Hôtel Observatoire Luxembourg

Hôtel Observatoire Luxembourg

The entrance is discreet, a simple ebony-black and glass facade facing the Boulevard Saint Michel. The lobby is handsome, a gracious oak-paneled living room with classic custom furnishings in pearl gray leather and ebony, accented by scattered flashes of crimson and witty black-and-white Fornasetti cushions and vases. With inspirations as diverse as the films of Peter Greenaway, the historic Paris Observatory nearby and the Arago Line—the Paris meridian defined by 17th-century astronomer François Arago now so well known to fans of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code—architect/decorator Alexandre Danan has turned the Hôtel Observatoire Luxembourg into a delightful surprise. Well soundproofed, it’s a quiet retreat right on the edge of the Left Bank’s action central, only a block from the Luxembourg Garden, and a few minutes from the Panthéon, the Sorbonne and the chic shops and cafés of Saint Germain des Prés.

Upstairs, the hotel’s 41 rooms are all variations on the same classic/contemporary theme, with wall-sized, black wood-paneled bedsteads framing mirrors inset with “witch-mirror” orbs—another wink at the planetary observatory. Bed covers are deep red or toasty brown, and Fornasetti-style throw pillows are printed with mysterious Mona Lisa eyes. Some front rooms have views of the Luxembourg Garden. Much more surprising, several rooms at the back overlook the beautiful, walled and very private garden of a former 17th-century seminary that is now the National Institute for the Deaf.

Attached to the hotel and serving as its breakfast room and restaurant is one of the Latin Quarter’s popular landmarks, the corner sidewalk café/brasserie called Le Luco—the traditional nickname for the Luxembourg Garden.

107 blvd Saint Michel, 5th, website

Originally published in the February 2012 issue of France Today

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