The first time I checked into Hotel Du Petit Moulin, it was to have an affair. Technically, he was having the affair with me, and it had started in New York. Evil and exhilarating, hypnotically fun and dangerously deranged — I never wanted us to end. Naturally, our sins took us to Paris, where everything fell apart. Vicious food poisoning from “the best restaurant in France,” for him; unrelenting worries and brutal regret for me. We left early and never spoke again. Karma bit us in the ass at the Hotel du Petit Moulin, but not before I swiped the Hermès body lotion and promised to come back soon.
I’ve returned every six months since.
This tiny upper-Marais hotel, built inside an old boulangerie and designed by Christian Lacroix, is so supremely kooky-chic – with its antique absinthe fountain, “honesty bar,” and rich, bohemian, bipolar guests — the “je ne sais quois” belongs in the Louvre. The street corner lobby, a wild-orchid-filled hideaway on Rue de Poitou, has an adjacent lounge — a mille-feuille of velvet, mirrors, and shags, like the lovechild of Wes Anderson and Megan Draper. Throw in the hazy breakfast room, and the whole first floor is an odd-bird's bliss, wallpapered in Wi-Fi, passion, pills, and possibility.
The 17 rooms – tiny, clean and high-quality everything — are perfectly Paris. No matter how much Lillet you drink, you can’t mistake where you are. The black, white, and hot pink polka-dotted No. 201 is my favorite. It's like Kate Spade gone psycho. The bathrooms are almost all bathtub-only; the kind of oversize claw-foot tubs you smoke cigarettes from, recounting tales of cheap sex and expensive shopping.
The only thing I can compare Hotel Du Petit Moulin to is the Portobello Hotel in Notting Hill, where Johnny Depp and Kate Moss once got naked and crazy. I waitressed at Sarabeth’s the entire summer of '99 just to spend one week there alone. As I write this, I’ve checked into Shangri-La (on a very lucky assignment). It is one of the most desired five-star hotels in Paris today, breathtaking and utopian in every way. Yet from the breezy balcony overlooking the Eiffel Tower, with my Moët & Chandon chilling in the bucket, a faint longing sweeps over me for a lover and l’hotel that is so wrong, it’s right.
Hotel du Petit Moulin, 29 Rue de Poitou, 75003; +33 1 42 74 10 10