The Villa Saint Germain is nestled in an alley behind the church of Saint Germain des Prés. It was once very well known for its jazz club, and although this venue so beloved of fans of the genre has been closed for years, its famous name lives on in the hotel. Renovations carried out in 2001 gave the establishment a modern look based on a minimalistic design. This is a small, family-owned establishment without much in the way of communal space; instead, proud of the neighbourhood in which it is located, it actively encourages its guests to get out and about to make the most of the many attractions of the City of Light.
The hotel stands in a very central location, in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, a two-minute walk from Saint Germain des Prés metro station on line 4. To get to the two airports, you will need to make one change onto RER line B. Allow at least 50 minutes to get to Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, and a little less for Orly. The Seine is a 10-minute walk away, and you then just need to cross the Pont des Arts bridge to get across to the Louvre.
The many cafes lining Rue de Buci are just a stone's throw away. Lots of Parisians (both true Parisians and newcomers) like to meet here on Saturday evenings.
Just next to the breakfast room in the basement, management has decided to transform a meeting room into a little spa. When we visited, at the end of February 2010, work had not yet begun, but the plan was to include massage beds and a little sauna in the facility. We were curious to know just how all this could be squeezed into such a tiny area. Watch this space...
From Rue Saint Jacob, the hotel can be distinguished by its window, through which you can see into the lounge. You are welcomed at reception, which is located in one of the numerous communal spaces made available for guests. Behind the picture window, a bar and lounge area run parallel to the street, providing somewhere to relax. However, the message is pretty clear: given the very central location of the hotel and the many bars, clubs and cafes in the district, you are better off getting out and about than hanging around inside.
The hotel has 31 guest rooms grouped into various categories spread over five floors. If the charm of sleeping in the garret of a Parisian building has always been an appealing prospect for you, the guest rooms on the fourth and fifth floors occupy this space directly under the roof.
Rooms in the 'comfort' category, which offer the most basic level of luxury, are small to say the least, measuring barely 10m². However, they are nice spaces with contemporary furniture and little square windows overlooking the street.
All of the rooms are decorated in a modern style featuring subdued colours and contemporary accessories in order not to clutter up the space. The bathrooms also feature designer touches, like the trendy bars of soap and the transparent wash basin. As for the junior suites, their main drawback is their size, because they measure no more than 35m², and the bathroom is especially small for this category. On the plus side, they are nicely positioned on the corner of the building between Rue Bonaparte and Rue Jacob, and boast fashionable decor and big windows that let in lots of light.
We liked the original way in which the room numbers are displayed on the floor in front of the doors and illuminated with an unusual lighting effect.
The hotel does not have a restaurant, but there is a breakfast room in the basement. The architect has cleverly included a half-open staircase leading from reception to the room below, which allows the space to benefit from some natural light. The rest of the lighting is completely artificial. The dark wood tables and velvet armchairs go hand in hand with the modern style seen elsewhere in the hotel.
The American breakfast is available from 7:15am to 10:30am, and consists of sweet and savoury specialities (including the hotel's famous pastries). We thought the buffet looked a bit small for 31 rooms, because if all the guests decide to get up at the same time, the queue could get pretty long...
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