Parisian Living

Business Travel Made Easy at CitizenM Hotel La Défense

by Darlene Lim

HiP Paris Blog checks out citizenM hotel

For most travelers, a trip to Paris conjures up images of charming cafes, cobblestone streets and open-air markets (background accordion music optional). But those who come to the city on business know that there’s more to Paris than just the Champs-Elysées and la belle Tour Eiffel. Just west of the city limits and a short metro ride into town is a bustling business district known as La Défense, populated with towering skyscrapers and an abundance of concrete, glass and chrome largely incongruous with the gay Par-ee of our collective imagination.

HiP Paris Blog checks out citizenM hotel

Business folk (and savvy tourists looking for cheaper room rates) often choose to stay at La Défense for its convenient proximity to the multitude of French multinationals based there. It’s these travelers that Dutch hotel group citizenM (short for “Mobile Citizen of the World”) is hoping to attract with their first Paris hotel, located in the heart of a redevelopment project that is bringing more green space, bars and restaurant terraces to the mostly concrete neighborhood.

HiP Paris Blog checks out citizenM hotel

citizenM invited HiP Paris to come experience the latest addition to its boutique chain of “smart hotels” first hand, which is how I ended up standing in front of the citizenM La Défense one weekend, my bag packed for a staycation, with boyfriend in tow.

The first thing I noticed upon entering the hotel was the absence of a traditional reception desk. In its place, a ring of touch screens allows guests to check in, choose their room and activate a key card, all by themselves (though staff is hovering nearby, ready to help). Multiple screens means nobody has to wait in line. Smart indeed.

HiP Paris Blog checks out citizenM hotel

The second thing that struck me was the decor. Bright, contemporary and unlike other hotels of its kind, it’s a breath of fresh air compared to many of the nondescript business hotel chains I’ve stayed in. Floor to ceiling shelves  display an eclectic mix of artwork, books and colorful objets. The space is tastefully decorated with designer furniture from Vitra; and a floor-to-ceiling mural by Paris- and New York-based artist collective AVAF, which spans two floors.

The common areas in citizenM hotels are designed to feel like your living room, one staff member explained to me. They’re meant to be inviting spaces that make you want to spend time socializing outside of your room, hanging out in front of the fireplace, working at one of the computer stations, sipping coffee and surfing the web, or meeting friends for drinks on the patio.

HiP Paris Blog checks out citizenM hotel

My hotel room reminded  me vaguely of a spaceship pod—sleek, shiny and streamlined. Modern white on white décor punctuated by tasteful splashes of pop art keep the compact-but-efficient quarters feeling spacious rather than confined. As I inspected the premises further, I half expected to hear the voice of HAL 9000 reminding me to turn off the bathroom light.

HiP Paris Blog checks out citizenM hotel

The luxurious rain shower and comfortable King-size bed got an immediate thumbs-up from my 6’4” boyfriend, who judges all accommodations on how “tall-friendly” they are, while I am instantly drawn to the custom shower gels for “AM and PM” (I’m a sucker for bath products).

HiP Paris Blog checks out citizenM hotel

We had fun playing with the room’s “MoodPad”, a tablet that controls everything from the blinds, temperature and lighting, to the list of free movies available for viewing on the big-screen TV. As we cycled through the different “mood” settings, we couldn’t help but giggle at the less-than-amorous “romance” setting, with its dim red lights and slightly sketchy music. We eventually settled on “party”; its colorful strobe lighting and techno beat put us in the mood for a drink and we headed downstairs to the CanteenM bar for a cocktail, then outside to enjoy the sunset view of La Défense’s famous Grande Arche from the couches on the terrace.

HiP Paris Blog checks out citizenM hotel

For early risers, the hot and cold breakfast buffet includes a satisfying variety of sweet and savory options, plus healthy extras like detox juice and homemade granola. On the ground floor, we discovered coffeeM, a bright, airy coffee bar that earns bonus design points for its ceiling fresco of Andy Warhol photo-booth selfies. The friendly on-duty barista  told us that hotel guests are not their only clientele; walk-in customers who work in the area also like to stop in for pastries and citizenM’s freshly-brewed signature coffee.

HiP Paris Blog checks out citizenM hotel

Check-out, like check-in, is self-serve, quick and painless. On a staff member’s advice, we hung on to our key cards, which double as luggage tags, and can be reused for future visits. Environmentally-friendly, well-designed and no-muss, no-fuss- that’s how I like to travel.

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Written by Darlene Lim for HiP Paris. Photos courtesy of Darlene Lim. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, Tuscany, Umbria or Liguria? Check out Haven In.

Written By

Darlene Lim

Darlene Lim is an award-winning short filmmaker who gave up her post of Communications Specialist at one of Canada’s largest media companies to embark on a one-year working holiday in Paris in 2010. It didn’t take long, however, for her to fall in love with the city and decide that one year in Paris wasn’t nearly long enough… She is now a print and video editorial project manager for a French fashion tech company and enjoys writing about everything from the best baguette in Paris to what it’s like to travel overnight on an unheated chicken bus to Uyuni, Bolivia, in the dead of winter (true story). View Website

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