I went to Paris with my mum and my nan once – it was my first proper experience of being abroad and I loved it. Fast forward 26 years (really?) and I'm back with my husband, Ian, for a whirlwind day-and-a-half visit.
The primary reason was to check out a quirky hotel in the Latin Quarter. This bohemian region of the French capital is so-called because Latin was once widely spoken here, which is much to do with the nearby university (the Sorbonne) and the high student population.
Arriving at Hotel Seven – it looks quite unassuming from the outside, tucked into a residential area.
Its name (I'm presuming) comes from the fact it has seven suites, but these are no ordinary suites.
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Each has a name and a theme – Lovez-vous, La sublime, Marie Antoinette, Alice (ie Alice in Wonderland), On/Off, Suite 007, and Le Diamant Noir. There are also four different types of rooms – Absolute Levitation, Reaching to the Stars, the Suspended Bath, and Under-Roof Levitation. These suites and rooms really have to be seen to do them any justice – log on to the hotel's website and you'll practically have a guided tour. Suffice to say, the "levitation" aspect pretty much applies to all rooms and suites as the beds are suspended. Each is also ultra contemporary and a huge amount of thought has gone into every element of design.
Our two-night stay gave the hotel the opportunity to let us sample different accommodation on each night. The first was... Le Diamant Noir (the Black Diamond). And, well, it was er... black. Very black, blacker than black, so much so that we had to pull back the curtains on both windows as we arrived just to let in whatever light we could – we simply couldn't see what we were doing.
"What was that?" said Ian, tripping over something. "My trainers," I replied, which were black. I chucked my black brolly on the black sofa "where did that go?" I thought. It had disappeared. Ian's coat had already gone missing. Ah yes, he'd thrown it on the sofa.
If you're anything like me... at least half of my wardrobe is black. I knew at this point we'd both be travelling home with fewer socks than we'd arrived with. Thank god the bed had a white duvet – consequently, we tried to keep most of our possessions in sight, on the bed.
The walls and ceiling are black, the carpet is black, the furniture is black, the black-out curtains are, er, black. The room is divided by a glass "wall" and door taking you into a wet room where the floor and walls are black, the huge bath is black, the massive basin is black and the double shower room at the side is so black you really could do with a torch to have a look-about.
A separate toilet is right over the other side of the bedroom and it's... you've guessed it... black. Even the loo paper is black, even the cardboard tube in the middle is black.
Is there any light? Actually...yes. Fairy lights on the ceiling and in the walls provide enough illumination to reflect and bounce off sparkly "jewels" embedded in the carpet and all over the bath. Hanging from the ceiling are lights with little clear pieces of plastic that reflect the light, same goes for the lamps and a full length mirror on the door helps add to the reflection effect. One word of warning... it's hard to tell sometimes if the clear glass bathroom door is open or closed, so keep your wits about you.
Overall the room is stunning, the design is fabulously effective. My only gripe is there aren't many surfaces to put your stuff on. Also, there was no hairdryer – harrumph.
"Oh my god," said Ian, "there's the TV." The flat-screen black TV was embedded in the wall, we'd only just noticed it. But could we find the remote?
Anyway, no time for TV – we were in Paris. It was about half nine and we were starving. We headed to Le Tourbillon a little restaurant at the end of our street. Here we sat outside on a balmy evening and I ordered the best steak I've ever had.
The next day and we made our way down to breakfast at about 9.30am (breakfast is served until a respectable 11am). Here you have a choice of freshly baked pastries, bread, cheese, meat, smoked salmon, fruit, yoghurts and possibly the best orange juice I've ever tasted. There is also an excellent self-service coffee machine, producing cappuccinos and espressos etc, that really hit the spot.
After brekkie, it was time to hit Paris and we decided to see it on foot. We basically walked along the banks of the Seine, crossing a bridge to see sights such as Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.
The tower really is the granddaddy of the great Parisian sights. Built in 1889, it is the tallest structure in Paris and the most visited paid-for monument in the world, and this we found to our cost. We wanted to go up the tower to the first level at least, but those queues, oh those queues.
With time being of the essence on our short trip, we decided against hours of queuing and sat on the huge mass of grass just below the tower, around the Champs de Mars instead.
Time was ticking by quickly. We walked back in towards the shops and cafes, had a nice light lunch, and headed back to the hotel.
Our rooms had been switched and we were now in one of the Reaching to the Stars rooms. Much to our delight, we had a lot more natural light, however, situated at the front of the building, the road was quite noisy.
Here, again, we had the lovely effect of fairy lights dotted all over the ceiling, which featured a cloudy sky mural. Behind the elevated bed (separated by a wall of glass once more) there was a fabulous double shower, with a wash basin separated off on either side. This time there was a hairdryer (oh joy) and more surfaces on which to put your belongings.
That evening we ventured out on to Mouffetard – a great area within easy walking distance with lots of places to eat and drink.
The following day, time was of the essence so we stuck closer to home and visited the Jardin du Luxembourg. The vast, well-manicured gardens have plenty to see and plenty to do. We witnessed tai chi, football, basketball, sandpits and mini paddling pool, tennis, pony riding, a children's play ground, there's a cafe too, while the impressive Palais du Luxembourg looks amazing.
Soon enough, we were back at the hotel and packing our bags for home. After just a day-and-a-half we were leaving with lots of good memories and a hotel experience that would be hard to forget.