Canopy Introduces Hilton’s Boutique Lifestyle Brand Hotel To Paris • We
Building a new hotel that stands out in Paris, one of the most visited cities in the world, is a challenge at the best of times. But Hilton’s decision to move forward with the unveiling of its first Canopy in France shows remarkable faith in the future of tourism, even after an 18-month pandemic. Based on first impressions, from the view of the Eiffel Tower to the hospitality and quality of service, Hilton is off to a good start with its new boutique hotel.
Officially known as Canopy by Hilton, the hotel brand was first unveiled in 2014. At its core, the idea behind the concept is to provide a local and intimate experience tailored to each location. Canopy employees are called “enthusiasts” and the beds have, well, canopies. So far there are 27 Canopy properties with over 30 more in various stages of development in 16 countries and territories. In other words, Hilton is betting big on its 12th brand.
I had the chance to discover this 123-room wonder in September when it opened. A former Parisian utility building, luxury architect Jean-Philippe spent several years transforming it into a space that retains some notes of this industrial past mixed with a more modern sense of elegance.
The Canopy is located in the Tracadero district of Paris, which may not be the most well-known district for international visitors. But it turns out to be an asset. Tracadero manages to be a bit central and yet not too touristy.
To reach the hotel, we walked from the Eiffel Tower and the Left Bank of Paris then crossed the Seine via the Pont d’Iéna. Looking straight ahead we saw the gardens of the Tracadero, then just beyond, at the tip of the hill, was the Palais de Chaillot with its sprawl of white columns bracing in two directions. We climbed the hill to Place du Palais which is a paradise for Eiffel Tower selfie lovers.
La Canopée is just a 5-minute walk from the square, and just 15 minutes beyond is the Arc de Triomphe and Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This makes it an excellent perch for exploring the Right Bank from the 16th arrondissement.
One of the goals of the Canopy brand is to reflect the aesthetics of its local environment. In Paris, one might be tempted to simply imitate the iconic Haussuman style look that dominates the city. But Canopy did not choose the easy route. Instead, it took a more specific and unique design choice.
The original 1930s building was an artifact of the Art Deco movement, and the renovated building retains much of that sensibility. In the last century, the building was an electrical station that played a key role in the modernization of the city’s electricity grid. Upon entering the new hotel, the Art Deco touches are immediately evident.
These touches are reflected by the paintings hanging in the entrance which are inspired by several of the notable museums nearby: Palais de Tokyo, Museum of Modern Art, Palais de Chaillot. And many products for sale have been created in collaboration with local traders.
Even the exterior manages to blend in perfectly with the style of the neighborhood while maintaining a clean, modern look.
We stayed for 2 nights in one of the King rooms which usually costs £ 259 ($ 350) per night. Since I moved to France 7 years ago, I have stayed in many boutique hotels, and they all face the same challenge: they don’t have a lot of space to work. There is a delicate balance between wanting to maximize the number of pieces and the size of each piece.
Canopy largely gets that right. Our room was comfortable and yet spacious. The little things make a big difference, like the space on either side of the bed, closets, and the bathroom. Each felt like they provided enough space to move around without feeling like we were constantly bumping into a wall or furniture. This is important because we could relax and linger in the room whenever we wanted without feeling claustrophobic.
And what’s more, it’s even more expansive when you can soak in the surprisingly large tub and gaze at the Eiffel Tower. It’s a nice touch of luxury without having to leave the room.
A big gala
The first night of our stay was the occasion of an inauguration ceremony to mark the opening. Even on that first evening, the Canopy brand was fully reflected in the range of food and drink served.
The chefs worked hard in a kitchen visible through a picture window. The dishes served in the lobby by the waiters and at a large buffet table, all came from local producers mainly from the Ile-De-France region (with a few from France more widely). It’s both a characteristic of Canopy, but it’s also a part of French culture that we love: Knowing the origin and history of your food and cherishing the local ties.
In this case, everything from meats to cheeses to drinks could be easily traced back to the responsible producer.
After a short presentation in the lobby, we went up to the rooftop bar, which in many ways is the gem of the hotel thanks to its view of the Eiffel Tower.
The walkway was lined with standing tables, a bar, and various food stations with more local produce that had been turned into fusion appetizers such as truffle samosas.
Throughout our 2 day stay we also had plenty of opportunities to interact with these “enthusiasts”, who indeed seemed excited to be doing what they were doing. When we had dinner in the restaurant the next evening our waiter / enthusiast took several minutes to explain the ingredients of everything we ate as well as where they came from and even some stories behind the stories of the stories.
It is difficult to simulate this kind of knowledge and the pleasure that someone has in sharing it. We appreciate this insight and love of culture every time we eat in France. And I applaud Hilton for infusing all aspects of their new Canopy.