Rarely have we stayed in a hotel with such a fascinating history as the Hotel Molitor in Paris, Piscine Molitor as it is called by the French. Piscine is a French noun meaning “swimming pool” or “fishpond”.
We stayed as guests of the Hotel Molitor earlier this year. We were not financially compensated. Our review depicts our stay and our experience at the hotel, which is completely our own.
When we arrived, our first impression of the beautifully renovated lobby was that this isn’t a typical hotel. The Hotel Molitor is part luxury hotel, part art museum and part club. The dazzling orchids that seemingly float above the check-in station welcome you with their bright pink colors.
The graffitied Rolls Royce that you can’t miss in the lobby immediately tells you that you’re in for an interesting stay.
The open ceiling exposes the ventilation system and creates a modern, urban construction feel while showcasing more graffiti and art. The hotel is full of artwork of all types. Black and white photos from the 1920’s, modern art and drawings of the hotel in different stages of its long and storied history.
You may remember that the main character from the movie and book Life of Pi was actually named “Piscine Molitor Patel” after this very famous swimming pool in Paris. As the movie portrays, of course, he changed his name to Pi to get away from the often embarrassing pronunciation of his full given name.
That’s just one of the fascinating facts that surround this hotel on the outskirts of Paris. Originally built in 1929 it was designed to look like an ocean liner and adorned with elegant stained glass. The hotel was opened that year by Olympic athlete and Piscine Molitor lifeguard Johnny Weissmuller. He later went on to become famous as Tarzan in many Hollywood movies. The Molitor became a Paris hotspot teeming with celebrities and stars of the fashion world.
The two large pools were home to many French fashion shows. In fact, the very first bikini was introduced to the world when it was modeled by Micheline Bernardini in 1946 at the Hotel Molitor. The outdoor pool performed double duty to keep the crowds coming as it was also used as an ice skating rink in the winter. But times and fashion changed, and the Hotel Molitor closed its doors in 1989. For many years it remained in disrepair, but even so, became home to many late night rave parties thrown by locals. These parties encouraged creative freedom and paved the way for much of the graffiti, which you see in the photo below.
If you’d like to see more about the Hotel Molitor’s history check out the short video below.
Later in 1989 a housing project was proposed that would have called for the destruction of the original building. A group of citizens formed an “SOS Molitor” coalition to save this Paris landmark. Their efforts proved successful and the entire complex was listed on the French Monuments Historiques program. After years of much neglect, damage from weather, vandalism and lack of maintenance, the complex was put up for bid by the Mayor of Paris.
In 2008 the group Colony Capital-Accor-Bouygues were chosen for the project to give new birth to the property. It was reopened in 2014 to much praise as a 5-star hotel with a restaurant and retail space.
The Rooms at Hotel Molitor
The hotel and rooms all feature a sleek modern design that feels comfortable and quiet, just a bit away from the hubbub of the city. As they say, it’s “a place of energy and creativity.”
All rooms are supplied with full bottles of Clarins bath products, which we really enjoyed. Another treat was the warming rack for our bath towels – an extravagance we really enjoy. Nothing says “Ahhh” better than stepping out of the shower and grabbing a warm towel.
Our room had a terrific view of the outdoor pool. Interestingly, looking out the room window did almost make us feel like we were on a luxury ocean liner.
The pools are definitely the stars of the Hotel Molitor show. Whether you choose to stay inside or enjoy the outdoor pool you will find them both beautiful and big. You can get some serious laps in or just lounge on the deck with a book and cocktail. The outdoor pool is heated to a comfortable 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Either way, you’ll feel the history and stories surround you as you relax and enjoy.
The Spa by Clarins
The moment you enter the spa you are engulfed in calmness. They offer full beauty services as well as massage, a steam room, sauna, and herbal tea room. Clarins products are used throughout the spa.
The Wave Dream room is a unique sensory experience that will take away all the stress and cares of the day. It’s a light show that gently takes you to another world.
The restaurant inside the lobby offers a full menu that is based around French cuisine. There is also a pool menu that allows you to enjoy the offerings as you like by the pool.
A breakfast buffet complete with fresh baked French pastries is on display every morning. We indulged our tastebuds to the pain au chocolat, which was buttery, crispy, chocolatey and delicious.
A lobby bar is centrally located in the hotel and makes for a great place to meet and catch up on the day. Sadly we didn’t get to see the rooftop bar but we hear that it offers an amazing view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower.
Our only regret is that we didn’t have enough time to enjoy all of the many amenities available at the Molitor. We’ll need to schedule another visit to truly relax and enjoy everything!
We really enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Molitor. The staff was extremely friendly and welcoming. From the moment we arrived, we were enchanted by the surrounding art and engaged in learning about the fascinating history of Hotel Molitor. If you’re looking for a unique hotel with an engaging personality all it’s own, we highly recommend a visit and stay at the Hotel Molitor.
Address: 13 Rue Nungess et Coli, 75016
THE QUICK BITE: When the Hotel Molitor opened in 1929 it was the most popular swimming bath in Paris for 60 years. Now it’s an urban oasis just minutes from downtown Paris.