The Most Fashionable Hotel in Paris, Hôtel Costes, Now Has a Sophisticated Sister Property
Styled by Ewa Kluczenko. Model: Nelly Herin at Girl MGMT. Hair by Olivier Noraz. Makeup by Ania Grzeszczuk at Calliste. Manicure by Julie Villanova at Artlist. Production by Hortense Bernadin
Hôtel Costes was the center of attention when it opened on a particularly tony stretch of Rue St.-Honoré in 1995, and the spotlight hasn't really moved on since. Bordello-styled by interiors guru Jacques Garcia when everyone else was doing minimalism, the property is warren-like, with small rooms, and shouldn't have lasted. Especially given the competition in Paris, where palatial hotels proliferate like rabbits. And especially among fashion people, Costes's core clientele. Their attention spans are not long and their tastes are, by definition, fickle.
But many of them—the entire press and design team at Valentino, for example—won't go anywhere else. If there is an address in Paris that people are bursting to return to for some good old-fashioned rubbernecking, it is this one.
"The first thing everyone told me when I was new in fashion was, 'The camel craps and the caravan moves on.' But it never moved on from the Costes," says David Downton, a British illustrator who has worked for countless fashion houses and magazines. (Those are his portraits of the Costes staff in the hallway on the second floor.) Downton describes his stays for the haute couture shows in January and July as "habit-forming."
He loves the voluptuous rooms lined with Pierre Frey silk and scented with just-cut red roses—even if they're too small for him to draw in.
"You can smoke on the restaurant patio, and you'll always see someone there. You know when the Chanel show is happening because people pile in wearing Chanel, then go back out in Schiaparelli. It's a parade."
Before owner Jean-Louis Costes opened the hotel, he and his brother, Gilbert, were already masters of scene-setting, having made their name supplanting Parisian checked-tablecloth bistros with slick, design-forward sheds that served vaguely Thai-influenced fare in waistline-friendly portions.
They understood the power of mood lighting and how best to show off clients, who included Monica Bellucci and Yves Saint Laurent, whether at Café Costes (designed by a young Philippe Starck); Le Café Marly, inside the Louvre; or, later, L'Avenue, a post-shopping stopover for the nipped and tucked just down the street from Hôtel Plaza Athénée.
The brothers also understood the weirdly seductive sadism of restaurant service in Paris and carried it over to the hotel—to the consternation of many, and the delight of some. Building on that prestige, Costes created a global brand, with a series of CDs compiled by the resident DJ that sold 6 million copies, and collaborations with brands such Eres swimwear and Essie nail polish.
But after all this magnificent intransigence, there is now a place for minimalism and daylight at the Costes. Yes, the hotel is changing. Radically. (Not the restaurant—don't panic, fans of the spicy beef salad known, somewhat unpronounceably, as le tigre qui pleure.)
A new wing is opening around the corner, in what was formerly the Hôtel Lotti on the Rue de Castiglione, with an entirely different architecture and look. It's not really an extension of the original, which is staying much the same as it ever was. Castiglione, as the new property is called, is its own separate universe, save for its elegant lobby and check-in area, which will be used by guests of both properties.
Jean-Louis Costes has described Castiglione as "mature" in that, for the first time, he approached a project as an established hotelier and hired an established designer. Legendary minimalist Christian Liaigre completed his plans for the property shortly before his death in 2020, and his signature style is very grown-up. The look is visible everywhere—from the liberal use of wood paneling and carved brass door handles to the clean lines of the jewel-toned furniture and the eye-catching Calacatta marble that dominates the oversize bathrooms.
In contrast to the Costes, even the smallest rooms are nearly 500 square feet. More deluxe suites have rowing machines in the bathrooms. One suite contains a massive private terrace with a view of Le Secret, a gold David Altmejd sculpture of a figure with a giant ear located in a small courtyard.
A private elevator and private VIP entrance are on the way, because Kanye doesn't need people taking pictures when he arrives. Castiglione has a general manager—something Costes never had. Naomi Campbell did a hard-hat tour earlier this year (the opening was scheduled for June) and said simply, "It's beyond."
Part of the traditional Costes experience was knowing that you couldn't have everything you wanted, not even a club sandwich without mayonnaise—believe me, I've tried—but finding a place for the hotel in your heart regardless. If the new property doesn't convert St.-Honoré partisans, well, it doesn't have to. How radically flexible. Vive la différence.
Doubles at Castiglione from $1,450.