What it’s like to stay at the sexiest hotel in Paris

In a nutshell: A stylish boutique hotel with kitschy quirks, in the heart of one of the most famous sex districts in Europe

The neighbourhood

There’s a reason Le Pigalle takes its name from the local area, Quartier Pigalle.

We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

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Nothing about Paris’s illustrious sex district, a popular tourist spot that houses some of the city’s most famous cabarets, including the Moulin Rouge, is PG. The surrounding streets are lined with garishly lit up sex shops and nightclubs, including one opposite the hotel called Dirty Dick.

Sex aside, there are some cosy neighbourhood restaurants (Buvette on 28 Rue Henry Monnier is a delight for small plate fans) and bars with heated outdoor seating to keep you occupied until Dirty Dick opens.

The neighbourhood also happens to have one of the city’s best vintage shops, which is saying something considering that Paris is no slouch when it comes to second-hand sartorial know-how. Célia Darling Vintage (5 Rue Henry Monnier) offers a tight edit of high-fashion designer pieces from heritage Parisian brands including Celine and Chloé.

While the spirited vibe of the surrounding streets is fun at first, all of the hullabaloo can be draining at 1am when Rue Frochet is very much alive with the sound of drunken brawls and chatter over cigarettes. But who knows? In a hotel that seems to be all about sex, keeping you up all night might just be part of the plan.

Le Pigalle’s interior offers a far more sophisticated kind of seduction than the outside would lead you to believe.

From lampshades to tables, furnishings feature flashes of deep, intoxicating red. The artwork veers on bawdy (nude drawings and cartoons of women straddling human-sized Eiffel Towers), but the furniture offers a more nuanced type of romance: think lip-shaped sofas and yonic chairs.

Meanwhile, as an unsubtle reminder to guests that they are in the sex district of Paris, there’s a pole in the lobby where you’d expect a reception to be. And we’re not just talking an everyday metal pole. It stands erect in a curtained-off, red velvet alcove akin to the kind you’d find in a strip club (or perhaps aforementioned Dirty Dick).

The vibe

Relaxed and hands-off, so much so there isn’t even a concierge. This means it can be tricky at times to ascertain whether someone is a member of staff or just another stylish Parisian offering tips on where to find the best antique shops. Either way, you’ll find that most queries can be solved by striking up a conversation with the nearest friendly face.

Bed and bath 

Each room subscribes to the hotel’s playful aesthetic. Illustrations of lollipop-sucking mouths – the hotel’s logo – are plastered on everything from the notepads to the Le Labo amenities. Where there aren’t mouths there are pears, each of which has its skin peeled back to reveal a breast. It should come as no surprise that there are branded condoms by the bed, which is cloud-like and sumptuous, with a large TV at the foot.

Floor-to-ceiling windows open onto the noisy street and the bathroom is conveniently tucked into the side with a shower, toilet and his and hers basins. There’s a sliding door that separates the toilet from the room, but no such divide exists for the shower, although there is a curtain.

The rest – a record player, stacks of secondhand books and an iPad that lets you chat with staff and order room service – makes the room feel like the lovechild of an Urban Outfitters and an Apple Store.

Food and drink 

Expect classic French food, with cured meats and smelly cheeses leading the way. Innovative dishes like sweet potato croquettes and avocado bites ensure vegetarians and vegans are catered for too. 

As for drinks, the bar has a solid cocktail list that includes a cracking negroni. (Be warned, it’s so strong you might start thinking you’re starring in your own version of Moulin Rouge.)

Pools, spas and public areas 

No pool or spa: this is Paris, darling. But there is a buzzy open-plan ground floor that triples as a restaurant, bar and, in the wee hours, an entertainment venue with DJs… and the possibility of a pole dance.

Nuts and bolts

Room count: 39 bedrooms and one suite.

In the bathroom: Le Labo toiletries.

Wifi: free.

Extra charges: n/a.

Minibar charges: yes.

Disability access: no.

Pet policy: pets are welcome.

Bottom line

Best thing: The vibe of the ground floor in the evening.

Worst thing: The noise at night – bring ear plugs if you can.

Perfect for: A romantic and lively city break for two.

Not right for: Families with young kids.

Instagram from: The pole.

Room rate: Doubles from €106, room only.

Getting there

The hotel is a five-minute Metro ride away from Gare du Nord.

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