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Hotel Rochechouart: a Thirties hotel renovated in its original spirit

In a conversation with Orso Hotels founders, Anouk and Louis Solanet, to get to know their project to give life back to Parisian hotels that were meant to be forgotten

Hotel Rochechouart in Paris

In 2020, in the 9th arrondissement, near the center of Paris, Hotel Rochechouart reopened. A building that takes its name from its neighborhood and has been re-opened because the first time that it hosted people was in 1929. «It was one of the last hotels, or maybe the last one in the city, to be built like a grand hotel. And it’s curious that in 1929 and 2020 started two world crises, the Great Depression and Covid», states Louis Solanet. During the 1930s, the majority of the hotel clients were artists. Then, it was occupied by Germans during World War II, and after it was abandoned, and began to be forgotten.

The renovation of the Rochechouart 

The works began in 2019, thanks to Orso Hotels founders Anouk Solanet-Receveur and Louis Solanet. The idea to make it part of their brand came to Solanet, who grew up nearby, not far from the Musee Camondo. «I come from a family that has been in the hotel business for a while», says Solanet. «We used to live in the neighborhood, and I’ve always thought that the building had potential, but it was just like a Sleeping BeautyWe wanted to wake Sleeping Beauty up but not like she was in the Twenties or Thirties, and it was a challenge».

Under the brand Orso, they launched the project in 2018 and continued with works throughout 2019 and 2020, until the opening the 2nd of October. «We were surprised that we could open after such a short time, especially after Covid» says Solanet-Receveur. The project funding was supposed to be around 10million euros, but because of Covid, it had to be rethought. «In the weeks after our opening, it was imposed a curfew after 9 pm, and there were no tourists in the city, just Parisians. It was out of the ordinary because even if the hotel is not a hundred percent complete, you always have people coming to Paris. But when we opened it, there was nobody that we would go in».

To avoid waste, in terms of time and investments, the Solanets thought to change the offer. Since the restaurant had to stay closed for clients out of the hotel, for about three weeks they decided to lower the price for a night in, with dinner included. The clients were Parisians who wanted an escape from the situation, and could have it. «We had to adapt and reinvent ourselves, to come up with ideas. Then, we had the feeling that we had achieved our goal».

The Rochechouart ambiance as the Thirties

«We didn’t want to do a picture of the Thirties. We decided to work with Festen, an architects firm, and they understood the atmosphere since they won the project. They picked up principles more than images. They didn’t want to redo an Art Deco hotel, but they wanted to reshape a Parisian place from that era». Festen architects dove into the place archives, searched for furniture inspiration in action houses catalogues, studying pieces that won’t come to mind when thinking at the period aesthetic but that were used.

The Thirties concept can be detected in the choice of materials. Wood, brass, and marble reign throughout the place. «We tried to have less but real material. We would have brass, instead of tainted metal that looks like it, and marble. For rooms, in the bar tables, in the lounge. We even remade skirtings in tromp l’oeil, in a very Parisian style» adds Solanet.

Another source of inspiration were the findings done during the works: pavements and other details in Beaujolais ceramics, marble stairs that «were completely different without the carpet. We took off the upper layer and we found they were very beautiful. Things were just underneath and we tried to keep and to reuse them». Recycling materials and artworks already in place was a key concept during the renovation. Parquet floors were kept «even if they still squeeze, sometimes, so they’re under a carpet but you can feel them when you walk», and the mosaic floor in the restaurant was restored. 

Lampoon, The Rochechouar hotel shows a mix of modern and retro style
The Rochechouar hotel shows a mix of modern and retro style

The result that Orso and Festen were seeking

When working on the project, Orso and Festen idea was to maintain the place spirit, «but not in the same way, just uploaded». For this reason, and in response to the pandemic situation, the Solanets were thinking to open the Mikado, the Rochechouart’s bar dansant that reached its peak during the Jazz Era. «We didn’t know what do with that space, maybe a conference room. But seeing the old photos we decided that it would be better to recreate that festive ambiance, with a different vibe. After Covid, people want to regain time to party and have fun, and this is another big parallel between the years after 1929 and today».

Hotel Rochechouart «it’s not just a place with a nice decoration. It has a story, and it’s linked to the other six Orso hotels for its offer and values», specifies Solanet-Receveur. What she and her husband wanted to recreate with the Orso was to create a brand that could enhance independent hotels without touching their personality. «Something is missing between those franchise hotels where we learned a lot and the independent boutique hotel spirit. So we try to combine them and create something in between».

The six hotels under the brand differ from one another, in stars number and aesthetic, but they have in common a philosophy of care to the detail and the person, based on the concept of revaluation. Each hotel wants to take in its neighborhood aura and if you’re a guest in one hotel, you can enter any other one in the city and receive the same treatment, but experiencing what that hotel has to offer that differs it from the others. «We’ve thought about an Orso map of Paris, with a hundred address recommendations within a fifteen minutes walk from each hotel. The idea is to allow our guests to live the city as Parisians, and not just as tourists».

Guests welcoming at Hotel Rochechouart

When clients arrive in each hotel, they’re welcomed in the same way, with a piece of cake and some other amenities. Orso hotels distinguish from franchise ones since this piece of cake: it’s not a cookie wrapped in plastic, but a bakery product made by locals with ingredients sourced not too far and respecting the environment. In the rooms, there are other amenities, and single-use plastic has disappeared.

Water is served in glass bottles and is filtered water. Continental breakfast has been abolished in favor of menu suggestions, to minimize waste and valorize local producers. «In the beginning, the breakfast change was not welcomed by the staff. But then it worked, if you need to change people’s minds, you have to try to not satisfy everybody and try to follow your convictions» affirms Solanet. Single-use containers for body lotions and shampoos have been replaced by bigger ones, that guests can decide to buy with a discount or to leave in the hotel to the ones that will come next, who will receive them after they’ve been controlled and sanitized.

The idea for the bigger containers came to the Solanets during the Covid situation. «We had a few clients, and we had too many samples. We gave them to an association for homeless women, because they need to have a smaller format to give them when they sleep in the street. After that, we’d finished the smaller containers, and decided to pass to the other format». From this came then the idea to create a skincare line, called Colomba, produced in Grasse and inspired by the Corsican summer essence.

The name Colomba shares with Orso the same source of inspiration. These two names are the names of the main characters of a Corsican tale, about a soldier that has to leave France and go back to its island, Corsica, where lives his lover Colomba. «It’s a tale about finding a balance between tradition and the modern world» explains Solanet. And this is what he and his wife wanted to bring to life with the Orso project: a hotel brand that enhances places history and leaves to them their independence, just uniting them in the name of localness.

Hotel Rochechouart

55 Boulvard Marguerite de Rochchouart – 75009, Paris, France

Part of the Orso Hotels brand, in the Pigalle/Montmartre district of Paris. It is an historical hotel, first opened in 1929, and renovated by Festen architects between 2019 and 2020.

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
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Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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