By Chadner Navarro
Aug 16, 2022
WHEN KIMPTON ST HONORÉ opened in Paris’s Opera district in summer 2021, it wasn’t just the beautifully reimagined 100-plus-year-old art nouveau building, or the spacious apartment-style suites (some with views of the Eiffel Tower), or the charming little spa featuring skin care treatments by Codage that captured everyone’s attention. Paris locals and visitors alike were totally taken by what was happening on the hotel rooftop.
Kimpton is crowned with an open-air retreat called Sequoia, which offers 360-degree views of the city’s iconic skyline, including the Opera Garnier’s gilded angels looking close enough to touch. (They’re not, do not try.) The elegant 100-square-meter terrace was inspired by the lush symmetry of 18th-century gardens with its mix of Japanese sedge, Chinese silver grass, geraniums, coral bells, and hydrangeas. To modernize the aesthetic, sleek, mostly black-and-white furniture was used throughout. The most clever of these might be the large-scale mirrors built into the space partitions; even if you’re seated with your back to the skyline, you’ll see it reflected through these mirrors. There isn’t a bad seat in the house.
When Sequoia opened last year, DJs set the mood on weekends. This year (from April to around October), however, there are plans to up the ante with live music performances on Sundays to be enjoyed with a curated menu of finger foods and cocktails. For Kimpton, this rooftop became the hotel’s most sought-after amenity. Between the views and the ambience, it’s not hard to see why, but it’s not just Kimpton that’s leaning on rooftops and terraces to seduce foot traffic. In fact, many of Paris’s newest hotels seem to have caught on that an elevated alfresco experience, previously a rarity in this city, is almost as necessary as the bedrooms themselves.
Hôtel Rochechouart, which opened in the 9th arrondissement near Pigalle in late 2020, made sure to activate the rooftop of the art deco townhouse it occupies. At around 90 square meters, this if-you-know-you-know terrace is massive by Parisian standards, and all around are picture-perfect panoramas of Sacré-Cœur, the Eiffel Tower, La Défense, and the cute little buildings of Montmartre. What’s great about it, too, is that guests can use it almost exclusively outside of service hours, making it a hidden hangout for when you want to briefly break away from the city. Fig trees as well as rosemary, lavender and raspberries shrubs perfume the rooftop with a sweet mélange of wild aromas that only add to the secret-garden vibe of the space.
Rochechouart celebrated the start of terrace season by reintroducing rooftop lunches. The hotel brought back the Green Egg grill for a unique take on a Parisian brunch: Barbecue. On weekends, everything from steak to lobster to vegetables is grilled to order. But it’s not just for daytime. There are bartenders mixing drinks and slinging Champagne (which pairs fabulously with the chicken and veggie gyoza) well into the night.
Another buzzy hotel debut came in October 2021 when Madame Rêve, the No. 1 hotel in Paris according to Travel + Leisure‘s 2022 World’s Best Awards, opened inside the historic Poste du Louvre in the first arrondissement near the Bourse de Commerce. It has 83 stylishly rendered rooms (53 of them have balconies) and its cafe has firmly become a see-and-be-seen hot spot. And things only got better this spring when its rooftop concept was finally unveiled. Much like the other rooftops mentioned, Madame Rêve’s is going to be a verdant affair with numerous cherry trees making it look like a mini-forest lording over Paris.
The high-profile reveal of Cheval Blanc right on top of Seine included one of the most spectacular hotel pools around, a Christian Dior spa, and four different culinary spaces, one of which is Le Tout-Paris, an all-day brasserie that’s more elevated terrace than rooftop. Nonetheless, the views here have made it one of the most spectacular places to watch the sun set.
But it’s not all DJs and cocktails. Some of these spaces have been created as quiet hideaways from the dynamic energy of the City of the Light. Yes, Madame Rêve’s rooftop has a fully equipped bar (and the fashionable scene that will no doubt come to it), but it also includes a hotel-guest-only solarium, where you can while away a sunny morning on bright-yellow lounge chairs before striking out a perfectly Paris day of museum-hopping. On the other side of the river in the 15th arrondissement, Hotel Wallace, which opened in November 2021, transformed a rooftop into a quaint wellness terrace, complete with a dry sauna and a soaking hot tub, from which you can see the highest tip of the Eiffel Tower.
Wallace’s cozy home-away-from-home ethos is further amplified by this unique amenity, where guests can wind down from a full day of sightseeing. There are lounge chairs and a few cushioned seats, too, because once it’s time for an aperitivo, the staff can come up to deliver cocktails, Champagne, and rillettes just to round out this indulgent fantasy. Because truly, what’s a trip to Paris without a bit of indulgence?