For what French students pay to study for a year at the Sorbonne (this being France), you can stay a few nights next door at this lively "design" hotel two minutes from the Jardin du Luxembourg. Don't spend too much time reading the prose on the hallway carpets or admiring each floor's photo collection because you'll want plenty of time to explore the Latin Quarter.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Its lively location in front of the Sorbonne University means some street noise. Windows are double glazed, but if you want to be sure of total peace, request a room facing the quiet courtyard.
The rooms can be rather small, with plush beds taking up much of the space, and vivid color schemes dangerously teetering on garish. All rooms are furnished with a Mac computer that doubles as a TV with lots of English language channels to choose from.
Rooms on the sixth floor have awesome views of the Panthéon.
Modern baths are compact, with bath and hand shower or walk-in shower (a clawfoot tub in the top-floor suites) and very clean, but shelf space is almost nonexistent. Bigelow bath products are a nice touch.
A small reception area opens onto the lobby-lounge, with comfortable seating that displays the same clashing motifs and brazen colors as the rooms, making it feel a tad outdated.
The bright downstairs breakfast room is a cheerful place to tuck into your buffet breakfast, which is ample but standard, except for the griddle for do-it-yourself eggs or pancakes.
The nearby Place Sorbonne has plenty of great cafés that cater to students if you feel like venturing out of the hotel. Or grab a to-die-for pastry at Sébastian Dégardin (200 rue Saint-Jacques), a quick walk away, and head to the park.
The nearest metro is a 10-minute walk to Odéon or to the cross-town metro at Cluny-La Sorbonne. The hotel is a few minutes walk to the Luxembourg RER station that takes you to both airports.
Les Papilles cave à manger (a few minutes away, at 30 rue Gay-Lussac) is as Parisian as it gets but be sure to reserve in advance. Le Pré Verre is also a neighborhood favorite, with well-priced wines by the glass and a good prix fixe menu. For one of Paris's truly great views and good Middle Eastern fare, we love nearby Le Zyriab restaurant, at the top of the Musée du Monde Arabe. It's also a great spot for afternoon tea out on the terrace.
You can join in the revelry at the bars and cafés lining the Rue Soufflot and the Rue de Médicis, or for a little nightlife, Little Bastards, a few minutes by foot from the hotel, is the Latin Quarter's newest cocktail bar, specializing in gin and infused vodkas, as well as craft cocktails. It's also open until 4 a.m. on weekends. In nearby Saint Germain, La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (10-minute walk) has a great selection of wines by the glass.
WHY WE LIKE IT
It's fun, it's lively, and it's well located. The design won't appeal to everyone, but the friendliness and service will.