Why the Saint James Paris?
A prestige hotel in a park in the heart of Paris..?. A great restaurant, complete with a terrace..? A private club..? It is all of those things, and much more! Part château, part family townhouse, a blend of grandeur and intimacy, of classicism and extravagance… Highly Parisian yet decidedly beyond fashion…
The Saint James Paris is a unique on-the-rocks formula, a cocktail of elegance, humour and fantasy, to be enjoyed without moderation!
In 1892, the widow of former President of the Republic Adolphe Thiers commissioned the construction of the Thiers Foundation in tribute to her husband, as the location of the first Paris airfield, where Montgolfier balloons used to depart from.
Then for a long time it was a hostel to science students.
From 1985 to 1991, the building was purchased by various British companies and was turned into a private club, very much in line with the traditional Gentlemen’s circles so famous in London.
In 1991, The Bertrand Family, who already owned the 4-star Relais Christine Hotel in Saint Germain, acquired the Saint James Club and proceeded to develop it into a hotel. Then in 2008, while planning a complete makeover of the building, the Bertrand Family was entranced by the poetic, wild-eyed vision of unorthodox interior designer Bambi Sloan. So much so that they gave her unconditional carte blanche to stage the new spirit of the Saint James Paris: the scene was set – it was to be an extravagant Family Townhouse!
In 2011, the new Saint James Paris opened its doors, revealing a most special kind of hotel.
Named after a doe, busy as a bee and brimming with Anglo-Saxon imagination, Bambi Sloan, the interior designer, is the kind of outlandish character that can only stem from a succession of different lives: raised in New York City from a French/American family and an oddball, artistic background… An early vocation as a ballerina hindered by injury… Art studies at the Fine Arts School and Arts Deco School in Paris, and the Graphic Arts School in New York. Day jobs in advertising agencies and major US magazines. Setting up a fashion PR and events agency… There is no doubt that she enjoys a wide range of skills and experience!
Ever since childhood, Bambi has had a pronounced taste for mix-and-match reused items in decoration, as well as a leaning towards bohemian and surrealist themes.
Her first decorating assignment for Harry’s Social Club in London was opened to the public in December 1999 and gained her instant fame, leading to a slew of orders as early as January 2000. Every time, Bambi takes over the premises, gives them a special kind of spirit, and creates a wholly unexpected universe sprinkled with eccentricity and humour. And every time, she succeeds in inventing a new and striking equation, full of wit and originality, and invariably convivial.
Paying due respect to the building’s intrinsic splendour and with more than a touch of impertinence regarding the interior design, she proceeded to offer her romantic interpretation of some residence belonging to an original, enlightened preeminent 19th-century bourgeois family.
Taking Napoleon III style as a starting point, which she describes as a “pileup of all styles”, the designer has blended reality, and historical, movie and literary references. Accordingly, we note the inspiration from My Fair Lady and Ascot races in the lobby, Visconti’s The Leopard for the velvet drapes and damask, a nod to Thiers Foundation students with the “literary marble” bookbinding-style wallpaper on columns and walls, the Montgolfier balloon wallpaper reminding us of the locale’s early origins, and the panther carpeting as a reference to Josephine de Beauharnais, the first eccentric to have used such a motif as decoration.
Sloan’s highly personal vision shakes up all styles, periods and sources of inspiration. The decoration at the Saint James Paris is an inimitable, unexpected and delightful cocktail, providing a timeless, unclassicable ambience.
As with a private house, Bambi has dressed up the rooms one by one, choosing the appropriate fabric, furniture, paintings and special adornments for each one, often bargain-hunting across France and abroad to find that rare piece. Blending charm and treasures, originality and sentimentality, authentic pieces and second editions… Mixing fabrics from preeminent manufacturers, Lelièvre, Pierre Frey and Designer’s Guild… Assembling an entire family of ancestor portraits in the dining room… Taming the panther motif so it runs along the library floor and the lounge’s armchairs… Manipulating trompe-l’œil with exclusive “Burgundy stone” or “herringbone parquet” carpeting, guaranteed to take you by surprise… Sprucing up the 300-m2 terrace with painted metal plant furniture, mini-greenhouses and Montgoler balloons.
a Setting for a luncheon on the grass… Oh, and the grass? Well, another trompe-l’œil actually – it is faux English turf, forever green.
The entrance to the Saint James Paris causes the first visual shock, plunging you into some other world, beyond space and time. The lobby is all black and white, every bit a chic tuxedo jostled by pop art. Then there is a deliberate optical play on mirrors multiplying special effects of randomly-striped balusters, black-rimmed mouldings like so many velvet-lined frills all drawn into a dizzying kaleidoscope of floors rising to infinity. Dead centre, a “chaos of chandeliers” splashes its cascades of light across the entrance, while the red-carpeted stairway provides a touch of movie festival glamour, completing this madly theatrical lobby.
