Hotel Ekta is that rare find in Paris: a boutique that gives you the service of a five-star. It’s a concept hotel, also unusual in the French capital – a renovated 1960s office building that takes its inspiration from the footloose and fancy-free era it was built in.
Ekta opened last spring, and has been busy ever since. And with good reason. The ultraglam decor ups the cool factor of your trip, the staff are exceptional, and seriously affordable rates mean you can spend your travel dollars on other indulgences. Such as, say, jars of the world’s most luxurious chocolate spread, or exquisite éclairs that cost more than a taxi.
Ekta is in the 8th arrondissement off the Champs-Élysées, in a remarkably quiet residential quarter populated by Parisians. It is well-situated for exploring the city on foot, Etka is walking distance from the chic Avenue Montaigne, the Eiffel Tower and the scenic Seine River. If you’re up for a longer trek, you can make your way across town, and up winding cobblestone streets, to visit the Old World patisseries, cheese shops and Sacré-Cœur cathedral of Montmartre.
If Andy Warhol and Twiggy dreamed up a hotel, this is what it would look like. The decor celebrates pop art, fashion and industrial design, with a black-and-white palette accented by bold colours. Glamorous photos adorn the walls; R&B plays in the halls; and modernist furniture by Maxime Old and Pierre Paulin incorporate both clean lines and comfort.
First-time visitors to Paris will appreciate the multilingual, 24/7 concierge. Young, in-the-know staff are on hand at any hour of the day or night, and were fantastically helpful during my stay.
IF I COULD CHANGE JUST ONE THING
After long days pounding the pavement around Paris, a nice long soak in the tub is in order. Unfortunately, the unpredictable water temperatures didn’t always co-operate with that plan.
WHOM YOU’LL MEET
Smartly dressed French businessmen, and hip thirty- and fortysomething tourists from Europe, Australia, America, China, Africa and the Middle East. The hotel is also especially popular with honeymooners, whom the staff pamper – delighting in finding creative ways to inject romance into each stay, including adorning rooms with mini-Eiffel Towers.
EAT IN OR EAT OUT
There’s nothing more decadent than having a breakfast tray delivered to your room, and Ekta has a lovely one: high-end tea, a basket of fresh pastries with preserves, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, yogurt and The New York Times. But this is Paris – venture further afield for the rest of your meals. You’ll find L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Etolie, from the famed Michelin-starred French chef, just around the corner from the hotel, but a more wallet-friendly bistro, Comptoir de l’Arc, is up the street which you might enjoy just as much. Packed with Parisians on the night I visited, the atmosphere was as convivial as it gets. And a delicious dinner (goat cheese and tomato quiche with an enormous salad) runs just €11 ($16).
ROOM WITH A VIEW
The rooms at the front of the hotel look out onto Rue Galilee, a charming sloped street with classically French architecture. One look at the grand Parisian apartment building across the street and it’s an instant reminder that you’ve been lucky enough to wake up in the City of Light.
Hotel Ekta, 52 Rue Galilee, Paris; hotelekta.com. 25 rooms starting at €95 ($140.82).
The writer was a guest of the hotel.
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