My Gay Paree Travel Tips… Hotel Crayon

I used to live in Paris and, a Frenchman aside, I picked up a thing or two about the City of Lights during my time there. Here’s my favourite city break hotel…

Hotel Crayon – 25 rue du Bouloi, Paris

Arty Paris

No trip-ette to Paris is complete without a visit to the Louvre. Either that, or a mosey round Place du Tertre, the one-time village square where Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh and Picasso used to hang out. With all this talk of art, what better place to call home pour le weekend than the aptly-named Hotel Crayon? I stumbled upon this place by chance – an internet booking blunder, truth be told. But what a great little cock-up it turned out to be.

Reading up in reception

Reading up in reception

Funky decor

Funky decor

Hotel Crayon

Hotel Crayon is a dinky little hotel, with just 27 chambres to its name. All the rooms are decked out in loud and proud hues. My room, for example, was painted slut red. And while the chambermaids were doing their thing, I managed to get a sneaky peek at some of the other rooms – the lime green number just opposite me looked pretty cool.

The slut red garret room

The slut red garret room

French 'art' AKA porn

French ‘art’ AKA porn

Boutique and bijou

As well as a Warhol-esque palette, the rooms are all kitted out with vintage furniture that’s been given a 21st-century makeover. The focal point in my bijou bathroom was an antique, Versailles-like vanity unit that had been customised to support a butler’s sink.

Bijou bathroom

Bijou bathroom

Julie Gauthron

A certain Julie Gauthron is the funky French designer behind the hotel’s look. She even made sure the corridors were given the pop-art treatment with wallpaper that wouldn’t look out of place in well, Wallpaper* magazine, and room numbers woven into the pile of specially-commissioned carpets.

Corridor art

Corridor art

Cool carpets

Cool carpets

Superb location

The great thing about the Hotel Crayon is, despite all its grand designs, it manages to sidestep that aloof, ‘art gallery’ feel that plagues so many boutique hotels. Instead, this city pile gives off the kind of warmth you usually only get at a guesthouse. Throw in the fact that it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Louvre, not to mention the Louvre-Rivoli metro, and you couldn’t ask for a better citybreak bolthole.

My Gay Paree Travel Tips… May Day with ‘Muguet’

I used to live in Paris and, a Frenchman aside, I picked up a thing or two about the City of Lights during my time there. Here’s the first of ‘My Gay Paree Travel Tips’…

May Day with ‘Muguet’ – Rue Montorgueil, Paris

Printemps à Paris

Paris in springtime – there’s nowhere like it. Need proof? Then take a stroll through the city when the boulevards and quaysides erupt into a riot of pinky-cream blossom. But it’s not just the trees that are in bloom at this time of year. Parisians usher in the first hints of sunshine with bouquets of white lilies.

Muguet des Bois AKA Lily of the Valley

Muguet des Bois AKA Lily of the Valley

May Day, French-style

As May Day swings round, make-shift stalls start popping up on every street corner selling posies of lily of the valley – or ‘muguet des bois’, to give it its French name. Normally, selling flowers (or anything else for that matter) requires a permit. However, what with May 1st being a national holiday, you can sidestep the usual red tape. As such, anyone can sell the dainty bell-like blooms without fear of getting a wrap on the knuckles from ‘les flics’.

Rue montorgueil

Of course, the city’s florists cash in big time, setting up enormous snow-white arrangements beneath their shop-front awnings. But head to somewhere like the ever-buzzy rue Montorgueil and you’ll spot charity workers and entrepreneurial Parisians erecting trestle tables to sell lily stems to passersby.

Perfumed Paris metro

It’s a lovely tradition which everyone seems to embrace. From floppy-haired ‘flâneurs’ to snappily-dressed ‘hommes d’affaires’, you’ll see all walks of life clutching their sprigs to give to their mums, girlfriends, wives, mistresses – you name it. But the real plus point? It’s the one day of the year when the Paris metro smells more like the perfume counter at Galeries Lafayette and less like the local ‘pissoir’.

Exasperdating | Victoriana Fella

Exasperdating Logo

Exasperdating | Victoriana Fella

Height: 6’1″
Build: Broad
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue
Job: Architect/Interior Designer

So there I am, waiting anxiously for my name to be called. I’m doing everything I can to ignore the mosquito-like high-pitched buzz emanating from the consulting room (read as torture chamber). In a desperate bid to try and take my mind off things, I reach out and grab one of the well-thumbed glossies on the coffee table. Result! It’s OK! Magazine. And, as we all know, lightweight celebrity fluff is the perfect antidote to the terror that is the dentist’s chair. 

Open wide...

Open wide…

What’s that got to do with a date? Well, as I was flicking through said mag, my eyes suddenly shot to a picture of a bloke I thought I knew. But just who was he? And what the hell was he doing in a celeb rag? So with one eyebrow arched quizzically à la Inspector Clouseau, I went on the hunt for clues.

First off, the caption. No bells ringing there. While his name wasn’t beige, it certainly wasn’t standout. So I carried on, scanning the article proper. An architect slash interior designer. Hmm, doesn’t narrow things down as I’ve known a few of those in my time. But hold up! Currently working for a very high-profile member of the royal family. Now, you’d have thought a nugget of info like that would have sparked some kind of memory but, alas, nothing.

“Monsieur Torres?” It was my turn for the chair. Clearly my brain was still running a Ctrl+F search because the penny dropped just as I was invited to open wide.

I’d gone on a date with this chap about five years ago. He was fairly well spoken (not to mention well off) and was, to my mind, just a stumble from plummeting headfirst into the ravine of posh. I remember he invited me over for dinner at his place one night. His gaff was decorated in what I call ‘try-hard Victoriana’ – a deer-stalker nonchalantly placed here, a pile of dusty old books stacked casually-on-purpose there.

Suffice to say, we didn’t go beyond dinner as it was clear the class gap between us was just too great. I mean, the idea of him dancing manically to Morrisey at Duckie was just as at odds as the notion of me genuflecting to some Duke and Duchess on a pheasant shoot – which seems to be exactly what he’s doing right now. Damnation. If only I’d played my cards right – I could be hanging with Wills and Harry right now. More so Harry, I think…