Lotte Jeffs, former deputy editor of ELLE UK, checks into the new Maison ELLE hotel in Paris. Will she love it or loathe it?
Would you stay in a hotel themed around your old place of work? Reminders of past bosses down every corridor, the company logo plastered throughout? This was the predicament I found myself in recently when checking into Maison ELLE in Paris’ 16th arrondissement.
I used to be ELLE magazine’s deputy editor, and I spent six months as its Acting Editor in Chief. It was my dream job, I adored the brand and everything it stood for, and then I was made redundant by the new editor.
But no hard feelings, and after a new editor took over from that one, I began writing for the magazine again and even went back to cover someone’s parental leave.
I still write for ELLE today, in fact I have the byline of the most recent issue’s cover story. So thankfully I wasn’t triggered in any negative way by the fact that the masthead is everywhere at this hotel. I remember when I worked in-house for ELLE, the license of which is owned by the French media company Lagardère, we had many meetings discussing ways to diversify the brand. The actual printed publication is more of a “shop window” these days, in terms of what actually makes money, it’s live events, beauty box subscriptions, merchandise and affiliate links online that have the most potential. Relying on magazine sales alone would be a surefire way to fail.Opening an ELLE branded hotel was one “big idea” we had in these meetings, but we were a long way off making it a reality back in 2017. Now, six years later and with the help of the French hospitality group Valotel (behind Mercure and Ibis) the dream of distilling everything that is stylish and exciting about ELLE including its decades of fashion history (French ELLE launched in 1945) into a physical space has been realised.
And it’s been done brilliantly.I checked in with my Mum for two nights in mid April. The hotel had been open since January 2023. Given my affinity with ELLE I felt instantly at home and that is the raison d’etre of this property – it’s supposed to be a home from home, somewhere to relax after a day shopping, or in our case, enjoying the art galleries. There are iconic images of French ELLE front covers throughout the interiors and complementary artwork all curated by the designers Laurent & Laurence, as Globetrender reported on the hotel’s opening. Behind the reception is an ELLE boutique selling some exclusive Maison ELLE products such as a pilates ball, yoga mat and tracksuit. There’s a small cafe area open for a buffet breakfast and tea in the afternoon. It is possible to order a glass of wine or a cocktail in the evening, but there’s no designated bar area or staff.My favourite of the common areas was the living room, where we sat after dinner one evening, reading by a (decorative) fireplace surrounded by artfully curated bookshelves complete with object d’art and coffee table tomes about stylish Paris life.
Downstairs there’s a tiny spa which you need to book in advance to use. It comprises a sauna and steam room and a small exercise studio. There are mats laid out on the floor in front of a TV screen.The hotel has partnered with a famous French yoga instructor and the idea is you take her classes virtually. The TV wasn’t working for me, which was disappointing, but I just did my own routine.
My mother had an excellent massage. The therapist has designed it especially for Maison ELLE and the flowing movements are softer and more fluid than a regular massage. They use Dr Hauschka products.
Our room on the third floor was small but functional. Shutter windows looked over the quiet street below. The ELLE artwork and fashion illustration added character and the single twin beds were comfortable if extremely narrow, perhaps designed more for size zero models than regular people!There was a writing desk, a smart TV and just enough space to open two suitcases. The bathroom was surprisingly spacious and featured black and white chequerboard tiles and ELLE branded bath products.
Each of the 25 rooms is unique and has a nod to some kind of fashion theme in the soft furnishings – I believe our Premium Room was “check”, another was the iconic Breton Stripe. If this hotel was in the Marais it would be a perfect bolthole for a weekend getaway, but instead it’s in a slightly strange area a short walk from the Arc de Triomph.
The 16th is a residential area which is nice in one way as it adds to the sense of the hotel being someone’s stylish home but if you are an ELLE reading, well-travelled, fashion-loving visitor you might wish it was a little closer to the Left Bank or the chic boutiques in the Marais. The Champs Elyseé, while of course the most famous shopping street, is far from the coolest.
I admired this hotel for its ability to turn a magazine I love into an equally appealing physical space. It’s an interesting exercise in branding and I think very successfully executed.
Apparently there are plans to open a resort in Mexico and I’m told London is also on the wish list for a future development. I just hope wherever ELLE the brand goes next that the print version remains an integral part of it.