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Hotels of the Moment: Paris

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It was only a matter of time before hip hoteliers got to the northern Marais—or Haut Marais, as it is locally (and quite fittingly) known. The pioneer was designer Azzedine Alaïa, who opened his three-suite hotel on the Rue de Moussy. Now two new hotels have arrived, smartly complementing the cutting-edge galleries and luxe vintage-clothing and home-design boutiques that dot what has become the chicest neighborhood in Paris.

The Hôtel du Petit Moulin, wedged into the intersection of two impossibly small streets, is a meringue of Parisian charm and whimsy. The 17-room bed-and-breakfast, a former pâtisserie whose belle époque frescoes remain intact, was created by the couturier Christian Lacroix. From the carpet to the light switches, Lacroix decorated each room differently, choosing every detail with such extraordinary care that this five-story labyrinth of twisting staircases and multilevel floors feels much like its own world. Lacroix has, in fact, held up an exacting mirror to his neighborhood (he lives in the Marais), where 17th-century architecture conceals both traditional bistros and avant-garde design shops. One room of Petit Moulin combines black-and-white toile de Jouy and dark gray moldings with a moon-and-star fresco and bright orange furniture from the seventies. In Lacroix's favorite room, No. 204, sliding window panels take the place of traditional shutters and anise-green walls stand in vivid contrast to one of the designer's drawings blown up larger than life behind the bed. There's no restaurant, but room service is delivered from the hotel kitchen. Breakfast, however, is served at the bar, open only to guests—and to Monsieur Lacroix, who is a regular.

On a more grandiose scale, the flashy 52-room Murano Urban Resort sits on the busy Boulevard du Temple (to escape the noise, ask for a room in the back). The two $3,300 suites include their own private outdoor plunge pools and rooftop views—and a 5,000-square-foot spa with a 50-foot pool will open later this spring. The Murano is clearly aimed at a palace-hotel crowd that's grown tired of the stuffy Eighth Arrondissement yet still needs a dose of Parisian grandeur. It's also fertile ground for cool-hunters, though: Doors open by fingerprint recognition, pixilated jellyfish swim in digital paintings behind the bar, and room lighting changes colors at your whim. It's hard to believe that the owners originally planned to build a replica of a Venetian palazzo. Hôtel du Petit Moulin: rates, $325-$520; 29-31 Rue de Poitou; 33-1/42-74-10-10. Murano Urban Resort: rates, $460-$3,300; 13 Blvd. du Temple; 33-1/42-71-20-00.


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