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Hotel Atel Relais St Germain Hotel 4 star
Easyexperts
9 Carrefour De L Odeon Paris, France -
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Amy Adejokun Section editor

Upon entering this hotel, you find yourself in the kind of English cottage setting that could grace the pages of a Lewis Carroll novel, somewhere between a perfectly real building and the product of a colourful imagination. There is nothing imaginary about the fact that the Relais Saint-Germain exists, though, proudly nestled away in an asymmetrical 17th century building with walls at all angles. This shortcoming is limited to the 17th century architecture, though, because inside, the facilities of the Relais make it every inch a 21st century establishment. The dimensions are small, with everything adjusted to fit exactly into the available space. The hotel is the property of Yves and Claudine Camderborde, a chef and his eclectic wife who has ambitions as an interior decorator. Yves rules the roost at the neighbouring restaurant, Le Comptoir, which has made the hotel a popular port of call with intellectuals and the Parisian fashion world. The Relais Saint-Germain boasts a perfect central location at the heart of the Left Bank area, and is surprisingly original (in a purely positive sense).

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    • Hotel Atel Relais St Germain

      Atel Relais St Germain   -   © EASYVOYAGE

    • Hotel Atel Relais St Germain

      Atel Relais St Germain   -   © EASYVOYAGE

       
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    Location 8.7 /10

    At the centre of Carrefour de l'Odéon (metro lines 4 and 10). A stone's throw from the Sorbonne and 10 minutes from Notre Dame. Saint Michel station is just nearby, and provides direct access to the airport and the Château de Versailles.

    Accommodation 8.20 /10

    The hotel has 22 guest rooms, all decorated differently. Their one common feature is that they were all decorated by Claudine, the owner, who has combed the capital's flea markets hunting down objects to refurbish and decorate the rooms. As you might have guessed, their style is pretty classic, with thick curtains, cushions and antique wood furniture. True to the artistic streak that runs through the history of the Saint Germain district, the beating heart of intellectual life in Paris, each of the doors displays the name of a poet or writer, including Rimbaud, Hemingway and Guy de Maupassant. In a nod to the profession of the owner Yves Camderborde, a chef from the south west of France, homage is also paid to Maurice Edmond Sailland, who was nicknamed 'Curnonsky' and is also known as the 'Prince of Gastronomy'. The corridors are very narrow and follow the design of the rest of the building, and quotations of the authors mentioned above adorn the walls, heralding your arrival at each room.

    The bedrooms are completely asymmetrical, and the original wooden beams are exposed, giving particular charm to the three buildings that make up the Relais. The classic decor is suited to guests not particularly enamoured with clean designer lines but looking instead to experience a more historically European setting. The hotel is also a hit with Americans.

    We liked the Marcel Aymé room, which is the smallest in the hotel and can be found, in true 'Left Bank' style, up in the attic. It has the luxury of opening onto a little private balcony with a view over the roofs of the city, which is wonderful.

    Overview 7.95 /10

    In the middle of Carrefour de l'Odéon, there is an eye-catching shiny little red door in an asymmetrical medieval building. Next-door is the restaurant, Le Comptoir, which is packed out all year round. If you sit on the terrace, red blankets are provided to keep off the cold. The Relais Saint-Germain has something of an English cottage feel about it, looking like it could have come straight from the pages of a novel. Even the statue at the entrance reinforces its artistic streak... The reception is located inside the entrance area. The hall, bathed in light thanks to its picture window overlooking the street, is decorated with fresh flowers and small statues. It is full of personality and is a friendly, homely setting (thanks in part to the goldfish, Albert) with hints of luxury indicating the high quality services that await.

    Just beside this space, there is a little lounge set in a sort of alcove between the hotel and restaurant. It is a cosy room with low lighting, and is a nice place to put your feet up, though too often full of publishers and journalists.

    Food and drink 8.70 /10

    Le Comptoir is without a doubt the jewel of the hotel. Even though it is a separate entity to the hotel, the restaurant and its chef, Yves Camderborde, are what most people think of when talk turns to the Relais Saint-Germain.

    The chef is from Pau, a city known for the high quality of its food in the south-west of France. He was the son of a pork butcher and a failure at school but went on to build a brilliant career as a chef, during which his talent has taken him to work at the Ritz and Crillon, where he worked alongside Christian Constant.

    The dishes he creates are based on traditional recipes and feature natural ingredients, especially pork (after all, that is what his family do!), which is sent direct to Paris by his brother, who continues to run the family's pork business in Pau. In the evening, he prepares a single menu consisting of five dishes - starter, fish, meat, cheese and dessert - for £44, excluding drinks.

    Consequently, Le Comptoir is always full, and you will have to wait several months for your table reservation in its old-fashioned bistro setting! Even the extra tables that have been added out on the terrace and pavement remain busy throughout the winter! It's just as well that blankets are provided...

    One of the little luxuries enjoyed by guests at the hotel is that breakfast is taken at Le Comptoir, which is reserved for them until 10:30am. A real feast awaits, including tea, coffee, fresh fruit juices, yoghurt, croissants and pastries prepared by the chef himself, as well as Bayonne ham cut in thick slices, just how it should be. It is a real pleasure to eat there before the cheerful crowds descend on the restaurant for lunch and dinner.

    The restaurant, Le Comptoir, of the Relais Saint-Germain. 8, Carrefour de l'Odéon, in the 6th arrondissement.

    To know

    While you wait for a table to become available in the restaurant, Le Comptoir, you can have a drink in the neighbouring delicatessen, the Avant Comptoir. Alternatively you can choose from the various sandwiches here, which are made of excellent quality products selected with the same care and attention as the ingredients in the restaurant. You can choose from pork specialities such as Bayonne ham, sausage from the Aude region, chorizo and coppa made in France, and so on. The ambience is laid back and informal but sophisticated at the same time!

    Equipment

    • Car park
    • Restaurant
    • Internet access
    • Air conditioning
    • Spa

      massage

    • Animals allowed
    • Safe

    advantage

    • The famous restaurant and breakfast.
    • The charming decor of the place.

    disadvantages

    • The ambience is a bit snobby: the hotel is aware of its originality and misses no opportunity to remind you.

    Traveller Reviews

    • Overall Score nc/10
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