Planning a Parisian escape? The City of Light is one of the great wonders of human civilization, which means there's no excuse for staying in a drab hotel with a boring backstory. Here are 5 historic hotels with interesting past lives. Do yourself a favor and stay at one of them.
Obsessed with Oscar Wilde? You've probably heard of L'Hôtel. Here's a recap just in case: Oscar Wilde died here in 1900 and you can stay in his room. Previously known as the Hôtel d'Alsace, the St Germain-des-Prés spot was considerably less posh when the playwright lived there. When he moved in at the end of his European exile in 1899, Wilde reportedly remarked, “either that wallpaper goes, or I do." (Full disclosure: Nobody's totally sure he actually said that but it's still a really a great quote.) Other famous guests include Marlon Brando, Salvador Dali, Princess Grace of Monaco, and Frank Sinatra. Bonus: There's a glamorous underground hammam pool.
This gem of a hotel has been open for business since 1846. Tucked away at the end of a 19th-century passages couverts (covered shopping arcade), both the passage and the façade of the hotel have been classified as French national monuments. What's all the fuss about? Paris used to be full of these pedestrian-friendly covered walkways. Most of them didn't survive Haussmann's 19th-century remodel. The Hôtel Chopin also wins points for its eclectic decor and reasonable price tag.
The elegant hotel was inspired by the playwright Caron de Beaumarchais. We're pretty sure The Marriage of Figaro author would feel right at home in this opulent Marais hideaway. The Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais is dripping with chandeliers, elaborate window drapes, and Louis XVI-style furniture. Want to vacation like an 18th-century nobleman? This is your jam.
Did you party in Paris in the 80s? You probably spent some time at Les Bains Douches. Built in 1885 as a public bath house and later patronized by Marcel Proust, the space was converted into a legendary nightclub in 1978. Long story short: Some Wolf of Wall Street–style partying went down here. In June 2015, the past-its-prime nightspot underwent yet another transformation. Now Les Bains is a super chic 39-room hotel with a model-filled restaurant.
If you're an André Breton fan you should probably sleep here before you die. The patron saint of Surrealism stayed at the Hôtel des Grands Hommes when he first arrived in Paris in 1815. Pure psychic automatism isn't your thing? Stay here anyway. It's an awesome hotel just steps away from The Panthéon.
Feature image via the Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais