Meeting Mannequins In An Elegant Parisian Hotel

by Sean Hillen

Meeting mannequins dressed in the finest of Parisian haute couture makes for a surprising entrance to the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg – but then again, it shouldn’t – the luxury hotel being located in the heart of the city’s famous fashion district.

Courtesy of the French Federation of Bespoke Tailors, the mannequins, some on glittering gold-colored pedestals, line the marble lobby of the hotel amidst a colorful decor of flowers and plants.

Photos by Columbia Hillen

The expansive lobby itself is as equally elegant as the mannequins, complete as it is with glass ceiling, a grand chandelier and light, airy sofas with colorful cushions. A cosy, wood-panelled library with soft lighting standing at one end features an impressive fireplace and a collection of books ranging from the life of Coco Chanel and the history of Vogue to the development of famed perfume-maker Fragonard, Dior and Chaumet and the evolution of fashion photography. A great place to linger, which we did several times, both post-breakfast, coffees in hand, and in the quiet of the evening.

At the opposite end of the lobby is the Blossom Restaurant, that opens onto a bijou patio garden with potted palm trees and fountain, where both dinner and breakfast are served. Below in the basement is small gym with separate male and female hammams.

Our suite, 334, comprised a set of three deep-carpeted rooms, a curtain and glass-fronted door separating the bedroom and bathroom. Our bedding was by MyBed and decor by Pierre-Yves Rochon and design by French opera-singer-turned-interior-architect Didier Gomez.

Long rather than wide, the room featured a contemporary, ash color design with Corinthian-style columns embedded in the wall bedside and mouldings along the ceiling. Linen-draped windows granted an abundance of natural light with a view over the glass-topped dome of the foyer and furnishings included two televisions, espresso machine, coffee-table and a generous stretch sofa. The bathroom comprised both bathtub and shower with Atelier Cologne toiletries. 

A highlight of our stay was a leisurely evening at the ground-floor ‘Le Bar du Faubourg,’ with its chic, black and white decor with mirrored tables, semi-circular couches, panelled walls, fireplace, studded leather armchairs and fashion photographs lining the walls.

Mixologist Aurelian Rey at work.

A cocktail-chasing chat with bartenders Aurelie Bourre and Aurelian Rey proved most enjoyable, the latter, a talented mixologist competing in national competitions, serving us a winning combo he created from childhood memories – gin, lemongrass, mint leaf and lime – a flambé homage to his grandfather. Here we also indulged in a ‘Badly Tiki,’ a potent mix of white and dark plantation rum and Hennessy cognac, Velvet Falernum, passion fruit, pineapple, ginger, lime juice and tonka syrup, ‘Excalibur’ combining Bombay Sapphire gin, Saint Germain liqueur, melon and fresh cucumber, lemongrass syrup and lemon juice, as well as a delectable Gaston Legrand ‘83 Armagnac. Ask to see the special Cognacs dating from 1802 and 1950 from the village of Angeac.

Aurelie Bourre presenting a special Gaston Legrand ‘83 Armagnac

Our dishes for the evening, tapas-style mainly, included smoked Scottish salmon with blinis, Caesar salad, falafels with organic vegetables, cumin and coriander yogurt and Charolais beef tartare.

In terms of event facilities, the hotel has two flexible meeting rooms accommodating up to 50 people, their design incorporating honey-colored wood, beige-gray leather seating, contemporary chandeliers and artworks by British-Indian sculptor, Anish Kapoor.

On a quiet side street between Concorde and Faubourg St-Honoré, this 5-star, 147-room luxury hotel embraces a neighboring district offering a crème de la crème of shopping temptations. Hermes, Cartier, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega to name but a few high-end brand names.

There is also an abundance of cultural choice nearby as well, the Tuileries gardens and the Musée de l’Orangerie and Louvre all being within easy walking distance.

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