The big screen lowers, the projector starts buzzing, and suddenly my buddy and I are enveloped in darkness.
From our very comfortable position (preferably on a huge bed) we have access to various snacks – everything from classic popcorn to our very own French picnic with fresh baguettes, slices of cheese and several slices of charcuterie – not to mention a nice bottle of wine worth €5.
Then Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon arrive and we enjoy our own private screening of the classic 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot.
But that’s not because we paid a fortune to book anything special. No, we’re in our own room at Hotel Paradiso, a unique hotel-cinema hybrid in the center of Paris where everything revolves around the screen. It contains a public cinema showing the latest movies, as well as 35 rooms and two suites on the seven floors above that can be converted into their own small screening rooms.
It is the brainchild of brothers Elishaand and Nathanaël Karmitz, who run the arthouse cinema chain MK2. They wanted to bring back what they felt was the lost art of really immersing yourself in a movie, rather than just watching it on TV or on a phone.
The idea is that you can select the movie you want from a selection of DVDs on a shelf in each hallway, or you can refer to the folder in the room that looks like a script and lists all the available movies. (more than 2,000, from all countries and genres). Once you’ve made up your mind, call reception on the old-fashioned black dial telephone – dial, what else, 007 – and they’ll deliver.
The rooms and suites all vary slightly in size and layout, with a separate two-story room called The Loft that can sleep up to six people. Ours has a terrace overlooking the Paris skyline (when we look, we pretend we can see the Eiffel Tower), rough plaster walls, vintage movie posters and an iPad to control the lights, as well as movie apps like Netflix, Disney+ and Canal+. Our bathroom is essentially separated from the main room by a glass wall, while Nuxe toiletries smell divinely honeyed.
Shockingly fashionable young Parisians who like to book a day to see artistic films (of course they do) and an array of film-loving tourists – mostly couples or couples, like us.
The local atmosphere
The hotel is located in Nation, an up and coming neighborhood with wide boulevards, an expansive circular green space and a number of cool shops and restaurants.
The historic Bastille district is within walking distance, as is the chic Place des Vosges, lined with elegant hotels – or mansions.
The trendy Le Marais district is also within walking distance with cool concept stores, perfumer Juliette Has a Gun and beauty boutiques such as Kiehl’s.
Not much further is the Pompidou Center with both permanent and regularly changing exhibitions. But with all these movies to watch, are you really going out?
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I, Ronald Payne, am a journalist and author who dedicated his life to telling the stories that need to be said. I have over 7 years of experience as a reporter and editor, covering everything from politics to business to crime.