The style-conscious citizenM Gare de Lyon feels like luxury without the sticker shock. citizenM hotels already operates in 5 cities in Europe, plus Taipei and New York. This latest Parisian addition opened in the late summer of 2017 – following the success of the hotels in La Defense and Charles de Gaulle airport.
The citizenM Gare de Lyon is just across the street from the metro and the train station – really convenient if you’re catching a train to Provence or the Riviera. The hotel sits pretty much on the Seine river, across from the Cité de la Mode and the gorgeous Jardin des Plantes. Just hugging the seine you can walk to Notre Dame in an easy 20 minutes, or cut across Bastille and reach the charming Marais district in 10’.
Appealing to the traveller who is ‘smarter than a dolphin with a university degree, and realise that you can have luxury for not too much cash,’ the 338 rooms incorporate the latest in connected technology, comfort, and design. The hotel is a fresh and flexible option for business travellers, connected Millenials and an inspired choice if you are travelling with teenagers. The inviting wall-to-wall 2m by 2m bed with a soft headboard feels like a giant cocoon to snuggle up with the free New York Times and take in the jaw-dropping view. With one finger on the iPad, you control the mood lighting, TV channels (a good selection in English), movies on demand, music, and set the alarm to wake you up to gradual light and sound effects. The little thoughtful details make a difference: a free bottle of Evian in the fridge, international power outlets so you don’t have to struggle with adaptors to charge up your tech, AppleTV to airstream media from your mobile device, a powerful hair-dryer, and the ingenious ‘ironing stations’ every other floor, always open, containing a high quality steam iron and board. When you put all these details together, you feel as if you are getting away with real luxury for the price of an average hotel room… and indeed a room that is so very comfortable, clean and quiet.
The living areas
The public areas allow you to pick your perch according to your mood. There’s a section with deep sofas, books to share, Eames lounge chairs and even a ‘crackling fire’; another with iMac workstations and long desks with charging outlets, and finally the canteenM bar-lounge-dining room open 24/7 that offers choices of shared or solo seating areas, lounge style sofas and a glass-enclosed patio area where you can observe the endangered species known as ‘smokers’ before they fade into extinction. Designed by Dutch firm Concrete Architects, the spaces are decorated with specially commissioned artworks including a bespoke mural by French street artist Mast Cora and a bespoke fresco created by local artist Romain Froquet.
Breakfast is served either in the canteenM or as a picnic in your room. The buffet is a well-stocked affair with the usual flaky pastries, cereal, eggs, bacon, plus some welcome hipster touches like barista-poured coffee and detox juices. Aside from a temporary croissant blackout at 7:45, the substantial business crowd was able to fuel up for the day fairly seamlessly.
The cherry on top
CanteenM serves cocktails, snacks and light meals for very reasonable prices, and when it’s time to kick back and relax, you don’t even need a coat, just take the elevator to the top floor for the cloudM bar for a cocktail with a stunning view of the Seine, with Notre Dame and the shimmering Tour Eiffel in the distance. No tourist-trap pricing here either. A glass of chardonnay starts at €4.50, and an indulgent flute of champagne at €9.
The human element
A special mention with a shiny gold star goes to the staff who unfailingly spoke English, were well-informed, took the time to explain the different choices, menus and features, and genuinely mirrored the sentiment printed on their t-shirts that ‘Paris just became an even better idea’. You might fear that a high-tech hotel could nudge guests to burrow deeper into their screens, but the common areas are so well thought out and the staff is so effective that the contrary is true. People are drawn like magnets to the chill-out areas and actually engage in good old-fashioned conversation.
Well, you know what they say, you can’t buy happiness, but at least you can afford a stay at the citizenM in Paris, and that has to count as coming pretty close.
citizenM Gare de Lyon, 8 Rue Van Gogh, 75012 Paris. Tel: + 33 (0)1 86 65 07 40. A recent search turned up room rates around 150 euros/night.