I’m going to start this review with an intentional pun that will only make sense later on: this hotel is a grower. As are, I feel, many of the more affordable “boutique” hotels in Paris. You’re instantly dismayed (or perhaps charmed, depends what floats your boat) by the impossibly small elevator and bedroom and the fact that you can hear just about every single noise through your ceiling, walls and floor. The curse of the boutique hotel, in many ways, because they are so often fashioned from old buildings that are completely unfit for purpose. (‘Where shall we put this hotel, Pierre?’ ‘Ah, fear not Marie-Cecile, for I have found the perfect building. It is two hundred years old, with about the same level of sound-proofing as a shoebox and it even has a very small chimney we could convert into a lift shaft.’) But this quirkiness is what makes many boutique hotels so charming and, more importantly, cheaper to stay in. They are usually in cool areas and have some kind of trendy drinking or eating place attached to them and they make up for what they lack in proper comfort by adding heaps of style and pizazz. So if you’re initially disappointed in your boutique-y hotel by the constant plumbing noise or the fact that there are no toiletries in the bathroom to nick, you may find yourself later won over (or not) by the bohemian charm and stylish atmosphere.
The Hotel Amour won me over. It grew on me. Despite the fact that my room (304) had the elevator shaft running up and down beside it, I slept well and ate well and felt more or less at home. Which is, mainly, what you want from a hotel, isn’t it? I had to sleep with earplugs in, but I’ll stress that my head was directly next to the lift and so there were no surprises there. In the end my brain kind of got used to the noise and blanked it out, but I would say that if you book in then specifically request a room away from the lift. (That almost halves your options, so book early and be firm!)
Right, on to penises. Look away if you hate them or have some kind of unfortunate phobia, or simply don’t want to have to look at penises first thing in the morning.
If you don’t want to look at penises first thing in the morning then I feel your pain – I was confronted by “Dickey Mouse” after arriving, weary and slightly bad-tempered, at about 11am. I had been up since 5.45. (So had Mickey, apparently.) Now I’m not a prude, not in the slightest, but I just feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with sticking a willy on Mickey. He’s a child’s cartoon character for Pete’s sake! Is that just me? Am I over-sensitive in my old age? I was very tempted to hang my scarf over the end of his (quite disproportionate) member. The penis theme continued in my room – here’s a little glimpse of my wall/ceiling paper:
Can you spot the phallic symbols and, indeed, the actual phallus in the top right-hand corner? If you want the full effect of this wallpaper then check out THIS shot – I’ve borrowed it from their website:
Whoa mama! It was quite something, I tell you. I can imagine that if you weren’t travelling alone (as I so often am) and were in Paris for Vin Rouge and high jinx, this would be a hoot. Each of the rooms in the hotel is completely different – individually styled and ranging from shabby chic, with a vintaged feel, to full-on craziness. The sexy-time theme comes from – I assume – the fact that the hotel is in the Pigalle area. Not my favourite Parisian district, but colourful and lively and with a kind of bawdy, in-your-face attitude when it comes to its raunchy history. (Think Moulin Rouge, the Museum of Eroticism and plenty of sex shops.)
There’s a definite vibe going down at the Amour; the bar and restaurant on the ground floor is excellent – great food, good wine selection and a warm, buzzy atmosphere. It’s primed for people-watching and there’s a brilliant outdoor garden that I imagine is very popular in the summertime. It was actually rammed to full capacity (sorry) even on the cool, October night that I stayed. If you do happen to be travelling alone then you don’t feel at all conspicuous sitting at dinner tout seul – there were lots of people with books out or their iPads propped up on the table, sat having cheese and wine. I wrote 3,000 words into my laptop as I guzzled down a supremely greasy and wonderful cheeseburger with fries and about seventeen gallons of wine. It was actually a very productive evening!
Rooms at the Amour start from €115 for a single; my penis room costs from €165. That is very good value for Paris, from my experience at any rate. Don’t expect Hermes bath oil (or a television) but do expect lively evenings and quirky touches.
You can look at the Hotel Amour website here: hotelamourparis.fr