Tucked away in the 7th arrondissement of Paris lies a boutique hotel called Le Narcisse Blanc, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The concept of the hotel is simple. Only few will have even heard about the property because the ultimate luxury is privacy. The owner who prefers to remain anonymous designed the hotel to be exclusive, understated and hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Paris.
The owner of the hotel was inspired by the opera dancer Cleo De Merode. A contemporary of Gabrielle Chanel, Cleo was the daughter of a Viennese Baroness and joined the Paris Ballet school at the age of seven. In the late nineteenth century she became the it-girl of Paris and women would copy her hairstyles. Later on, artists of the Bella Epoque began to paint, photograph and sculpt her like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Giovanni Boldini, and Félix Nadar.
The artistic director of the hotel is Laurent et Laurence with the interior design team Thierry Martin and Thibaut Fron. They created a contemporary interior filled with traditional French details including silk fringe lined curtains, geometric patterned carpets, and even glass blown flowers. The space was once an office building that was transformed into an incredibly chic home away from home.
Once you enter Le Narcisse Blanc, you’ve entered another dimension of comfort and tranquility. Everything is understated but you feel like you have everything.
We stayed in the Aurore Suite, which is the best room in the property. Located on the top floor, the original masts were kept in the bedroom to create an open lofty feel to the space. Once you open the closets, they become illuminated so that you can see your clothes with ease. The decor features a light color palette filled with complementing colors of beige, white, gray and baby blue. Traditional French golden frames line the walls while whimsically embroidered curtains cover the windows.
A snow-covered view of the Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg was visible through our windows. At night, we could see a faint dimly lit Eiffel tower shiny through the misty fog. Once you leave the bedroom, you will go through a narrow corridor which revealed the suite’s most sought-after space: the shower.
The shower and sink had a view of the suite’s private terrace and Parisian rooftops. Since it had been snowing for the past couple of days, the trees, chairs and bushes were covered in fluffy white snowflakes. At night you could see views of the city lights, smoking chimneys and monuments such as the Louvre…this definitely isn’t your typical hotel view. Best of all, no one can see you as you take a shower.
This isn’t the big glamorous 5-star hotel that you see in the movies. If you’re looking for a Moulin Rouge themed hotel, this isn’t the place. This is true Parisian elegance without the Hollywood touch. It’s for those who want to stay in the middle of the city, but still feel like they are by themselves. As there are rarely vacancies here, this is even a favorite amongst high profile celebrities because they know that the paparazzi will never come here.
The restaurant is called Cleo, inspired by Cleo De Merode. It only has about 15 to 20 seats so that Chef Zachary Gaviller could concentrate on creating the most innovative dishes. The restaurant is boutique, intimate and refined. On the menu, Cleo offers tasting and unusual cuisine made of the finest organic products.
We started our evening with a palette cleanser, the terrine with vegetables. This dish was fresh, savory with a multitude of textures. Next, we went onto our appetizer, the octopus with Brussel sprouts. It had an eclectic taste with the sweetness of the Brussel sprouts. the charred outer texture of octopus with the tender sensation of the octopus meat. It came with a dash of red sauce they was spicy. The black plate created a stunning presentation providing the ultimate visual contrast.
For the entree, we had the roasted suckling pig with house green chorizo, Brussel sprouts and trout eggs. The pork had a tender texture with a crispy skin that was very similar to the traditional Chinese pork belly. The juiciness of the meat and fat served as a cushion to the crispy skin crunch.
I brought one of my good friends, Thomas Bastide with me to enjoy Cleo. He was the Creative Director and Head Designer of Baccarat for over 25 years, designing some of their bestselling pieces that still sell today. He mentioned to me that the restaurant served Chateldon water, which is known for being the best tasting water in the world. In fact, Thomas designed the label for Chateldon 30 years ago. Only the best restaurants in the world serve this water.
When you go to any Baccarat store, you will see a wall dedicated to Bastide’s pieces. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Thomas for over 10 years and met him in Los Angeles. When I came to Paris in 2010, he showed me his studio and showed me the best of Paris. He is where I find my luxury inspiration. You have probably used some of his designs in your daily life as he has worked with the biggest brands in the world. He was thoroughly impressed by Cleo and the Le Narcisse Blanc experience.
For more information, visit Le Narcisse Blanc.
All images courtesy David Christopher Lee unless otherwise noted.