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Saint James Paris 4.5

16th and 17th Arrondissements (Bois de Boulogne), Paris, France

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Regal, historic hotel -- the only chateau hotel in the city
  • Prestigious Relais & Chateaux distinction  
  • Elegant, eccentric interiors done by a famed designer
  • Lavish rooms with luxe amenities and individualized decor 
  • Opulent Michelin-starred restaurant, dining terrace, and cozy bar 
  • Moroccan-themed Guerlain spa; fencing club-inspired fitness center
  • Located in the ritzy 16th Arrondissement, a well-heeled neighborhood
  • History is painstakingly preserved in hotel's decorative elements
  • Clef d’Or concierges -- prestigious and accredited guest services
  • Free valet parking, loaner iPads and bicycles, and free Wi-Fi 
  • Two on-site meeting rooms can accommodate up to 45 people 
  • Herb garden and beehives on the premises used in restaurant 

Cons

  • The 16th Arrondissement is far from most tourist attractions 
  • Some travelers may find the atmosphere a bit stuffy 

Bottom Line

With a storied history and bold decor, the luxury Saint James Paris is a destination in its own right. Interiors feature bold black-and-white molding, but they maintain the opulent sophistication of a Second Empire mansion. The 49 guest rooms are individually decorated and equipped with luxe extras like iHomes, Nespresso machines, and Guerlain toiletries. Highlights include a Michelin-starred restaurant (open to the public for dinner) and an adjacent library bar serves outstanding cocktails. But for spa lovers, the Spa by Guerlain is the ultimate draw, with Moroccan-inspired treatment rooms and two turkish baths. However, some travelers could find all this lavishness a bit over-the-top. Those looking for a hotel that’s a bit more subdued might prefer Relais Christine, the Saint James’ sister property in Saint Germain des Prés.  

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Scene

The only chateau hotel in Paris with wildly sophisticated interiors 

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On the outside, the Saint James remains a stately neoclassical chateau -- indeed it's the only chateau hotel in the city. From its driveway, lined with small topiaries and circling a tiered fountain, the property seems frozen in time, with little changed since its days as an aristocratic home in the Second Empire. But the interiors are a completely different story. Guests enter a dizzying lobby surrounded by so much black-and-white molding, gold-fringed red-velvet sofas, and checkerboard floors that it feels plucked from "Alice in Wonderland." The taxidermy zebra heads mounted on the fireplace would be outlandish anywhere else, but here, it's just another detail in the whimsical tableau. The lobby’s piece de resistance is the “chandelier of chaos,” a light fixture composed of 14 stacked chandeliers, which seems to hang precariously from the room’s 45-foot high ceiling. The hotel's eccentric decor comes courtesy of Bambi Sloan, a famed French-American designer known for her reality-meets-fantasy stylings.  

To say the Saint James has an exclusive atmosphere would be an understatement. The property has a library-quiet feel that may make some guests uncomfortable. Children are technically welcome, though parents with little ones may feel out of place amongst buttoned-up businessmen and discerning older couples. 

This hushed and exclusive atmosphere comes in part because the Saint James Paris is actually a members-only club that also functions as a hotel for members and outside guests. Club members have access to the property’s restaurant, spa, fitness center, and private meeting rooms. During the day, members meet for lunch, or host business engagements at the cozy library bar. The hotel’s on-site Michelin-starred restaurant is only open to club members and hotel guests during the day, but it's open to the public for dinner by reservation only. 

Although the property is wedged between two city boulevards, it feels a world apart, particularly on the hotel’s outdoor terrace or its expansive front lawn. Staff take great care to give the property the atmosphere of tranquility that one might find at a countryside chateau. The Saint James even has its own herb garden, and a beehive that provides all of the honey used at the hotel’s restaurant.  

Location

In the posh 16th Arrondissement, far from central Paris attractions 

Map of Saint James Paris

The Saint James Paris is located in a ritzy residential neighborhood, the 16th Arrondissement. Often compared with New York City’s Upper East Side, the 16th is home to the city’s toniest residents, including French political figures, foreign dignitaries, and old-money bourgeois. Besides foreign embassies and a few museums, there isn’t much to see in the 16th, save for the Trocadero -- one of the best spots in Paris to view the Eiffel Tower -- which is a 15-minute walk from the Saint James. The bucolic Bois de Boulogne, a large public park, is seven minutes away on foot. Situated on the western edge of the 16th, it's home to notable attractions like the Stade Roland-Garros (site of the French Open) and the Foundation Louis Vuitton, a Frank Gehry-designed art museum sponsored by the LVMH group. The Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower are 11 and 19 minutes away by metro, respectively, or seven to 11 minutes by taxi. Other central Paris attractions like Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Luxembourg Gardens are all around 30 minutes away either by metro or taxi. The closest metro station is a four-minute walk away. Charles de Gaulle Airport is about 50 minutes by car or an hour by metro.

