This Wellness-focused Paris Hotel Doesn't Feel Like Paris — and That's Exactly the Point
In Paris's 9th arrondissement, on a typically rainy evening in late January, I climbed the slope of the buzzing market street, Rue des Martyrs, past the twirling teacups and colorful horses on the Belle Époque carousel of Avenue Trudaine, and arrived at HOY hotel. Nestled on an unusually quiet street at the foot of SoPi, or South Pigalle, the historically seedy red-light district that has become more and more bobo, or bourgeois boheme in recent years, the hotel is a short walk from dozens of bars and restaurants that serve sinfully delicious Parisian fare.
Yet, HOY—short for "House of Yoga," the word also means "today" in Spanish—is a hotel that aims to promote a more mindful approach to Parisian living. "Healthy" is not exactly the word that comes to mind when planning a Paris trip, but the myth that Parisian wellness translates to a leisurely walk after a wine-soaked lunch is firmly a thing of the past. Founder Charlotte Gomez de Orozco was inspired to open HOY because it captured the world she wanted to live in: more responsible and more conscious. "HOY is a hotel I would have loved to travel to," she said.
The wellness movement in the City of Lights has been underway for some time, and in 2021, the options are more plentiful and better than ever. Ma Thérapie, launched at the end of 2019, offers signature face and body treatments that aim to undo the effects of stress, plus their own line of organic products. Last year, the creators of popular brunch spot Sunday in Soho rolled out Bespoke by Sunday: delivery meals that are chef-driven and nutritionist-backed. Noted fashion facialist Sophie Carbonari settled in Paris just before the Covid-19 pandemic and now offers tailor-made treatments at the stylish Hotel Rochechouart(keep an eye out for Carbonari's own spot in the future).
This year, Maison Epigenetic opened its doors in the 16th arrondissement, offering Parisians a Haussmanian nirvana dedicated to epigenetics: understanding how our lifestyles affect the expression of our genes. And the soon-to-open Hôtel Madame Rêve, formerly the Louvre's post office, will open its rooftop garden for private sunrise yoga classes overlooking Paris.
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So, I'm curious to see how HOY will mesh with the neighborhood and whether it will live up to its promise of being a "meeting place for the well-being of the body, mind, and soul." I brought my friend Jennifer to experience HOY with me, and when we stepped inside— after a smiling staff member named Leo relieved me of my dripping umbrella— we were immediately drawn into florist Chiaki Kokami's magical atelier.
I asked her about the wall of dried flowers in gorgeous, muted tones. A trend in Paris these days, n'est pas? She nodded. "We work with dried flowers during the week, and on the weekends, we use fresh stems,"" Kokami told me, motioning to a beautiful vase of scarlet anthuriums.
Kokami's shop, La Floreria, which offers arranging workshops and bespoke bouquets emporter, is just one way that HOY guests can find some centeredness. There's also a heated yoga studio— created in partnership with Yuj Yoga, the team behind France's first infrared-light yoga studios— and a lengthy, regularly updated "care menu", which features treatments from experts in everything from holistic osteopathy and CBD massages to intimate ecology and body painting. My interest was fully piqued.
After checking in, we settled into an airy room on the top floor. When designing the hotel, Gomez de Orozco (who has roots in Mexico and France) partnered with brands from both countries who share her values of sustainability, beauty, and balance. Take the handmade mugs and carafes, created by Mexico City-based ceramicist Ceramica Libertad, or HOY's collaborations with Seasonly, the clean beauty brand for Parisians in-the-know. Our room was just as intentional and calming, with ash-blond wood floors, walls done in a pale shade somewhere between khaki and light mint, and even a ballet bar for stretching.
That night, we enjoyed the facial yoga session we never knew we needed, led by the sunny Aurelia Del Sol (better known as @herecomesdelsol.) As we lightly tapped our checks and patted our "O-"-shaped lips, Del Sol explained that these seemingly subtle moves would help to stimulate lymphatic drainage and boost collagen.
Back at our room, freshly showered and smelling like a field of Provence lavender—the hotel's products, created in partnership with The Naked Shop, are made with 100% natural ingredients— Jennifer and I tucked into a dinner delivered to our door. Before the pandemic, guests dined at the communal tables at Mesa, HOY's ground-floor restaurant (which has since reopened after our visit.) But we were happy to enjoy the intimacy of an in-room dinner by candlelight.
Mesa's plant-based dishes, developed by Lauren Lovatt and Carolina Rodriguez of the Plant Academy London, couldn't have been tastier. We devoured the roasted beets with wild pesto, vegan creme fraiche, and toasted hazelnuts, and feasted on tortellini stuffed with preserved lemon, plant-based ricotta, and a rich tomato sauce with crispy capers and tarragon oil. Paired with a carafe of biodynamicLoire Valley Sancerre, it was the perfect balance of mostly healthy, and a little boozy. Was there room for dessert? Mais oui.
After a restful night, we enjoyed a breakfast of warm whole-wheat croissants with cultured butter, local honey and a spoonful of bee pollen for good measure, plus fresh-squeezed blood orange juice— a spread so pretty it simply demands a snap for Instagram. Then we stretched through a morning yoga session led by Gomez de Orozco herself.
When I grabbed my now-dry umbrella at check out, I took a moment to appreciate how much lighter I was feeling. Then I headed back into another drizzly day in Paris.