is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.



Built in 1926, Hotel Bastille Boutet originally housed a wood manufacturer, then in 1944 the Maison Boutet Swiss chocolate factory. In 2015, the nearby Ecole Boulle school of fine arts helped renovate the building into its current hotel incarnation. Nods to the building’s history are peppered throughout; from the black-and-white photographs of woodworking tools hung in-room, to the chocolate box wallpaper in the lifts, to the mixture of industrial and art deco design styles.


In the central 11th arrondissement on one of Paris’ oldest thoroughfares, and just a 15-minute walk from Place de la Bastille where the French Revolution kicked off. Bastille’s cobblestone passageways are home to cabinetmakers, chisellers, upholsterers and other craftsmen, as well as chic boutiques and restaurants representing every corner of the globe. A short walk from the buzzing Marais neighbourhood, it’s where much of the creative energy in Paris is centred.


Once you have finished admiring the restored art deco facade, the first thing you’ll notice on entering Boutet’s light-filled lobby is that the mosaic tiles behind the front desk mirror the pattern on the (very polite) staff’s silk neck scarves. It’s a sign of the level of attention to detail here, which you’ll continue noting as you walk up the spiral staircase and through the wood-panelled corridors to your room. Before you do, though, there is a drink to be had at the small Bar du Boutet in the lobby – a cocktail, a detox juice, or an infamously rich Boutet hot chocolate. Downstairs in the skylight-lit blue and white-tiled wellbeing area you’ll find an indoor pool, fitness centre, wooden sauna, hammam steam room, two luminotherapy showers, and two treatment rooms where you can indulge in a signature 90-minute antioxidising cocoa oil massage.


Boutet’s 80 rooms and suites include two signature suites designed by the Ecole Boulle students: the Ebony Suite, with bachelor pad vibes thanks to an abundance of dark wood and velvet, and the Teak Suite, designed as a series of interconnecting boxes. My suite, one of 10 opening onto a plant-smattered terrace overlooking Paris’ rooftops, is flooded with light thanks to high ceilings and wide glass doors leading onto the terrace. The wooden floors, cupboards and bedhead combine with white walls and steel and glass accents to create an understated elegance. The minibar is stocked with Laurent Perrier champagne and Badoit water; there is a Nespresso machine, a JBL docking station and all the usual mod cons. I spend a delightful postprandial hour lazing in the bubbling bathtub, then melt into the signature Sofitel My Bed in dressing gown and slippers while munching the delicious truffles left at turndown. Sleep is deep: the location may be central, but this street is quiet.


Aside from light meals served at the lobby Bar du Boutet, there isn’t an option for in-house dining here – not that it matters, in this gastronomically rich neighbourhood. The in-house breakfast, though, is great – a selection of everything from homemade pastries, organic fruit and yoghurt and fresh juices, to scrambled eggs, sauteed vegetables, pancakes and more.


Wander down adjacent Rue Paul Bert and choose between picturesque Parisian bistros, or head to La Belle Equipe for lunch among the hipsters. Bastille’s laneways are filled with fantastic vintage stores like Le 19 and Le Vestiaire de Yasmine, and delightful boutiques like plant and interiors store Boutique Les Fleurs on Rue De Trousseau, while Rue de Charonne holds more upmarket boutiques like Isabel Marant and Repetto. Take the 20-minute walk to the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery, to visit the graves of Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Chopin and more. For dining, you’re spoilt. An unforgettable experience is to be had in Septime’s seasonal degustation; for something more casual try Paris Hanoi for tasty Vietnamese, hip Waly Fay for west African cuisine, or Louie Louie for pizzas and cocktails.


The perfect nook to restore and revitalise in after a day spent pounding Paris’ pavements, while being in a central location in an up-and-coming neighbourhood.


Sofitel Bastille Boutet MGallery, 22-24 Rue Faidherbe, Paris, France. Rooms from $330 a night. Phone +33 1 40 24 65 65 or see


The hammam. Is there any better way to work off that extra croissant you had at breakfast?


The lack of an in-house restaurant could be a downer for more lengthy stays.


Four out of five stars.


The writer was a guest of Sofitel MGallery.


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