Rooms

Individually decorated rooms with sumptuous decor and luxe amenities

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Following the whimsical design of the public spaces, Saint James's guest rooms have wow factor to spare. Decorative pieces point to the chateau’s fin de siecle origins, while modern comforts appeal to 21st-century travelers. As the hotel is meant to resemble a private mansion, guest rooms have the feel of ultra-stylish but homey bedrooms. Boudoir Rooms, the hotel’s smallest category, are typically located at the ends of each corridor. But these are still stuffed with flamboyant details, such as the powdered wigs and framed patents. Larger Prestige Suites are full private apartments. They’re equipped with personal libraries, family portraits, and paintings of pets. Other rooms pay homage iconic individuals, like French artist Madeline Castanig and Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria. 

Throughout all categories, rooms are decorated with a bold hand. Expect rich, jewel-toned walls, pink drapery, velvet fringed divans, and cheetah-print carpeting. Despite their playfulness, these spaces are still polished, in part due to their classical French decorative elements: toile wallpaper, herringbone-patterned carpet, and wall moldings. Bathrooms feature white marble counters, double sinks, and deep soaking tubs (some clawfoot). They're attractively finished with subway tile and gas lamp-style fixtures.

Decor aside, rooms are luxuriously equipped with flat-screen TVs, Nespresso machines, iHomes, terrycloth robes and slippers, Guerlain toiletries, and minibars stocked with top-shelf liquor, Champagne, and snacks from famed Parisian venues like Angelina and Maison Boissier. (Unfortunately these minibar goodies aren’t free.) 

Room categories start at entry-level Boudoir Rooms and move into a wide range of deluxe rooms and suites. Note that most rooms do not have outdoor space, though a few have private patios or indoor “winter gardens.” At the tiptop of that list are the prestigious Pavillons -- Amour and Belles-Feuilles -- standalone villas at the entrance of the property. These three-story villas are great for honeymooners seeking privacy or families who need additional space. The Pavillon d’Amour has its own spa, with two massage beds, a private hot-tub, and a Turkish bath. 

Features

A Michelin-starred restaurant, an excellent cocktail bar, and a small spa and fitness center 

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The Michelin-starred restaurant at the Saint James Paris is its most exclusive feature. The dining room is a stunning yet still whimsical space holding a frescoed ceiling and an ornate marble fireplace, all topped by five crystal chandeliers. Rich wood paneling and crown molding give a finishing touch. The restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the outdoor terrace, where guests can dine when the weather’s nice. The terrace’s enormous hot air balloon awnings are inspired by the Second Empire.

For guests and club members, the restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Non-guests are welcome for dinner only, with reservations. On Sundays, the restaurant hosts afternoon brunch, which is also open to non-guests. Menus change seasonally, but diners can expect elegant ingredients and classic French preparations. Along with a regular dinner menu, the chef also offers a tasting menu, which can be paired with different wines suggested by the hotel’s chief sommelier. 

Adjacent to the restaurant is the hotel’s bar, an outstanding library-themed cocktail lounge where an impressive floor-to-ceiling book display can be accessed by spiral staircase. History buffs should note that the library's books once belonged to French President Adolphe Thiers (the hotel building was formerly an educational institute that bore his name). But for those who are only interested in grabbing a drink, the room’s cherry-red walls, mahogany furniture, and chocolate leather accents create a perfectly sumptuous backdrop for the bar’s creative cocktail menu. 

For spa lovers, the Guerlain Spa represents pampering at its most refined. The spa features a Moroccan inspired theme, but as with other public spaces, it feels a little trippy with false doors along the spa’s corridor. The spa has two treatment rooms and two hammans where guests can indulge in a variety of treatments. Next to the spa is the hotel’s on-site fitness center, which is designed to look like a fencing club. Here, modern LifeFitness cardio and weight-lifting equipment meet parquet wood floors and crystal chandeliers.

Other notable perks include free valet parking, free property-wide Wi-Fi, and loaner iPads and bicycles. All of the hotel’s concierges are members of Les Clefs d’Or, a leading and prestigious guest-service organization.

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Things You Should Know About Saint James Paris

Address

43 Avenue Bugeaud, Paris, Ile-de-France 75116, France

Phone

3 (314) 405-8181

Room Types

  • Boudoir Room
  • Deluxe Room
  • Junior Suite
  • Suite
  • Superior Room

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