With all the erotica in plain view, one wouldn’t call the Hotel Amour, set in a former brothel, the most family-friendly establishment. Nonetheless, the restaurant that takes up most of the lobby and garden is packed with Parisians of all ages for dinner and Sunday brunch, leaving hardly any tables for hotel guests prepared to provide their own distractions because of the absence of TVs or Wi-Fi in the small and, to put it mildly, unconventionally decorated rooms.
This designer budget hotel is the brainchild of Andre Saraiva, a former graffiti artist and nightlife entrepreneur who worked with Parisian artists and designers to pull off an edgy balance of style and substance. Rooms painted in unconventional palettes and decorated with graffiti, and curated flea market and auction finds, vary in their level of provocation, though each could double as a contemporary art gallery installation or soft-porn concept store. While traditional services are nonexistent, the hotel is perfectly located for exploring SoPi, the more upper-crust residential part of the 9th arrondissement just south of the transvestite cabarets and tourist zones of Montmartre, where classical mansions and 19th-century buildings are being colonized by young Parisians and expats opening bars, restaurants, vintage shops, and fashion boutiques.
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Rue de Navarin runs between the Rue des Martyrs and the Rue Henry Monnier, whose former hostess bars and massage parlors are being replaced by coffee houses, artisanal cocktail joints, and restaurants serving craft beer and tapas. Around the corner from the hotel, in a loft-meets-19th-century boudoir space, Pigalle (7 Rue Henry Monnier) sells edgy men's and women’s clothing from Japan, Europe, and the USA, plus the high-end streetwear house brand inspired by the owner’s Pigalle upbringing. The name is more shocking than the tiki bar vibe at Dirty Dick (10 Rue Frochot). Glazed (54 Rue des Martyrs) does sorbet and ice cream with suggestive names (Black Sugar Sex Magic; Cocaine) and novel flavors (chocolate-wasabi-ginger; coconut-pomelo). If you can use a hit of tradition, Auberge du Clou (30 Avenue de Trudaine) serves authentic Auvergne dishes, including a fantastic aligote—potatoes mashed with garlic and lots of tome cheese. For a taste of old Pigalle, book a dinner show at Cabaret Michou (80 Rue des Martyrs), whose octogenarian proprietor pioneered the transvestite drag show.
Need to Know
Rooms: 24 rooms. From $171. Check-in: 3:30 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The restaurant, which spills outside into a covered courtyard, serves traditional French dishes and open-faced sandwiches and, on Sunday, eggs Benedict and bagel burgers. Spa and gym details: There is neither a gym nor a spa. For exercise, one can run uphill on des Martyrs to Sacre Coeur Cathedral.
Who’s it for: Singles and couples who don’t mind the tight guestrooms and are unfazed by the front-desk sculpture of Mickey Mouse with a giant erection or chairs in the form of male genitalia. Our favorite rooms: Each is different. Number 401, a Superior Room overlooking the garden, has black-painted walls and an array of disco balls over the bed. Two sky-lit Duplex Rooms are more subdued, have huge freestanding baths, and offer far more space for the money than many Paris luxury hotels. Good to know: Don’t trek up the hill to Sacre Coeur at sunset—it’s when the crowds are as thick as Times Square on New Year’s Eve.