Creating A Sanctuary That Exudes The Comfort Of Home And The Glamour Of Paris

Good hotels will make you feel at ease but great hotels will make you feel at home. The Le Roch hotel stands on the corner of Rue Saint-Honore – it’s close to the big tourist attractions of the city and yet it feels calm – it’s a sanctuary. Perhaps the reason it feels so homely is because for the designer behind it, Sarah Lavoine, it is almost. “It’s in my neighborhood,” she explained to us when we sat down together in Paris, “it’s really like my home. It is my home”.

Day-to-day you can find Sarah manning the fort at her own interior design company but the Le Roch hotel is something special – it’s timeless. “I wanted to create a space with soul, not something that looks good now but won’t last”, she says – and this is the essence of a home – it needs to last; it needs to be durable but beautiful. The hotel is dotted with paintings and books, it is luxurious but in an inviting – come sit here – way. It’s not about creating a clinical environment that looks pristine.

Lampshade in lobby

The bedrooms feel cosy and comfortable with functional fixtures and softer furnishings to create a feeling of space – hard to find in the centre of Paris – but also one that cocoons you after a day of sight-seeing. Sarah has managed to make each of them feel personal – they are not flat-packs or blueprints of each other but thoughtful variations. Velvet curtains frame the world outside and pouffes and walls take on dark blues, and even black, which seem to ready to absorb their occupant, while wooden floors and mirrors keep the room feeling fresh – they keep the light from being swamped by the dark colour palette.

Bookshelves in lobby

Even the public areas of the hotel still feel somehow private – they are an extension of the bedrooms rather than separate spaces. They are also an extension of the surrounding neighborhood – one that Sarah has inhabited for 32 years – beautiful and cosmopolitan yet steeped in history and the imperfections of passing time. It’s fashionable, a focal point during Paris Fashion Week, and yet for most of the year it feels almost like a self-contained village.

Candelabra lights bookshelves

The hotel, and its designer, are not pretentious they are authentic. They soak up all the best bits of Paris and add their own personality – they are traditional but continuously moving with the times. If ever the phrase, home-away-from-home, were applicable – it would be here.

We sat down amongst the mirrors, lamps and multitude of textures to find out more about how this collaboration came about and what the hotel really means to it’s designer.

Suite bedroom

The Plus: What’s the inspiration for the design?
Sarah Lavoine:
The inspiration for this hotel, this place, was to make a place very Parisian, but also my work is not like in attendance, like what’s good now and won’t last.
What I want and what I like is space that has soul, and I like a home.
If you see there are some books, there are some paintings…it could be my bedroom or my living room downstairs. That’s what I want to do, something where you feel at ease right away, and cosy.

Suite vanity desk details

TP: So you mentioned you wanted to make it somewhere where you can live, so that guests can live in really comfortable and cosy place. How have you done this?
When you go to hotels, sometimes it’s very impersonal. There’s not one hotel like this in Paris, well in this neighborhood…small, with an outside, and a terrace and a swimming pool. It’s a small, cosy hotel, so it was important to respect that, and I think you can fit it with the colours, the materials, the wood, mirrors or the velvet curtains. The choice of the materials was very important.

Light and mirror reflections in bar

TP: There are two different colours for two different sides of the hotel; one is dark green and the other dark red. How did you decide on these two colours?
I chose two colours for the hotel because the blue is my blue, this blue/greenish something is my colour, my identity. And the other one is like a dark red/burgundy, and I think it’s warm colours…I like warm colours. I like to mix colours. I like the black, I use a lot of black in the walls…but mixed with other colours, with white or with blue or with yellow…that’s really my work.

Mixing patterns and textures in the lobby

TP: Which part or parts of the design of this hotel, are you proud of the most? Where you feel like this is the highlight of the design of this hotel?
I think there’s not one part, in which I feel most proud of. I think it’s the whole concept, which works well. When you come in, and there’s a hidden space, you can’t imagine that when you’re walking in the streets.
It’s not always easy to say to the client “ok, I’m going to make a black wall, and a blue ceiling, and design everything”, and they trusted me, and that’s what I’m proud of. They gave me their trust, and I did it as if it was my own hotel. So that was a very good thing to do.

Warm lounge space

TP: How did the collaboration between you and the hotel begin?
The collaboration started when I received an email from the owners, saying they were planning to do a hotel here, and that they were making a shortlist contest. So I said, “well, ok, no problem, I can do it”. I told them that it was an important project for me because it’s my neighborhood – I work here, I love here and the kids go to school here. I really wanted to have a chance to be involved with such a local project. So, with my team, we created mood boards and a pitch and in the end, we won! I was very proud and super happy because it was a big challenge, but I’m happy with the result.

Dark walls meet patterned furniture in lobby

TP: You said you live around here, so nobody else can understand better than you. What is it about the areas surrounding the hotel that you love so much?
I’ve been living here for 32 years, so I’ve seen it change a lot but what I really like is that it’s very cosmopolitan: it’s a mix of tourism and locals because there is the Louvre, you go to the Opera Garnier. It’s beautiful; everywhere you look around is beautiful. Also, when it’s Paris Fashion Week you see all these fashion people come here and that’s exciting. For those of us who live here, it’s a village. I know everybody and I know my kids are safe. It’s that mix that makes it so interesting very interesting. There are not many places like this in the world.

Dimly lit marble reception

TP: What do you enjoy the most about interior design?
You never stop being creative, never stop finding new ideas or new inspiration, or curiosity. Anything is inspiring, and that’s great. Painting a picture, an exhibition, travelling, going to another country it can all be incorporated into your next piece of work.

Le Roch Hotel & Spa front signage

TP: What do you think is the most important thing, or most important things, for interior designers to bear in mind?
Everybody is different. Me, I have different work in my work – it keeps me fresh and inspired. There are interior design projects like hotels, restaurants and apartment and then there is also my brand. I just signed a very big new shop that I’m going to try and open for Christmas. It’s very big, so it’s the first time I’m going to be able to showcase everything I do – furniture, accessories, even fashion for the brand. It’s very exciting!

TP: How is this design different from your previous ones?
When you design, it’s a proprietary evolution. So it doesn’t ruin your identity. But I think progressing everyday and learning everyday.

Outside perspective of entrance

TP: Would you be interested in participating inn some design projects in China in the future?
I would love to have a project in China. I love to travel and I love Asia. I’ve been to Indonesia and Thailand and I’m doing a restaurant in Tokyo right now. So, yes, I would love to do something in China.

Upward views from courtyard

TP: How do you want your guests to feel when they stay at the hotel – apart from feeling at home?
I’m just expecting the guests to feel happy. You come to Paris, it’s a beautiful city, you stay in a great neighborhood, you shop around, you go to museums, places, restaurants…and you come back home and you’re happy.

Mirrors in bathroom

TP: If you hadn’t become a designer, what did you want to do?
When I was 19, I was living in New York, after my diploma, and I wanted to be an actress. But, I ended up marrying an actor and singer when I was very young and thought it would get too much, so I did something else and I became a designer.

Candles sit between mirrored wall panels opposite lifts

Candle detailing

Table detailing in lobby

Tap detailing

Classic, curved stainless bath detailing

Bedside table and fixtures in suite

Cosy corner in suite

Mirrors create extra space

Glass-ceilinged dining room with foliage centrepiece

Fine dining space

Cosy late night suppers beside the courtyard

Candelabras illuminate dark tile details

Velvet and wood detail in lobby

Ceramic light fixtures in lobby

Le Roch is a member of Design Hotels

Photography: Xixi Zheng