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Check In, Check Out: Hotel Review: La Belle Juliette, in Paris


Named for a celebrated 18th-century beauty and hostess of a glittering salon frequented by the crème of French society, Hotel La Belle Juliette has 34 rooms (including two comfy apartment-like suites), starting at 300 euros, or $405 at $1.35 to the dollar, a night.


The hotel is designed by Anne Gelbard, and the décor of each floor is inspired by a different chapter in the life of Jeanne Françoise Julie Adélaïde Bernard, known to her friends as Juliette and best known to us today as Madame Récamier, from the famous portrait by Jacques-Louis David.


A few blocks south of the busiest boulevards of St.-Germain-des-Prés, Rue du Cherche Midi is high on style but short on tourists. If you have a penchant for quaint crêperies, chic hair salons, galleries selling Art Deco furniture and cozy little patisseries, this is your hood. Besides the zone’s famous antiques and boutiques, the Jardin du Luxembourg, Musée d’Orsay and Gare Montparnasse are in walking distance.


My fourth-floor room was decidedly compact but made visually grander with clever moldings that create a paneling effect, done up in a subtle play of muted grays and blues. There were several framed antique prints hanging on the walls and slickly lacquered modern nightstands and consoles in shades like turquoise and chartreuse. Setting off the jaunty mix of colors of the walls and furniture, the simple oak floors gave the room a comfy, unfussy elegance.


This is France, so there are two rooms. First there is the wet area with a sink and a rather smart separate vanity with drawers for guests’ toiletries as well a large, shimmery mosaic-tiled shower. In the opposite corner of the room is the little isolation booth with a toilet. The room faced south so sunlight flooded through a large window into the washroom, making it seem far larger and more luxurious than it really is.


Special in-room features include an iMac computer instead of a television so movies can be downloaded and e-mail easily checked; there’s also a hydro-massage shower with side jets and multiple settings. Down in the basement, there is a lovely spa with treatment rooms, a Turkish bath, a sauna and a small pool equipped with special jets that allow swimming in place. Off the lobby is Talma, the hotel’s bar and restaurant, with décor, accented in hot pink and crimson, meant to be the backdrop for Juliette’s 21st-century salon.


For 25 euros, breakfast for two — a scrumptious selection of breads and pastries, coffee, fresh juices and scrambled eggs — was brought to the room not 10 minutes after it was ordered. Beautifully laid out on two trays that were just the right size for breakfast in bed, it was far superior to the standard coffee, baguette, butter and jam that passes for le petit déjeuner in so many hotel breakfast rooms in the Sixth Arrondissement.


With a plush and inviting atmosphere that’s nice to come home to, and an excellent breakfast — not to mention the basement spa — La Belle Juliette seems like a bargain compared with many similarly priced but less inspired nearby properties.

Hotel La Belle Juliette, 92, rue du Cherche Midi, Paris; (33-1) 42-22-97-40;


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