Home sweet home at the Paris boutique hotel Le Narcisse Blanc

High-end travelers are used to the approaches to simplicity devised by the big hotel chains. But with so many rooms and so little time, many are unnatural reflections of no one’s home.

The reaction is clear in the unprecedented success of Airbnb and the rise of boutique hotels, which offer fewer rooms with bespoke furnishings combined with a sense of authenticity and intimacy.

It seems we are yearning for a more genuine time, before homogenized consumer grade world travel accommodations.

Many boutique hotels take inspiration from old Paris in style and atmosphere. So it may come as a surprise to learn that Paris itself didn’t have a high-end boutique hotel scene of its own until recently.

“We have many four-star palaces and hotels in Paris, but there were no independent five-star boutique hotels with fewer than 50 rooms.”

Born into a family of hoteliers, Lucas Beguinot grew up in the Paris hospitality industry and quickly recognized a gap in the market for a Parisian home away from home. “I love art, I love design,” he says. “I knew that it was what I wanted to do, to create a dream house in the heart of Paris.”

The family’s first boutique hotel was The Favart House, a 39-room four-star experience heavily inspired by the style and décor of 18th-century France. “We were trying to create an intimate feeling of home, which in French is ‘house’”, says Lucas. “That was in 2012, and thanks to this experience we started working on our second Parisian hotel.”

Ultimately, Lucas and his team settled on an office building previously occupied by the French army. It was an unlikely candidate for one of the city’s first five-star boutique hotels. “We have many palaces and four-star hotels in Paris, but there were no independent five-star boutique hotels with fewer than 50 rooms,” he reveals.

Modern conveniences, but a classic atmosphere.

the white daffodil

the result was the white daffodil, located in the 7th arrondissement, a 15-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower and the embarkation point for the Seine River cruises. The 7th has traditionally been part of Paris synonymous with romance, a theme that Le Narcisse Blanc delivers in a sophisticated and understated way.

Stepping inside is like stepping into artistic 20th-century Paris. Neutral tones combined with black and white accents provide a warm yet classic atmosphere in the hotel’s 37 rooms. The decor is traditional yet contemporary, offering a nod to the history of the district combined with the five-star comforts that travelers to Paris expect, down to the smallest details.

“Even the materials you use in the room are important,” Lucas emphasizes. “How strong it is, how it feels when you touch it. Some people don’t notice those kinds of details, but those who stay in five-star luxury hotels do.”

Lucas believes that flexibility is one of the best qualities a boutique hotel the size of Le Narcisse Blanc can offer. “In a big hotel, everyone knows exactly what to do. It’s a procedure,” he says. “In a boutique hotel you need to have eyes everywhere, your staff must be able to think differently.”

Hospitality at its best

the white daffodil

The hotel is indeed a quiet sanctuary away from the crowds. It is small, intimate and quiet, the staff willing to listen and attend to all your needs. Room service doesn’t even come with a menu; they ask you what you want and make suggestions, and even if you order something simple like a pasta with salad, it will give you the delicious Parisian touch.

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Clarins Pool and Spa under the city streets is the perfect place to soothe sore muscles after a day of sightseeing.

“In English, the word guest is just the person who is welcomed, but the French word for guest, host, it is as much for the person who welcomes as it is for the person who receives the welcome.”

The concierge, Hakim, has been with the hotel since it opened in 2016 and seems to have a supernatural ability to know what you need before you do. “He takes care of the lobby and the restaurant,” says Lucas. “He sees everything.”

It all aligns with Lucas’s belief that hospitality should be a very human experience. “True hospitality doesn’t use computers,” he points out. “When our staff says ‘I hope you enjoy your stay,’ it’s personal, not an automated email. When you return to Le Narcisse Blanc and are recognized by our staff, it’s a feeling you can’t design.”

local delicacies

The restaurant and bar is more like a lounge, with armchairs that allow you to sit back and enjoy traditional French cuisine and an enviable selection of drinks. The restaurant, cleo, is deliberately withdrawn within the hotel to replicate the feel of a dining room at home. “Privacy is the ultimate luxury, it’s not sitting right next to the street,” Lucas says.

The strong point of the menu is its simplicity. He only does a handful of meals, which change regularly, but he does them extremely well. During my visit I enjoy thin slices of sea bream with peach and fresh almonds followed by a very French meal of braised beef with foie gras.

The next morning, breakfast is a divine basket of buttery Parisian delights, hot from a local bakery (indeed, culinary accessories throughout the hotel are sourced locally whenever possible). The green courtyard is one of the most serene places you could hope to find in the 7th arrondissement to have a latte and read a book.

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Live Paris in style

the white daffodil

And if you’re lucky enough to have a penthouse room at the front of the hotel, you can enjoy one of the best views in Paris, which seems to have been saved for you: the Eiffel Tower, standing tall and proud above the rooftops. . When dusk comes to Paris, light-sensitive twilight sensors in the tower activate 20,000 twinkling lights that shine every hour on the hour, and if you time it right, you can catch the last display of the night at 1 a.m., when the lights they shine brighter. of your bed

Le Narcisse Blanc is both impressive and comforting and is attracting a loyal number of repeat guests who call it home in Paris, and that is exactly what the owners were looking for.

“In English, the word guest is just the person who is welcomed, but the French word for guest, host, it is as much for the person who welcomes as it is for the person who receives the welcome”, explains Lucas. “Both are part of the experience.”

The boutique hotel approach exemplified by Le Narcisse Blanc may seem disruptive in an industry that is forever changing, but Lucas says there is no such thing as a deliberate method. “It’s just about being human, talking to people and being attentive to their needs,” he says. “It’s just natural.”

This article was written by Caroline Riches and Michael Wayne.

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