Make no mistake: behind each identical red-lacquered door, there is a unique décor. Each suite is designed as a guest room, and represents a tale staged by Bambi Sloan. The designer has invited her familiar characters to come along, inventing a world that measures up to their charisma. Among the guests, we have John Steed of Avengers fame, whose room is all striped flannel and English fabric, with a nod to Magritte… The last Queen of Scotland, whose décor mixes tartan and panther patterns… Madeleine Castaing, the eccentric designer whom Bambi greatly admires… The Leopard and its princely quarters…
With a slew of references, hints, highly personal items bargain-hunted during trips to the Paris Flea Market or elsewhere, every room is a small, sentimental theatre, worked out into the smallest details, right down to the customised light switches. Humour is an added bonus.
The Saint James Paris combines all of the services of a château-hotel, the privileges of a private club and the charm of a preeminent family home. It is a fabulous venue and a true feast for the senses. For the mind and for conversation, follow the mythical library and the bar, lounges and meeting rooms… For gastronomic pleasures, visit the gourmet restaurant… For a breath of nature, the large terrace in the centre of the park… For fitness and beauty care, the spa with its precious care cabins, hammams and fitness centre… As for the rest, there are the 49 rooms and suites walled with beautiful dreams and jealously guarding their special secrets!
t the Saint James Paris, we are used to little whims and follies. The park features three Montgoler – arbours, not unlike those small 18th- and 19th- century buildings. As for the Concierge Clefs d’Or, he will gladly lend you bicycles or rent you a fully electric BMW i3. Then there is Pilou, a lucky-charm black cat who can be seen freely wandering throughout the hotel, from the bar to the lobby. This is the house cat.
As of January 2017, Jean-Luc Rocha has succeeded Virginie Basselot as the Excecutive Chef of Saint James Paris and now oversees the hotel’s Michelin-starred dining room, its library bar and room service. Awarded the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (M.O.F.) in 2007, which recognizes some of the country’s most skilled craftsmen, he trained with renowned chefs such as Gilles Blandin at Vallon de Valrugues, Patrick Henriroux at La Pyramide, and Thierry Marx, whom he succeeded in 2010 at the Relais & Châteaux Cordeillan Bages.
“Go ahead, gather everything together and eat!” says Chef Rocha. When he presents a plate to diners, Jean-Luc wants his guest to savour the dish as a whole. Not a single ingredient, accompaniment, nor condiment appears by chance. Each detail is thought through to create an unforgettable, emotional taste sensation. To achieve this, Chef Rocha relies not only on a combination of savours, but also of textures. Eating, chewing and considering – each bite plays a role in the experience of the meal. In the conception of
his dishes reigns a balance that calibrates acidity and sweetness, creaminess and crunch, strong flavours and subtlety. It is all the result of teamwork: “I continually ask everyone on the team – the waiters, everyone – to taste each dish. I need to see the way people eat and their expression when they eat. If only a few of them think a new dish is good, I start over”.
A luxury shrine
By hosting Guerlain in his Spa, the Saint James Paris has made a brilliant alliance combining exclusivity and excellence. And to seal this alliance and integrate it into this 19th-century bijou building, Bambi Sloan has designed a fascinating shrine. She has used a subtle Oriental/Western blend for the decoration: tiling featuring arabesque patterns, like a carpet leading to the changing rooms and hammams, a baroque velvet couch, boudoir cabins complete with vanities and large mirrors, “Cordoba leather” trompe-l’œil panels and the like. For the fitness room, she has chosen the shock of contrasting precious luxury and cutting-edge technology, using antique chandeliers, Versailles floorboards and the very latest in exercise machines.
The world of Guerlain beauty
Since its creation in 1928, Guerlain is passionate about beauty. Guerlain has drawn inspiration from nature and its many wonders to formulate its excellent skincare: Orchidée Impériale, Abeille Royale, and Super Aqua. These products are the perfect combination of exceptional efficiency and unrivalled sensoriality. Every treatment is transformed into a unique and personal occasion, a moment created especially for you – this is the essence of the Guerlain experience, the perfect union of effective know-how and aesthetic expertise.
A PRIVATE CLUB
Small, yet big
A prestige hotel nestling in a park in the heart of Paris, the Saint James Paris shelters a select Club that belongs to a worldwide network of two hundred and twenty clubs. The Club provides its members with a privileged setting to hold business meetings, with exclusive services, permanent access to the bar, restaurant, spa, fitness centre, private lounge rentals, car rentals (failing a Montgoler balloon!) and more.
A private circle with an open policy
The Saint James Paris now welcomes outside guests, during evenings Mondays to Saturdays and for Sunday brunch. Whether popping in after work or taking the family out, they will be perfect moments to explore the hushed, magical ambience of the mythical bar, in the Grand Library… To appreciate the cuisine of the gourmet restaurant and its wild Napoleon III décor… To enjoy the large summer terrace with its Montgoler-arbors blending flower and panther motifs…
43 avenue Bugeaud 75116 Paris, France . phone +33 1 44 05 81 81 www.saint-james-paris.com
Saint James Paris Laure Pertusier – General Manager Phone +33 1 44 05 81 77 firstname.lastname@example.org