Le Pigalle Hotel
If you haven’t been to Paris, then you probably don’t know Pigalle, but you may know the Moulin Rouge and could guess that it is located in a seedier area of Paris known for its cabarets, adult shows, sex shops, and other late-night unmentionables. The Pigalle neighborhood was once one of the most famous red-light districts in Europe, but now it is an up-and-coming neighborhood with hipster hotels, chic cocktail lounges, vintage shops, and gastro-bistros.
The neighborhood has always attracted those interested in an alternative lifestyle such as artists, musicians, and designers, some quite well known: Henri Toulouse-Lautrec had a studio in Pigalle and artists such as Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh once lived here. Édith Piaf made an album titled La Rue Pigalle and the French luxury shoe designer Christian Louboutin named one of his shoe models “Pigalle”.
Since I am visiting Pigalle during Christmas, I feel like the adult version of Ralphie when he looked up that leg lamp in a Christmas Story. Pigalle has a grit about it that is both exciting and shameful for this small town boy who grew up in conservative Texas. Maybe it’s the soft glow of electric sex gleaming from the windows of Pigalle or it could be the constant sexual references that are hard to avoid, like the cocktail bar across the street called Dirty Dick.
I’d been to Paris an uncountable number of times in the past seven years, stayed in the best boutique and luxury hotels, but I had never stayed in the Pigalle neighborhood until this trip. Le Pigalle Hotel is just a 5 minute walk to the Moulin Rouge, but it feels the opposite of a touristy hotel you might expect so close to the birthplace of the can-can.
If I had any hip Parisian friends with a tasteful flat in Pigalle, I would expect it to feel a lot like Le Pigalle Hotel which blends retro furniture and decor with a modern design aesthetic, and of course there would be a dance poll in the living room, constantly burning candles from Le Labo, and DJ’s spinning the latest trendy tunes. Guests are invited to work and linger in the living-room-like lobby, where food and drinks are available all day, and the atmosphere is laid-back but friendly.
Le Pigalle Hotel has 39 unique rooms and one suite decorated in a theme originating from the Pigalle, all updated with thoroughly modern comforts and amenities. We stayed in a spacious Superior Room, the Deluxe Pigalle 22, which featured a large double bed and a bathtub in the room itself. 22 was decorated with refreshing works of art from neighborhood artists and photographers, interesting books, and vintage furniture. I spent at least an hour examining all of the unique curiosities found in the room and even though the room had a modern TV, I don’t think we ever turned it on. The room was furnished with a personal bar featuring house-made, premixed cocktails (I enjoyed an old fashioned,) and with Le Labo products in the bathroom I could scrub away my shame and smell wonderful after enjoying such an enlightening few nights at Le Pigalle.