The arrival of a friend in town with money to spare and a taste for lounge music lead me to the notoriously chic bar and lounge at the Hotel Costes-- in full swing of Paris Fashion Week.
The Hotel Costes , one of the more fashionable Paris luxury hotels. The Costes is a five-star hotel, bar and lounge which opened in 1991 under the direction of designer Jacques Garcia. Situated right in the heart of the Rue Saint Honoré fashion district, the Costes is frequented by wealthy jetsetters and those curious to get a glimpse of the elite lifestyle.
Hotel Costes Basics
- Stunning Italian Baroque-style décor
- People-watchers paradise
- Unique and tranquil ambiance
- Overpriced menu
- Service not always friendly
- All-too-audible pretentious conversation
- Address: 239 rue St Honoré, near Place Vendome
- Tel.: +33(0)142 445 000
- Metro: Concorde (lines 8, 1 & 12)
- Reservations: Recommended on weekend nights
- Menus: Separate bar and restaurant menus
- Hours: 7 p.m.-2 a.m.
- Dress code: None
- Payment Options: All major credit cards accepted
- Music: Hotel Costes resident DJs
We head to the Hotel Costes on a Saturday afternoon, curious to visit the home of the celebrated music mixed by D.J.-to-the-stars Stéphane Pompougnac, who has worked with people like Madonna. Hotel Costes CD's have become modern lounge standards.
The bar, restaurant, and hotel have in turn become a favorite among Paris fashionistas and entertainers. Most, though, come here to see and be seen, rather than for the budget-breaking hotel accomodations.
As soon as we arrive, we are quickly shown to a table in the courtyard, thanks to an apparently lenient door policy. The Italian Baroque-style courtyard makes an impression right away.
The combination of terracotta walls, greenery and sculptures is a feast for the eyes and I feel instantly special just being here, sitting among the glamorous regular fixtures.
Quickly sobered by the price-list, however, we choose the reliable, value-for-money Long Island Iced tea. At 19 Euros (approx.$24), life-changing it ain't, but it works its magic and lulls us into ordering two cosmopolitans followed by a pair of perfectly prepared mojitos: Brazilian cocktails made with rum, cane sugar, seltzer, and fresh mint.
Hotel Costes Ambiance
The tranquil lounge music, barely audible outdoors above the talk of fashion shows and photo shoots, is mixed by one of the Hotel's resident DJs.
The clientele is international, with English, unsurprisingly, being the dominant language.
When a looming storm finally takes hold, I instinctively prepare to move indoors, only to witness the prompt unleashing of an overhead covering. The effect is memorable as we enjoy the storm, sipping a glass of Pouilly Fumé, a white sauvigon wine (12 Euros/approx.$15).
The model-like wait staff succeed in maintaining politeness without ever bordering on pleasant, and this, along with their designer attire and franglais-peppered questions: Vous avez commandé les drinks?, all appear to be part of the job description.
At our request, we are brought the bar menu, which contains a sparse selection of nibbles such as smoked salmon, foie gras, and spring rolls. We settle on a club sandwich, steep at 24 Euros (approx. $31), but flawless, and follow it up with a sublime trifle aux quatre fruits rouges (trifle with four forest fruits) at 14 Euros (approx.$18).
With the help of the first pleasant waiter we manage to befriend, we are ushered into the lounge area, all velvet couches and oozing opulence, a darker and cozier option to the courtyard. We finish off our evening here with champagne, engaged in conversation with some of the Paris fashion set.
I guiltily allow my friend to pick up the tab (a hefty 195 Euros/approx. $250), but rather than leaving a bitter taste in our mouths, this somehow seems a bargain for an unforgettable-- but unlikely-to-be-repeated-in-the-near-future-- experience.