During my last trip to Paris I had the chance to spend a couple of nights in the recently renovated Hotel Molitor, situated in the 16th arrondissement. Lucky me: Molitor is not just a luxury hotel; the iconic building in the near neighborhood of Roland Garos & Parc Des Princes has a rare history you wouldn’t expect.
As you al know we fancy hotels with an exceptional history and/or a unique story behind the concept (read about it here and here). When I received the news that I would spend my nights at the famous Molitor, I couldn’t have been more happier. Molitor is part of the Gallery Collection group (read: hotels with a unique character, fancy design, special locations and luxury).
This hotel has it all: it started as a public swimming pool, became a hotspot for the French jet set, changed into an underground art-temple and finally transformed into fancy hotel topped with a delicious sauce of avant-garde.
How it all began
Paris in the 20’s. De city booms, the economy is iron-strong en France is investing huge in very impressive – public – buildings.
The swimming pool Piscine Molitor, build in 1929, was one of those beauties. It was designed by Lucien Pollet, member of Les Belles Piscines de France, a group of architects specialized in designing swimming pools. Piscine Molitor was built in such a way that it had to look and feel of a cruise ship. It was decorated with lead glass work in art-deco style and had one 50-meter outdoor swimming pool and a 33-meter indoor pool.
Fashion defilees and the very first bikini
Olympic athlete Johnny ‘Tarzan’ Weissmuller (remember him?) had the honor to officially open the complex during the summer of 1929. And things went fast for Molitor. The concept and design were much appreciated by the Parisian beau-monde and the building soon became a popular hotspot for fashion shows, theatrical performances and various activities. Whoever wanted to see and be seen, was a regular customer.
Fun fact: In 1946 nude dancer Micheline Bernardini modeled the world’s first bikini at Molitor!
All good things come to an end
Every winter, when it was too cold to swim outside, the pool was carefully converted into a real ice skating rink. This tradition lasted until the 70s. Because of the crisis the money supply dried up and there were no longer enough funds for such pleasures. No more fun equals no more guests and eventually the pool complex had to close its doors in 1989.
Underground art scene
There were plans to demolish the entire complex and build a new hotel with an underground parking. The day after the plans became public however, the Parisian underground group ‘SOS Molitor’ occupied the abandoned complex in an attempt to save the building. And they succeeded: a year later the Molitor was registered as a protected monument and could no longer be demolished.
But: due to lack of any maintenance, the building fell further into disrepair. Still: the past glory of the Molitor kept on attracting many people from the art scene, and the location became very popular for – illegal – rave parties, all kinds of underground art projects and a variety of events.
In 2007 the city of Paris felt strongly that they had to do something about the neglected building, and a project was launched for the complete reconstruction. The final result is the magnificent hotel Molitor as it now stands. A 4-star hotel with a huge indoor and Olympic size outdoor swimming pool. The completely restored Molitor is a fab place where old and new perfectly match each other.
Monitor officially opened its doors in May 2014.
Enough history, time to move on to the ‘present time’. How did I find my stay at this unique hotel? In short: unforgettable! You can feel it all as soon as you enter the lobby: a classy atmosphere blended with hip and modern feeling.
When I entered my room I didn’t know where to look first: hello luxury and design! I stayed in one of the suites which are situated on the inside of the building, around the pool. And although the room was not that super sized, its interior is outstanding.
Extra king-size beds (read: very comfortable), a beautiful bathroom equipped with everything you need to become clean and tidy, and a walk-in rain shower, separated toilet, a comfy sofa and other interesting details like a Bose sound system, a Nespresso (what else?) and a well sized generously filled fridge. Conclusion: everything you need for a comfortable and luxurious stay.
The restaurant is also a feast: chef Julien Mercier threads you with a variety of delicious dishes. Only the best seasonal ingredients are good enough to serve his clients. The plates are also richiously served so you will not walk away hungry.
Make sure to reserve some space in your belly for desert, they are de-li-cious! Njamie 🙂
Tip: Spend some time at the rooftop bar. You can relax in the hanging garden packed with flowers and enjoy the finest cocktails, tapas and even diner (from late spring till the end of September).
The outdoor pool has a constant temperature of 28° Celcius (82,4° Fahrenheit), so no need to jump into your wetsuit 🙂
Hotel Molitor’s staff does everything possible to make its clients feel welcome and at home during their stay. If you’re looking for an exceptional hotel with a glorious history, then this is the place to be for you.
(Disclaimer: I was invited by Rendevousenfrance for this trip. All opinions are my own.)