ordered the Roasted saddle of lamb from Lozère – shallots marmalade, stuffed macaronis pasta (€39).  The lamb was served perfectly pink and rolled with a rich herb stuffing.  A row of hearty macaronis were stuffed with bone marrow and the dish was finished with soft, braised fennel and a meaty jus.

I was delighted to see that desserts are by the ‘Picasso of pastry’ Pierre Hermé – a perfect match for the sophisticated luxury of La Cuisine.  I ordered Pierre Hermé’s signature cake, Ispahan – rose macaron biscuit, rose petal cream, fresh raspberries and lychees (€16).  The macaron-based cake was beautifully presented with delicate, fragrant and fresh flavours.  The macaron was topped with a rose petal and liquid sugar tears – simply stunning and very Parisian.

Steven went for the Baba au Rhum – brioche dough moistened with old dark agricultural rum and Chantilly cream (€16).  Our waitress drizzled the 15-year old aged rum over the Baba at the table and generously asked him to say when she had poured enough – a nice touch.  Pierre Hermé’s Baba is a classic done well and the rum had lots of character, complimenting the brioche well.

La Cuisine is the perfect spot in Paris for a chic, memorable lunch, as it offers innovative food in a relaxed, inspiring environment.  Staff are warm, friendly and attentive, providing exceptional yet unpretentious service.  In the warmer months, dine in the Terrace Garden under parasols around the glass pond directly above the swimming pool and spa.  Members and guests staying in the Presidential suites can hide away with a Havana or Montecristo cigar in the new private Viñales Club.

Until the end of December, renowned Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his team bring revolutionary Japanese gastronomy to La Cuisine with à la carte dishes and Omakase (the traditional Chef’s Choice tasting menu).  Le Bar Long is also serving Asian-inspired cocktails and sake specially imported from the Hokusetsu House brewery on the northern Japanese Isle of Sado.

Before leaving, linger a little longer and explore La Librairie des Arts bookshop offering limited edition books, artefacts. books, prints and jewellery.  Another must see at the hotel is Le Royal Eclaireur, a special outpost of Armand Hadida’s petite group of Paris concept stores selling niche designer pieces in an imaginative setting.

For more information and booking, visit: www.raffles.com/paris

Chérie City was a guest of Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris

All images by Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris

Concerts, Events, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, News

Stompin’ At The Savoy With Paloma Faith

This month sees the return of the world famous Stompin’ At The Savoy, the iconic and glamorous evenings of live music at the decadent London hotel.

Stompin’ At The Savoy has played host to musical legends such as Josephine Baker, Frank Sinatra, George Gershwin, Noel Coward and Amy Winehouse and was name-checked in Chic’s ‘Le Freak’.

For the relaunch of Stompin’ At The Savoy, the stunning Lancaster Ballroom will be transformed into an intimate late-night supper club from the 1940s and who better to bring the jazz spirit back to The Savoy than Paloma Faith!

Paloma will perform with the 30-piece Guy Barker orchestra and will be joined by special guests to be announced on the night.

Guest will start the evening with a glass of champagne and once seated, cocktails and a late night supper menu will be served throughout the evening.

Stompin’ At The Savoy is set to bring back a bit of swinging, old-world cachet to the legendary hotel, making it once again the most decadent jazz haunt in town.

Stompin’ at The Savoy, produced by Three’s A Crowd, will take place at The Savoy on Saturday 29th October from 10pm until late. Tickets are priced from £125 and can be booked by telephoning 0845 177 0181. Full details are available at www.stompinatthesavoy.co.uk

Take an inside look at The Savoy on Chérie City.