Culture and haute-couture by Jacques Garcia
At the turn of the 20th century, Paris’ Maisons Closes, or pleasure houses, played second home to the city’s socialites and aesthetes. The Maison Souquet has reproduced the sumptuous decor of such a place, just a stone’s throw from Pigalle and its famous Moulin Rouge.
Only those in the know will discover the luxury that awaits behind an understated façade, signaled by two red lanterns and matching canopy; those who dare to slip through its doors and into its lounge and hidden bar; or those more fortunate still who will spend the night in its exclusive selection of 5* suites and rooms.
For those privileged few, the Maison Souquet is a secret refuge where they can bathe in the opulence of the Belle Époque. A maison where they belong, and where Jacques Garcia has once more conjured the elegance, mystery, and sensuality of subversive architecture. Bringing together culture and haute-couture, he has created an intimate, luxuriant taste of Parisian lifestyle.
The Maison’s heart
You have to shut out the world to hear the voice of your senses. In the tradition of the finest pleasure houses, the Maison Souquet disorients its guests to speed their surrender. From the lobby, to reception lounge, to champagne lounge, and conservatory, a wandering trail changes perspectives along with its guests. Like a tracking shot seen through the mind’s eye, the maison reveals a little more of its colorful treasures with every step, intimating myriad ways to indulge in the space.
Perfectly at home, guests see their room open out onto a plush setting where life revolves around the ritual of tea-time, play, and rendezvous before and after dinner. Welcomed as old friends, guests are also invited to reserve the spa and 10m pool for their unmitigated private pleasure, or simply decide to read in the conservatory.
For Parisians too, the Maison Souquet is the kind of place that could become a regular haunt, where one meets their closest friends: a sublime extension of everyday life where it feels good to be served.
The Arabian Nights Salon is the first to greet guests at the Maison Souquet. Its décor, created in the early 20th century’s passion for the orient, has been maintained, while its majestic columns topped with quatrefoil framework, sculpted carpentry, stamped Cordovan leather inlay, and red marble floor establish the decor. It shimmers with the radiance of gilding, porcelain, blue-green enamels and stained glass windows that seem to have always belonged there.
Jacques Garcia is unrivalled in creating a modern expression of the 19th century. Here, he creates an uncontrived blend of Arabian style and Napoleon III velveteen in an eclectic collection of furniture, artwork, and paintings whose authenticity infuses the spirit of the place, magical and enchanting.
Little Pleasures/Secret bar
The Salon des Petits Bonheurs is the beating heart of the Maison Souquet. Designed to imitate a reading room with its monumental fireplace, piano, books, and games, this hidden bar is the focal point of life in the hotel by day and by night. At once grandiose and intimate, the majestic decor is mirrored in a parade of exquisite culinary delights.
In the afternoon, the main attraction is an elitist selection of teas, harvested from a Chinese garden by Master Tseng1. They vie for attention with luxury cocoa served as hot chocolate with black truffles, or as part of a savory émulsion.
From the aperitif until very, very late, craft abbey beers steal the show alongside cocktails concocted using the finest spirits. The stock of rare beverages and mysterious blends is accentuated by a menu of gourmet treats created by talented artisans. Authentic Italian gelato, fruited breads, intriguing preserves, Les Grands d’Espagne Iberico ham, seasonal or matured cheeses from the Ferme Saint Hubert, and a trio of Jerry Levy foie gras are served with surprising pairings.
These include the tea paired successfully with cheese, or cocoa with ham, and the delights of a uniquely prepared beverage.
Signature cocktail: Secrets of the Unicorn
Made from a base of 12-year old rum, this cocktail with hints of mulled wine is served in a glass smoked using wood sourced from the barrels of the Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot in Burgundy. The flavors are accentuated by a Port wine reduction infused with chai spices, and a touch of balsamic vinegar infused with Madagascan vanilla. The cocktail is served with an artisan preserve of organic figs, and a slice of 100% acorn-fed Pata Negra Iberico ham speared on a goose feather.
In the perspective of the salons, the conservatory leads out from a wall covered in ivy and jasmine. Its glass canopy is furnished with a comfortable circle of sofas and leads to the outdoor smoking area, where a swan-shaped bench seems to have escaped from the Malmaison itself.
The 14 rooms and 6 junior suites at the Maison Souquet pay homage to the singular beauty of the courtesans they are named after. Draped in two thousand meters of fabric, each forms a cocoon that reveals a unique atmosphere.
