Is this the coolest new hotel in Paris?
The original Costes, on Rue Saint-Honoré, was one of the
earliest cult anti-hotels. Not really a hotel, more like a members’ club that happened to have 78 smallish, baroque-chic bedrooms above, the permanent semi darkness of its womb-like downstairs interior always packed with a kind of real-life Call My Agent! cast. The new Castiglione addition, slated to open in May, has taken over a building on the adjacent Rue Castiglione; it is connected to the original, now called Saint-Honoré, via a secret doorway. But with its brightness and openness, the annexe initially seems completely different.
‘I feel like a farmer from my home region, the Aveyron, who has bought the neighbouring estate and made one beautiful big property,’ smiles Jean-Louis Costes. The creator of one of the most written-about, talked-about haunts in the world never usually speaks to the press. He has a gentle enthusiasm about him as he bounds through the freshly finished Castiglione. ‘Regarde,’ Costes smiles, pointing out a delicate gold tap, arched like a swan’s neck, in a bathroom that appears to be made of air and light. The 38 bedrooms are far larger than those in the old place. The ones on the bel étage have double-height ceilings. The sense of space is enhanced by limestone and marble, natural light pouring through even the walk-in wardrobes. Bathrooms have views across the 1st arrondissement and the Tuileries; terraces look over the Place Vendôme towards the Sacré-Coeur. A spa with the biggest indoor pool in Paris is in the works under both parts of the hotel.
On the roof is a gilded sculpture by Canadian David Altmejd, part of Costes’s museum-like collection of art that includes Igbo masks from Nigeria and a geometric glass-window installation. The Castiglione, designed by Christian Liaigre, is as stripped back as the Saint-Honoré, created by Jacques Garcia as a reaction against minimalism in 1995, is excessive. ‘I was frightened that if I asked Jacques again, we would get a big patisserie alongside the one we already have next door, which would have been indigestible,’ says Costes, slightly gnomically. ‘And Christian kept bugging me to let him design the new hotel.’ Yet somehow the vibe feels similar, an eclectic artwork here, a flash of rich damask upholstery there. Ultimately, like the original, its appeal will come down to something more intangible, more elusive. But what is the famous legend of the Costes?
‘It is whatever you think it is,’ he says. ‘Elements such as our music (the property has a channel on Apple Music and Spotify playing everything from lounge electronica to Sixties French chansons) and our scent (Costes has its own perfumery and candles; its signature fragrance is an intoxicating woody number) – we didn’t do them for publicity, we just did them. I choose people. They do the rest.’ The Castiglione will have the same soundtrack and smell, and guests willing to pay more for its rooms. Whichever one you book into, brushing up on your français is advised. ‘If someone speaks English to a staff member, they will reply in French,’ says Costes, who conducts our interview in his native language. ‘It’s very important that we remain a typical Parisian hotel.’ Doubles at the Castiglione from about £1,040; hotelcostes.com
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