Whether you’ve been away for a few weeks or for 18 months, a trip to Paris can only ever be improved by a little refresher on the local lingo. You’ll no doubt have mastered the classics already. Bonjour, bonne journée and six croissants pur beurre s’il vous plait should get your basic needs met, but a stay at Chouchou Hotel warrants a deeper dive.
What’s in a name? This new boutique hotel in the Opera district isn’t named for ‘chou’ – the rather prosaic cabbage – nor indeed its far more delicious homonym, the cream-filled pastry. Having a chouchou means having a favourite, and with its sleek interiors and lively bar scene, Chouchou Hotel is set to win hearts on the Right Bank.
Somewhat pandering to our social media obsessed times, the decor has been tailored with Instagram shares in mind, but the hotel’s approach is playful enough that to get away with it. At the entrance, a mirror- and brass-clad hallway lends itself to the kind of selfies made popular by Yayoi Kusama’s infinity rooms, as does the neon-lit lift. I give in to my narcissistic impulses and snap happily away – it’s clear designer Michel Malapert (the dab hand behind fash-pack fave brasserie Le Nemours) knows a thing or two about flattering lighting.
Up on the 5th floor, my jewel-box-blue room looks worthy of the #accidentalwesanderson hashtag (36K Insta posts and counting). Herringbone parquet, velvet pouffes, elegant beading and filament bulbs add a touch of vintage charm, while monochrome touches (a low coffee table, striped bedding) keep things sharp rather than sickly sweet. My room is compact, but the bathroom proves a pleasant surprise with a deep bath, brass-framed mirror and full-sized pH Laboratories products that leave my hair soft and tousled in that chic Parisian way. I’m flummoxed by the high-tech toilet, a heated Japanese-style contraption with a remote control, but otherwise delighted with my bolthole for the night. Chouchou has two suites should you need more space to sprawl: La Vie en Rose, a pastel dream dressed in macaron hues, and the dark and sultry L’Anamour, with its circular bath made for long soaks à deux.
The heart of the hotel is its guinguette: a convivial bar, dining and performance space where guests and locals can mingle over oysters, charcuterie platters and cocktails. The two street food stands look promising, but a Sunday closure means I don’t get to sample the intriguing galette saucisse, a crêpe-wrapped take on the hot dog. Just as well: the Galeries Lafayette department store is just around the corner, and I’ll take any excuse to spend some time in its two-floor food hall. Chouchou’s good looks may be seductive, but it’s really its location that’ll win you over: a 15-minute walk will take you to the luxe boutiques of Madeleine, the bustle of Sentier or the placid pace of the Seine. Here’s to a new firm favourite.
11 Rue du Helder, 75009 Paris
By Madévi Dailly
Image credits: Nicolas Anetson