As France prepares to welcome back visitors from abroad, former deputy editor of Elle magazine, Lotte Jeffs, reveals how the hyper-elegant JK Place hotel in Paris will win back guests.
Has Covid killed the city break? Maybe. But one thing’s for sure, if you’re one of the post-lockdown crusaders still set on spending each weekend in a different European capital, your expectations will be very different now. Given what’s at stake, you’ll want to make sure even a short hop to Paris is well worth it.
And that will start with staying somewhere like JK Place.
No amount of hand sanitiser and social distancing can diminish the stately luxury of this newly opened, (then shuttered), then to be reopened (on September 1, 2020) hotel. I visited in December of 2019. It was one of those sharply sunny winter days, when the cloudless blue sky seemed specially commissioned for Paris. Who could have predicted that three months later in the grips of a global pandemic, President Macron would order the City of Light to essentially be switched off?
I decided to walk from Gare Du Nord – as I imagine most visitors now will, despite it taking around 45 minutes – and rolled my suitcase over the cobbles of Place Vendome, through the Tuileries and finally to the discretely grand entrance of JK Place.Those familiar with the JK brand will know that the three existing properties occupy the most quietly desirable locations in Rome, Florence and Capri. Its first foray outside of Italy is no exception. In the old Norwegian consulate at 82 rue de Lille, the hotel is five minutes from the Musée d’Orsay in the heart of Saint Germain.
Calling it a “hotel” feels wrong as JK Place evokes a sense of staying in a private residence. There’s no staid reception area, instead I took a seat on a comfy sofa in the living room and flicked through Assouline art books while I was checked in, or more accurately welcomed.It’s sad to think that this warmth of service – an expertly stage-managed blend of friendliness and absolute efficiency – may not be as possible due to new regulations.
A spokesperson for JK Place says: “ It is clear that the JK DNA is founded on human touch and human connection, something that we strongly believe in it, but we have no choice but to adapt to this unprecedented situation hoping for better days to come soon.”In practice this means taking the temperature on a daily basis of all the staff members; and providing them with masks and gloves to wear while working. To avoid crowded changing rooms colleagues will arrive at work in a “staggered” fashion, every 15-20 minutes.
As for the guest experience, no-touch hand gel will be prevalent; rooms will be cleaned with special disinfecting products and cleaners will wear protective equipment.Also, in the works is the use of a certified air conditioning system that sanitises the air throughout the hotel, rooms, lounges, restaurant, spa and of course staff rooms. There will be no touch check-in and check-out; no paper in the rooms; a disposable menu at the restaurant and an app that you can use to see the menu and make your order.Such measures don’t exactly scream La Dolce Vita, but the signature JK ambience will prevail.
The 29 guestrooms are large for Paris, with high-ceilings, walk-in wardrobes and spacious black and white marble bathrooms.My room was chic and well edited, by that I mean not overly styled but precise in its choice of objet d’art and soft furnishings. The four-poster bed was sans canopy adding to the modernity of the décor, and so comfy I almost didn’t make my dinner reservation.
Globetrender-approved touches such as Dyson hairdryers, customised tanned leather Nespresso Machines and ready-charged power banks do not feel anachronistic given the more old-school luxuries of such a property, and instead contribute to the overall vibe of comfort and easiness, something we will be seeking when traveling in this newly restricted age.We will also no doubt be expecting the most deliciously exonerating cocktails to be served at our place of residence, making any potentially arduous element of a journey dissipate with each sip.
JK Place Paris will not disappoint in this respect. The restaurant is a partnership with Casa Tua (current outposts in Aspen and Miami), and serves pitch perfect northern Italian food that changes with the season. At breakfast a pain perdu was forced, not unwillingly, upon me as it is the hotel’s signature dish. I can now vouch for its necessity.
Paris has been gradually reopening since early May and by September should be at least a little closer to its old self. The comfortable splendour of JK Place will, whatever the world outside may next endure, remain an urban sanctuary pioneering a new era of luxury experience.