Famed designer Martin Brudnizki takes on Paris, with two new hotels that usher in a new aesthetic era.
"It's about escapism," Martin Brudnizki said of the two hotels that mark his hospitality debut in Paris.
Brudnizki, the Swedish-born, London-based interior designer and renowned architect behind exclusive establishments such as Los Angeles private members' club, The Britely at Pendry West Hollywood, and the new Vesper Bar at The Dorchester, recently brought his signature aesthetic to the City of Light. He designed La Fantaisie, in Paris's ninth arrondissement and Le Grand Mazarin, in the Marais, both of which opened this fall.
Escapism is precisely where Brudnizki's talent lies — not just in furnishing a hotel, but in constructing a world, with a touch of theatrical flair that immerses travelers in a more fun and beautiful world.
For La Fantaisie (nightly rates from $603), a 73-key hotel nestled on Rue Cadet, Brudnizki engages guests in a sophisticated, lush, and tranquil setting, a stark contrast to the area's busy cityscape of Haussmann buildings, restaurants, theaters, bars, and historic landmarks.
Inspired by the street's history, named after brothers Jean and Jacques Cadet, skilled gardeners who blanketed the city in blooms in the 16th century, Brudnizki and his team put greenery at the heart of their design. They created a stunning garden for the hotel, a rarity in this part of Paris.
"Our approach was to create a space that welcomes everyone, that makes everyone feel relaxed," Brudnizki explained. To do this — and to soften the rigid lines of a newly built hotel — he infused the space with patterns of leaves and flowers.
Instead of a classic painted plaster wood ceiling in the lobby and reception area, he covered it in a tapestry of natural colors. Rich textures and floral upholstery carry the garden theme into the guest rooms. For example, the doors of a closet are covered in elegant Maison Pierre Frey wallpaper inspired by French gardens, while the bathrooms are painted in a soft shade of green paired with gold-hued finishes, marble, and oversized mirrors in wood frames.
"When you're in a room here, you feel like you're part of the outside," Brudnizki added.
Guest rooms have private balconies, Bluetooth speakers, and toiletries by Paris-based holistic beauty line Holidermie, La Fantaisie's exclusive partner that also supplies products for its sumptuous spa, where facilities include a mineral water pool, saunas, and a hammam.
Aside from Brudnizki's lavish interiors, at La Fantaisie, travelers can indulge in classic French dining experiences that include a ground-level café (yes, it has outdoor seating for people-watching) and a beautiful rooftop bar overlooking the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. The star of the food and beverage program is Golden Poppy, the hotel's flagship restaurant by chef Dominique Crenn of San Francisco's Michelin three-starred Atelier Crenn. All three concepts have a Californian feel (Crenn has been a resident of the Golden State since the late 1980s), and the menus revolve around local and sustainable ingredients.
About two miles south of La Fantaisie is Brudnizki's second Parisian project. Located in the chic Marais neighborhood, a gathering point of intellectuals during the French Enlightenment period, Le Grand Mazarin (nightly rates from $739) is housed in three historic buildings at the corner of Rue des Archives and Rue de la Verrerie. The hotel is decidedly more residential and intimate in feel; it draws inspiration from 18th-century salons when writers, artists, and philosophers met in the private residences of well-off Parisians to discuss world affairs, literature, arts, and culture.
"The Marais is a very old Bohemian [neighborhood]. It was this mixture of artists and aristocrats," Brudnizki said. "We tried to create a community, a space where people can meet because that's what the salon is all about — people meet, have discussions, have a great dinner and drinks, and have fun. So, we want this hotel to be part of the community."
In order to make the 50-room, 11-suite property feel like a home, Brudnizki tapped into France's Decorative Arts tradition and incorporated plenty of tapestries, passementeries, and different patterns in a variety of colors. ("It's everything everywhere," Brudnizki said of his use of color.)
Maisons Pariente, which owns and operates the hotel, emphasized art as a central theme in the concept. As a result, the property features hundreds of vintage and custom-made pieces of furniture produced by companies with the Entreprises du Patrimoine Vivant label (a.k.a. companies using exquisite materials, techniques, and savoir faire that often have been in business for hundreds of years). There's also contemporary artwork by artists such as Jacques Merle and Sophia Pega, which work together to create Brudnizki's version of 18th-century joie de vivre style. Wallpaper inspired by book-lining fabrics, bathroom mirrors in the shape of human silhouettes, and crystal light fixtures add a touch of whimsy to the sophisticated decor.
Two bars and a restaurant enhance Le Grand Mazarin's concept of a gathering space. Boubalé, the hotel's eatery, which translates to "little darling" in Yiddish, is spearheaded by Israeli chef Assaf Granit, behind Michelin-starred Shabour, who treats patrons to traditional Ashkenazi flavors with a modern twist.
One thing 18th-century most salons probably lacked? A swimming pool like the one in the hotel's wellness area with a spectacular ceiling fresco inspired by the works of French poet Jean Cocteau.
"It's about an immersion. You walk into this space, and you're part of a different story that will transport you to a different time, a different world," Brudnizki added.
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