How A Slower Pace Of Life Inspired A New Boutique Hotel In The Heart Of Paris

After two years of work, the Elysée Mermoz is Paris’s 8th arrondissement becomes Nuage, a boutique hotel with 27 rooms including five suites. A third-generation owner, Olivier Breuil inherited the hotel from his father, but it wasn’t until Breuil reached his early 30s that he returned to Paris and felt the pull of hospitality. Working alongside the architect and designer Jordane Arrivetz, Breuil gutted the entire property and created a haven of serenity and calm amidst the tumult of one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

“We wanted to create a place that breaks with the consumerist turmoil in the Champs-Elysées district.”—what does this mean and how do you achieve this?

Olivier Breuil: When we first began working on this project four years ago, a quote from Tom Ford immediately guided us: “Time and silence are the most luxurious things today.” Nuage is located on the lower part of the Champs Elysées, a neighborhood boasting spectacular architecture, luxury shops, glamorous rooftops, five-star hotels and their Michelin-starred restaurants. We wanted to offer a different kind of luxury, anchored by a calm and welcoming atmosphere. Our library is filled with poetry and art, along with our small cinema, our aim is to stimulate guests while also providing a moment to pause, before returning to everything Paris has to offer.

“For each project, I am inspired by the site”—what inspired you about this site and how is the reflected in the end product?

Jordane Arrivetz: The design is striped back to the essentials: white walls act as a display for the furniture and art, the beautiful woodwork stands on its own. Each room is different, which reinforces the feeling of home.

You offer a concierge service that advises guests on unique walks around Paris. What are some of your favourites and what can you teach or show your guests about Paris that might surprise them?

OB: We are actually currently working on a Slow Paris guide in collaboration with the journalist Rebecca Leffler, slated for release before the end of this year. Slow Paris doesn’t mean seeing the city at a snail’s pace. It just means knowing when to speed up and slow down and seeing the city from different perspectives.

For example: Why not visit the Centre Pompidou (without queueing) to see just one painting, but stare at it for an hour and allow all of the emotions it provokes. Then leave and continue to absorb the experience as you savour a pastry from a nearby bakery on a park bench? And while others may choose to take selfies from the top of the Eiffel Tower, why not snap the monument from a bridge on the Seine just before sunrise with no one around to photobomb other than perhaps a wandering pigeon?

What is your favourite place in the hotel?

OB: I love to sit in the lobby bar at a small table by the library, slightly withdrawn, flipping through the pages of a nearby book. Otherwise, you might find me observing clients as they move through the hotel, sometimes taking the time to stop and chat.

Your hotel focuses on local networks and eco-responsibility. How do you choose the people and brands you work with?

OB: Whether it’s Terre de Mars for our welcome amenities, Terre de Café for our coffee, or Vapodil for dry steam cleaning, all of these companies take pride in caring for people and the environment.

There is a thread running through your design of feeling at ease and at home—“From Botticino marble to light oak and a carpet that makes you ‘want to kick your shoes off immediately.’”—how do you balance elegance and comfort?

JA: The link between elegance and comfort is made through the materials. Working with beautiful materials is what gives a project its sensuality: the touch, the smells, the vibration of light. For me, elegance and comfort are not necessarily antonyms, they are what define design.

Tell me about the Water Bar and why that was an important space to have in the property?

OB: The Water Bar has become a coveted breakfast offering, whereby we present guests with flavored waters depending on the season: waters infused with cucumber; fennel and mint; or cinnamon, ginger and orange, to name a few.

You have a screening room—why was this a space you wanted to include and what can guests expect in the coming months from the programme in the cinema?

OB: The cinema feels like the hotel’s heartbeat. The original owner of the hotel, whom my grandfather purchased the property from in the 1950s, used to own movie theaters all along the Champs Elysées, so it’s a bit of an ode to the hotel’s past life. The cinema is reserved for hotel guests, who can privatize the space for a few hours, watch a movie from our large selection of DVDs or via one of our streaming platforms.

We’ll occasionally organize private screenings as well. For example, we’ll soon be welcoming the French artist Emmanuel Rivière, who will be showing his film which pays tribute to his father who was a blind sculptor.

What might surprise people to learn about running a family business?

OB: A hotel that has been passed down through three generations, is filled with history and stories. I have placed a few old photographs in the lobby to make this connection known. Recently, I heard from a hotel guest how he’s been coming to the hotel for such a long time that he knew my grandfather well! Most current employees knew and worked with my father, and I know that a big part of what motivates them about this hard and demanding job has to do with the respect they still have for him. That makes a place unique, and guests can feel it right away.

I imagine you travel a fair bit—what do you always have in your suitcase?

OB: I always travel with my earplugs. They are perfectly adapted to my ears and seamlessly wrap around my neck with an elastic band. I love to swim in the sea, rivers, and lakes. Earplugs can also help me fend off (unpleasant) surrounding sounds, like snoring!

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