Relais Christine was just what I needed. An antidote to my mid-November melancholy. Splashes of bright colour, dynamic textures and beautiful fragrances to pull me out of my post-Caribbean lull.
November can be a dark and sombre time in Paris. Persistent rain and cold, biting wind can take the spring out of your step. Its far too late in the year for bright autumnal colours, yet too early for Christmas lights.
This is the no-man’s-land of my calendar year.
I happened to be in Paris for Armistice Day this year. Less than a week after returning from the Bahamas, I desperately needed to keep the high I felt from waking up next to the turquoise Caribbean sea every morning.
I had heard a lot about Relais Christine since its renovation in early 2017. The hotel blogosphere had been unanimous in its opinion of this fantastic property. Despite the exceptional reviews, I was reluctant – I had already fallen in love with the Saint James Paris and I couldn’t imagine being as enamoured with another Paris hotel.
As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But the more I read, the more it intrigued me. The Relais Christine seemed like the light-hearted younger sister of the older, sultry Saint James Paris. In the end, my curiosity got the better of me. I had to see what all the hype was about.
Relais Christine recently completed a two-year, multi-million-dollar renovation. That is obvious from the very moment you walk through the enchanting courtyard entrance. French designer Laura Gonzalez has transformed this once 13th century abbey into a luxurious, private retreat.
As I walked in, it felt comfortable. Private. My first few steps beyond the lobby revealed cozy nooks and crannies where I could read oversized books about contemporary art. And drink espresso. I am also a sucker for wine, so the honour bar sold me right away. I envisioned pouring myself a glass of Bourdeaux after a walk along the Seine. I felt like it was my living room (albeit, a much nicer version of my living room).
When I stepped out of my fantasy, what struck me were the rich colours and textiles that covered just about every wall, chair and part of the floor. Brilliant fabrics and wallpaper by Pierre Frey, Hermès, Le Manach, and Braquenié. The design overhaul was a fundamental component of the recent renovation which also saw the addition of the Spa Guerlain and more dining areas areas.
Every stationary piece of the lobby seemed to come alive. My feeling of seasonal dullness started to lift.
And unlike the Saint James’ towering ceiling, the Relais Christine has a rather low ceiling in its common areas. This added a touch of comfort to the first floor of the hotel. Between the soft velvet ottomans, great selection of wine and heaps of art books, I felt as though I could spend a lot of time there.
Having just arrived from a bare-bones Novotel in Reims, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Our Junior Suite
We had the pleasure of staying in suite #50 on the third floor of the hotel. From the moment I peered through the door, I knew I wasn’t in the Novotel anymore. Bright ivory coloured decor, lavish textured wallpaper, and a sitting area on the first floor won me. The use of space was intelligent, innovative and playful. I simply adored that my bed was on the second floor.
Suite #50 is precisely how I would decorate my (imaginary) French chateaux.
Similar to the Saint James Paris, the living space makes you not want to leave the room. Who needs a drafty brasserie when you can lounge in your robe with a bottle of champagne!
48 Rooms & Suites
Maren, the property’s enthusiastic Deputy Manager, is as infatuated with the property as I am. She took me on a tour of some of the hotel’s other suites during which we ood-and-awed over every detail. From the placement of a bathroom skylight to the original beams on the top floor suites, we were equally fascinated with the design. We seemed to be kindred spirits in our infatuation for the details of this immaculate property.
And to my amazement (but not surprise), every single room on the property is different. Forget the cookie-cutter approach, there were 48 different universes all under one roof. Each with a unique colour scheme, each a different style. But always the same attention to detail.
My tour gave me 47 reasons to come back.
The Devil is in the Details
If there is one thing this property does right, its the details. The wallpaper was three dimensional. The carpets were rich, soft and wonderful to walk on. And the towels…the towels! They were silky, dense and almost buttery. As I mentioned this to Maren, her eyes lit up. It was as if I was in on a secret. She revealed to me that they had just replaced them the day prior and was ecstatic that I noticed the subtle difference. This might have been one of my most memorable tactile experiences in this hotel.
As much as I adore the Saint James Paris, the Relais Christine might have it beat on location. It sits just a five minute walk from the Pont Neuf and less than ten minutes from Notre Dame. It is perfect for those who want to explore the city by foot, or bike. The hotel even has a little fleet of bicycles of guests to use.
When people tell me they visited Paris and hated it, the first thing I ask them is “where did you stay?” The spirit of this city is known through its food, its hospitality, its subtle hints of luxury. These are the details that the Relais Christine does so well. Looking back, I remember very little else of my recent trip to Paris besides the hotel. Now that is the sign of a world class property.
Relais Christine, 3 Rue Christine, 75006 Paris, France
+33 1 40 51 60 80, https://relais-christine.com/