In the last decade, the Paris boutique hotel boom has gifted travelers an unprecedented crop of charming boltholes and boudoirs to book. But perhaps more significant is the local movement to create singular property-specific identities rather than reproducing from a standardized “slow hospitality” template. At the leading edge of the trend is Paris-based hotel brand Orso, with its flagship property, Hôtel Rochechouart, resting at the apex.
Orso Hotels is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Anouk and Louis Solanet, who, since founding their company in 2020, have opened six distinctive boutique properties throughout Paris. Two more are slated to open this year. Anouk is Dutch and a former lawyer, while Louis, a chef by trade, has always orbited around the hospitality industry (his progenitors created and still operate hotel management company Groupe Solanet). After joining the family firm for a few years, the couple branched off on their own, homing in on ways to revive the lost art of boutique hospitality à la Parisienne.
It’s not just the intangible elements (warm welcomes, authentic experiences and an eco-minded ethos) that Orso seeks to encapsulate, but also the physical and the functional, from distinctive arrondissement-appropriate aesthetics to collaborations with Paris’ top designers and artists. Orso also produces a custom line of skincare products called Colomba (which is inspired by fragrant Mediterranean blooms and lazy Corsican summers) for their growing portfolio.
The latest addition to Orso Hotel is Le Wallace, a 48-room gem in the largely residential—and oft-overlooked—15th arrondissement. This would be the first hotel project for designers Samantha Hauvette and Lucas Madani of studio Hauvette & Madani, whose spirited perspective drew heavily from 1970s Italy and, more specifically, Italian maestro of architecture Gio Ponti. In Hauvette’s words, Le Wallace comes to life through “a theme associated with a poetry of obsolescence, without kitsch, inspired by the sweetness of the Italian Riviera.” Notes of retro glamor like brass, terrazzo and lacquered wood can be spotted throughout the property, from the cozy rooms that evoke a night train’s sleeper cars (think Orient Express) to the jewel-box suite on the fifth floor, which boasts its own terrace. And on the third-floor public terrace, there’s a Nordic bath and outdoor sauna for guests to enjoy.
Orso’s flagship property, however, is arguably the Hôtel Rochechouart, which sits in an eight-floor Pigalle landmark originally built in the 1920s as one of the last grand Parisian art deco hotels. Soon after it became a hideaway for artists during the Great Depression, and occupied by German forces during World War II, the address had been all but forgotten. Contemplating the faded glory’s vicissitudes, Charlotte de Tonnac and Hugo Sauzay of design firm Festen approached the top-to-bottom refurbishment with keen attention to unearthing the building’s beautiful original features, while carefully veering away from the realm of pastiche.
Moldings, floors and interior infrastructure, such as an old glass elevator and a marble staircase, were all retained and restored. Festen alludes to the ’20s and ’30s through their choice of colors, with swaths of ochre, terracotta, bronze and dark green tints evoking an earthen palette of yore throughout the 106 atmospheric rooms. Waxed wood and plaster, along with faux marble and alabaster accents painted by Pauline Leyravaud of studio Polcha, round out the chromatic vision.
Curator Nathalie Obadia deftly punctuates the old-world vibes with a selection of art inspired by the creative energy that once pervaded the edgy Pigalle district. Black and white photography, sketches of landscapes and sculptures from the turn of the 20th century are present throughout, alongside original watercolor pieces commissioned from French-Japanese painter Tiffany Bouelle.
Rooms on the top few floors of Hôtel Rochechouart directly face an all-mighty muse: the imposing Sacré-Coeur. Up here, guests are rewarded with unobstructed views of the iconic basilica.
Off the lobby on the ground floor is the signature Rochechouart restaurant. Like the rest of the hotel, the brasserie is resplendent in jazz-age flair with floor mosaics painstakingly restored and a burl-wood bar worthy of an aspiring grand dame hotel. Rich French classics fill chef Luigi Di Giovanni’s menu, like the creamy chicken liver pâté and braised lamb shoulder, with the desserts—namely the towering cake of stacked crêpes and the Île Flottante—doubling down on the decadence. Orso is also planning the return of 1920s subterranean speakeasy Mikado below Rochechouart, ushering in a new era of flashy nightlife in Pigalle.
Hero image courtesy of Ludovic Balay