Paris’s Literary Hotel, a Room (and Writer) for Each Letter of the Alphabet
(But Are You Sure You Want to Stay in the Kafka Room?)
Located in Paris’s chic 8th arrondissement, just a short walk from the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the River Seine, sits a four-star luxury boutique hotel. From the outside, nothing in particular sets this hotel apart from any other in the surrounding neighborhood. The inside contains all of the amenities one expects from such an upscale enterprise: the top suites boast panoramic views of the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais; each room contains a plasma screen TV connected to satellite; a 24-hour concierge service books tickets to the theater, ballet, or opera for guests, or makes reservations at a local restaurant or swanky Parisian nightclub.
But stay for the night, and you’ll notice what really makes Le Pavillon des Lettres different from other hotels in the city. There are 26 guest rooms in the building, one for each letter of the alphabet, and each room is dedicated to a notable author from European literary history (B for Baudelaire, H for Hugo, S for Shakespeare…). This unique layout makes Le Pavillon des Lettres the first of its kind: a literary hotel right in the center of the City of Lights.
“I would say that each room is linked with the author’s personal invitation to travel or to dream,” says Benoit Saudemont, assistant manager of Le Pavillon des Lettres. “The words of the author are written by hand on the wall of the headboard and one sentence [is] on the glass door of the bathroom. The author’s book is placed on the bedside table so that our guests can read an extract before sleep, and for a souvenir as well!”
Saudemont has been on staff at the hotel for five years, practically since it opened. He started out as a team supervisor and now helps oversee a small staff of twelve. “I really enjoy working in this hotel, which is so particular and unique, such a great environment [to work in],” he says.
Le Pavillon des Lettres is privately owned and operated by the Chevalier family, who own two other Parisian hotels: Le Pavillon de la Reine in the Place des Vosges, and Hôtel du Petit Moulin on the Rue du Poitou. Les Pavillon des Lettres was born when the Chevalier family bought a third hotel in 2009. At the time, it was a 3-star establishment with about 30 rooms and a boulangerie in the corner.
French architect and designer Didier Benderli, founder of Kerylos Interiors, implemented the renovation and new design. “The idea to have a theme hotel was there at the beginning,” says Saudemont. “The Chevalier family is very fond of decoration, architecture, arts and literature. As the renovated hotel would be composed of 26 rooms, they thought about the alphabet, and the idea of having one letter and one author per room came up.”
Aside from the rooms, the hotel offers guests all of the typical comforts of a home away from home. “What strikes our guests when they discover the hotel is the ambience,” says Saudemont. “There is a subtle mix between a modern design and an elegant decoration. They directly get [this] in our lounge with the library, a fireplace, velvet armchairs and dim lights. [It’s] a cozy atmosphere and sophisticated as well: custom furniture, sculptures, and unique art objects.” The environment makes anyone comfortable for an evening in, whether they’re enjoying a book in the lounge or sharing a drink with a friend at the honesty bar. “The hotel is romantic, and as many guests would say, the hotel is Paris,” says Saudemont.
As of earlier this year, guests can also now order books directly to their rooms, thanks to a new literary room service program. Titles include fashion books and biographies of notable Parisians, as well as classics from the authors whose names adorn the rooms. “The literary room service came with a partnership we started with the Galignani bookseller,” says Saudemont. “We worked with them to have new books in our own library on different areas (Fashion, Paris, Arts and Architecture, mainly). We wanted the guests to have [books] at their total disposal either in the lounge or in the room… In order to have a book upon request, you [simply] call the room service,” he says.
Of course, it would be a shame to be in Paris and stay inside reading all day. Le Pavillon des Lettres is ideally placed for a stroll to some of the city’s most famous landmarks, like the Champs-Elysées, the Jardin des Tuileries, and the Louvre. “Thanks to our central location, we have reached the interest of our corporate neighbors and leisure guests coming for the Fashion week and Arts shows in the Grand Palais, or for sightseeing or shopping at Faubourg Saint Honoré and Madeleine Square,” says Saudemont. The hotel itself also occasionally offers literary-themed excursions, or language lessons to assist tourists. “We always try to innovate and offer a special experience to our guests. Lately we organized a French lesson in our lounge to learn some basic [French] in a playful way,” Saudememont says, adding, “We also did a tour of the writers houses in the St. Germain district.”
Interested in staying at Le Pavillon des Lettres? An overnight stay in one of “Les Littéraires” (Superior rooms) will set you back around 225 euros (about $267) per night.