Part grand château, part private club, Saint James is housed up a candlelit driveway in the sleepy 16th. The recently renovated hotel breathes intimacy: low headcount, high panache.
Guests here are mostly regulars, and mostly French. Central and whisper-private, Saint James is an unabashedly opulent Parisian secret. Substantial members-only facilities enhance the seclusion - you need to be a guest, or a friend of a guest, to dine here.
The premises have been redesigned by New York-born designer Bambi Sloan, whose whimsical and bold sensibilities prove stimulating. Saint James isn’t wanting for old-world Parisian elegance (see the 12,000 book grand library, for starters) but Sloane’s bursts of unabashed cheek imbue the hotel with a unique charisma.
Timeless checkerboard tiling and antique chandeliers are brilliantly augmented by punchy hues and graphic wallpaper. A particular favourite is an 18th century Montgolfier balloon pattern, complete with cartoon monkeys — an ode to the site’s gardens, which once hosted the world’s first hot-air balloons.
Every guest being different, Sloan has ensured that no two suites are identical. Each spacious offering has been built bespoke — a strictly private exhibition for you and the petite amie.
Crisp nights walking the Seine will leave you — and your company — more than ready for an evening tipple. Naturally, Saint James’ cosy bar is as discreet as its surroundings, with a capable selection of spirits. However, Paris being Paris, opt for the champagne cocktails.
What better way to admire a baby grand and the vast literary collection? Be warned — what begins as one quiet drink may develop into a hazy, amorous soirée of unspecified length. You’re welcome.
43 Ave Bugeaud, 75116 Paris, 0845 034 0700 (mrandmrssmith.com)
Words by Adam Baidawi