What are Ralf Ohletz’s favorite hotels?
In London, I love Claridge’s. I stayed there for many, many years. It’s really a lovely hotel.
In Paris, I have another favorite, which is Hôtel Costes because it’s really a very small hotel. It’s very French. It’s owned by a friend of mine, Jean-Louis Costes, who comes from a brasserie background. But he really understood the need to give the essence when you’re in Paris. He has embraced everything that Paris stands for: He has this beautiful perfume that you smell as you walk in the door; he burns all his candles all over the place and it’s a wonderful smell. He has created an identity. He has this wonderful shampoo and the packaging is very distinct. He really started, together with Buddha Bar, this lounge music; it was the first hotel to have that kind of music. It’s really a hotel that embraces all the experiences that you want to have when you’re in Paris. The rooms are very small; most people don’t spend much time in the rooms. There’s a lovely breakfast in the morning.
It’s built around a restaurant that’s very French. The menu is small, except some seasonal dishes that appear from time to time, so therefore you have a consistent experience. The kitchen is very small because he’s from the brasserie business — it’s just a finishing kitchen, in a way — so the soups are always made somewhere else. It’s very, very consistent. Within a distance of about 500 meters [about a third of a mile], there’s the best chocolatier and a cheese shop. He buys from his neighbors, and it’s fantastic. In an instant, you’ve got some of the best things you can find in Paris, I would say. That’s what makes the hotel unique. He doesn’t take any reservations for the restaurant from outside; you have to wait. He really wants to have a restaurant for the French. He makes sure that a good 50 percent is French people. People go there because it has a huge courtyard. Every room is a different experience all around the courtyard. It’s a fantastic concept — the music comes into play, the perfume, the smell everywhere, the beautiful people. It’s just a place where you want to be because it’s so French and it’s a fantastic location.