Hotel Insider The new W Paris Opera is comfortable, efficient and enjoyably cool.
W Paris Opera is comfortable, efficient and enjoyably cool
Walking through the rather understated doorway into a dimly lit interior, checking into the W Paris Opéra feels rather like arriving at an exclusive party. To the right, music emanates from the lounge. A gaggle of guests dressed in skinny jeans and bright cardigans chat animatedly in the hallway. The small reception area is filled with impossibly handsome young men armed with walkie-talkies, ushering guests to the check-in desks to quickly complete the formalities. The pen I'm offered, a ballpoint that someone has seen fit to graft a massive white feather onto the top of, leaves me with the suspicion that I may be either too uncool or too practical to fully appreciate this experience.
Let's not kid ourselves - this is a seriously good location. The hotel looks out directly onto the famous Opéra Garnier but it's tucked away enough to offer some protection from the hordes of milling tourists. Navigate across a few pedestrian crossings and you're in shopping heaven (the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores). The Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre are a 20-minute stroll.
Forget to take your trendy sunglasses off here and you'll be in trouble - the corridors and room entrances are so dark I wondered if some of the bulbs had gone. Hotel rooms in Paris are rarely large, but the thoughtful efficiency with which my fourth floor "Spectacular" room was designed more than makes up for the small floor space.
One side of the room was dominated by a wall-mounted unit with a television and media centre, an iPhone docking station and speaker. There was also a snack bar (stuffed with everything from energy drinks to gourmet popcorn) and a desk. Oh, and some books on fashion and design, in case you'd forgotten the hotel's raison d'être. On the other side was a superbly comfortable bed with luxurious sheets and a clever charging station for a mobile phone or digital camera (if you ask me, this should be a legal requirement in every hotel). The bathroom displayed the same practical design, with a double rain shower, large sink and plenty of amenities.
To my surprise, there was no turndown service, but in the event it didn't matter - I slept like a baby. Revellers partied into the small hours in the bar below and traffic roared around the opera house outside but I couldn't hear a thing.
At this stage (four weeks after opening), the hotel is unlikely to win any prizes for attentive service, although staff were pleasant enough and fast when it came to fulfilling orders and the "Whatever/Whenever" room service calls, which went some way to making up for the hands-off approach. At several points I noticed that staff uncomfortably outnumbered guests in the public spaces; hopefully, with time, there will be more discreetness.
Michelin-starred Sergi Arola makes his French debut at the W Paris, overseeing the already popular Arola restaurant and the W Lounge. In Arola, the innovative tapas dishes (priced around €15 [Dh73]) are the perfect balance of light and rich. The extensive vegetable and fish options mark this restaurant out from most of its Parisian counterparts.
If there is one thing the W Paris has, it's a great scene. During the day, the W Lounge is an off-street retreat with large windows that has evidently become the meeting place of choice for the city's creative types; when I was there, they had thrown the sofa cushions to one side so that they could better huddle around their MacBooks. At night, music blares and a DJ is in residence on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but most of the action is next door in the see-and-be-seen-in bar, where barmen flip shakers with abandon and coiffed Parisians giggle and slowly sip. It is loud and busy, but not uncomfortably so.
The design. Restrictions presented by the hotel's oddly shaped, historic Haussmann shell have forced real ingenuity in everything from room shape and window placement to lighting, making for charming touches and original features in places where they're least expected.
If you like to throw open your room windows on arrival, don't stay here. For safety and to reduce noise, none of them open a crack - the place feels hermetically sealed.
I had my doubts at first, and not everybody will love the ostentatious effort to be cool, that's for sure. But the W Paris Opéra isn't just a vacuous hipster - it's also comfortable, efficient and unusually enjoyable.
The bottom line
A "Spectacular" room with a view of the opera house and a W signature bed costs €540 (Dh2,445) per night, including taxes. W Paris Opéra, 4 rue Meyerbeer, 75009, Paris (www.wparisopera.com; 00 331 44 77 10 68).