Us British do love a trip to Paris.
If the US is across the pond, then France is merely over the stream from the UK. I spent most summers of my childhood in either northern France – Brittany, Normandy and the south, enjoying what Nice and Cannes had to offer. Paris was something that I left a little later – not visiting until I was 16, although I’ve been back several times since. The travel links from London are second to none, and on this occasion we had reason to stay in Paris for just one night, ahead of our trip east to Metz.
We flew into the city, which I’ve not done before – taking a coach and the Eurostar on my previous trips. Landing in Paris Orly, we got the OrlyExpress train and metro to reach Gare du Nord around 11am on Tuesday morning. Our hotel was in the Montmatre area, famous for the Moulin Rouge and the Sacre Coeur nearby. Montmatre is a hilly area in the north of the city, well known for being the most romantic part of Paris – it’s certainly picturesque, with it’s steep winding alleyways and quintessentially Parisian cafes. Yes Pigalle, the area at the bottom of the hill, is traditionally known for sleaze but in recent years the area has become more attractive to younger crowds, demonstrated by the calibre of shops and eateries.
The lively Rue des Abbesses is home to Hotel Basss. Right in the heart of Montmartre, just 2 minutes from Abbesses metro station, our home for the night stood discreetly amongst the buoyant shops and cafes. Hotel Basss is a boutique hotel – and there is always something about that word that grabs my attention. From their website alone, you can appreciate just what it is you will be getting from Hotel Basss, and what appealed to me foremost was the design. The hotel is inspired by Americian graphic designer Saul Bass, and in turn uses geometric patterns and colour at each turn. On arrival, the hotel’s design didn’t disappoint, with its Scandinavian touches and upcycled elements. From the sleek fonts used on the windows, to the calming colour palette of greens, the vibe was fashionable without a hint of pretension.
Arriving early, and expecting to have to leave our bags at the desk, we were welcomed by two members of staff. I tried my best French and was met with an English response – other European’s ability to speak English will forever shame me, but is entirely useful I admit. We were told our room was available, and after travelling since 3am, we were keen to shower and change before heading out into the city. Shown to our room, we were on the sixth floor of the linear building (there’s a lift!), steadying ourselves as we peered over the bannister. With just two to three rooms per floor, the hotel felt calm and quiet.
On arrival in our room I couldn’t help but squeal with excitement as I clocked our very own balcony. I think a top-floor privilege, but on a look around later, lower floor rooms can enjoy floor to ceiling Juliet balconies also. Only a metre or so square, yet it provided the most gorgeous views of the typically Parisian streets below us, and I spent a fair amount of time admiring the intricate iron balconies opposite, before actually taking in our room. I’d seen online the unique modern decor the hotel boasted, and was pleased to see our room reflected the photographs perfectly. Minimal and with calming blue and green tones, the room provided all that we needed – including a subway-tiled bathroom, hairdryer and free wifi. I was pleased to also see a proper duvet – my one bugbear when travelling is thin sheets in not-so-hot countries! The room felt cosy and personal, but spacious and functional.
We were told from 2pm-7pm, the hotel lobby turns into a coffee house for guests. Free Nespresso, cakes and sweets, we took some time to plot our route for the next morning to the Gare de L’est. The hotel really did feel like a tranquil haven in the mayhem of the city, with the staff on hand for any needs, but also unphased as we took photos in unusual locations and ways!
Location wise, Hotel Basss felt perfect for the needs of our trip. As we’d both been to Paris on several occasions, we agreed to avoid the big sights and just soak up the atmosphere. Staying in Montmarte let us do just that – Rue de Abbesses is filled with cafes and eateries, perfect for losing a few hours in the Spring sun to a cafe au lait. We had coffee, lunch and dinner nearby the hotel with plenty of choice, and managed to squeeze in some window shopping in a few boutiques, as wells as a selection of brands I was pleased to see (Kiehls, Aesop and the like). I think these represent the area as it is now, and how it’s taken a real shift to a more contemporary vibe. Hotel Basss is certainly inkeeping with this. In the brief time we were there, we were impressed with it’s location in regards to the other areas of the city. 20 minutes from the Gare du Nord (where the Eurostar comes into), five minutes from the Sacre Coeur and 30 minutes to the central sightseeing area – all on foot, it meant we could sneak back to a chilled area after a slightly more manic time centrally.
I would rate our stay at Hotel Basss number one out of all the times I’ve visited the city. It felt so good to step away from the chains, and enjoy something current and refreshing with all the ameneties you need. I felt relaxed and peaceful in the hotel, and can’t wait to return for a longer stay (not least because of the beautiful continental breakfast – three pain au chocolat, say what?). I can’t recommended Hotel Basss enough, and on my next trip across the stream, it will be my first port of call.