Near the Place de Clichy in Paris’s 9th arrondissement, close to the nightlife hotspot that is the Quartier Pigalle, is one of the capital’s most stylish and most unique boutique hotels. Hotel Le Ballu is inspired by the fictional Balkan country of Syldavia, from the Tintin comics; if the reference is lost on you, imagine a whimsical cocktail of mid-century design with a decidedly Eastern accent.
The colors are as vibrant as the inspiration suggests, and the spaces are endlessly inventive — the owners are also the architects, which makes for the kind of stylistic daring that results in a distinctive visual identity. Meanwhile the rooms come with kitchenettes and in some cases freestanding bathtubs and/or private terraces; perhaps not palace-hotel territory, but extra comforts are always welcome in Parisian boutique hospitality.
Le Ballu’s restaurant, too, is a local highlight, and in a neighborhood like this, that’s saying something. Here inventive French classics are served in an Art Deco–influenced space that’s delightfully Paris-meets-Eastern-Bloc. There’s also a swimming pool, a rarity indeed at this end of the hotel market; aesthetically, it’s reminiscent of a Russian bath, just one more memorable detail to mark this one-of-a-kind hotel.