In turn Empire, Napoleon III, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, or Art Deco, they play upon combinations of 120 fabrics compiled during a search that went on for months.
Jacques Garcia was able to use these precious textures to create theatrical hideaways. Room 203, known as Rita, is interwoven with thousands of peacock feathers, while two doors down, Rose echoes Baudelaire’s words that the beautiful is always bizarre.
On the third and fourth floors, the same luxury can be found on a larger scale. The two La Païve junior suites form an apartment that is home to a collection of objects rivaled only by the Liane de Pougy junior suite, with an original Rateau that sets the tone for a decor freely inspired by Jeanne Lanvin’s apartment.
Tucked away in a subdued corner of the maison, the Maison Souquet’s spa is the part of the hotel where fantasy reigns most freely. Reserved exclusively for guests who request the key, the secret spa is decorated with a celestial ceiling whose golden stars shimmer across a cobalt blue sky. They sparkle above a 10m swimming pool and give the spa a unique feeling of fairytale magic that diffuses into the adjacent hammam and treatment room.
Around Pigalle, Paris of yesterday and today
The shadier side of Paris, the Paris of artists and the Moulin Rouge has found its home at the fact of Montmartre. The bawdy, wanton legend of the City of Light was forged in the area around the Place Pigalle, a legend of which the Maison Souquet parties now a part of.
Perfectly located in this bohemian quarter, it forms a bridge between Paris’ 18th and 9th arrondissements, halfway between the “village” of Montmartre and the city’s new night-spots. These are found to the south of Pigalle, a network of clubs and bars through which the hotel concierge will guide its guests.
Hospitality according to Jacques Garcia
Jacques Garcia is a man of paradoxes. Identifying himself as a left wing reactionary, he initially found luxury hospitality abhorrent… until he set about revolutionizing it.
After being blackballed at the Ritz bar where his father wanted to take him, he swore that he would never serve those who had once rejected him. But he did not count on the persuasive power of his friend Diane Desseigne, who in 1991 commissioned him to renovate the Royal in Deauville, the jewel in the crown of Groupe Lucien Barre, of which she was the young heiress.
“Chanel removed the corset and I took 3cm off the height of the seats”, the designer recounts, not without malice, to explain the project’s success.
The little something that changed everything. With unprecedented relaxation, he threw himself into turning hotels into a social utopia, dedicated to bringing Duchesses into contact with black rockers.
Since then, each of his hotel projects has thwarted the ennui of standardization, creating flagship spaces whose ensigns attract the powerful and the aesthetes from all directions.
The Hotel Costes in 1996 marks a definitive departure that still serves as a textbook case. He had fun with this project, managing to convince the public that the style of the 19th century was on the bleeding edge of modernity, before driving home his point with the Bourg-Tibourg hotel.
This was where the French designer showed his ability to turn the infinitely small into something grandiose. The man who divided his time between a Parisian shoebox apartment and the splendor of the Château de Champs de Bataille showed the world how to expand a space by cultivating the mental space that it creates.
His most recent Parisian hotels designed for the Groupe Maisons Particulières form part of this quest for exclusivity and new hospitality experiences.
Following La Maison Athénée, Maison Souquet again pushes back boundaries to lead Jacques Garcia into an arena where those who don’t know him would be surprised to find him.
And indeed, working on a hotel designed around the theme of a house of carnal pleasure at the same time as spaces in the Louvre dedicated to 18th century French furniture, or even refurbishing the royal apartments in the Palace of Versailles, produces surprising results.
And yet it is a new way for Jacques Garcia to assail the hypocrisy and taboos that he so despises. A fierce defender of the defenseless, and the man who from the age of 18 has blazed almost as many trails as Klein, Fontana, and Lichtenstein with 17th century furnishings and artwork, Garcia has never worried about straying from the norm.
Culture and haute-couture by Jacques Garcia At the turn of the 20th century, Paris’ Maisons Closes, or pleasure houses, played second home to the city’s socialites and aesthetes. The Maison Souquet has reproduced the sumptuous decor of such a place, just a stone’s throw from Pigalle and its famous Moulin Rouge. Only those in the know will discover the luxury that awaits behind an understated façade, signaled by two red lanterns and matching canopy; those who dare to...
- Year 2014
- Work finished in 2014
- Status Completed works
- Type Hotel/Resorts