Miaow – or rather miaou as the French put it. Hidden away between the faubourgs of the 9th arrondissement is Aristide, a spanking new, state-of-the-art cat hotel. Yes, you’ve heard me right – Paris’ very first hotel pour chats. So there’s no longer any excuse! Take your feline friend with you on holiday, park him / her at this cosseting hotel and visit him daily for a welcome tickle or simply to check on his volatile state of mind.
Now catteries are one thing – where you park your poor cat(s) while you head off on some hedonistic overseas splurge to sip sunny cocktails beside the waves. This leaves Felix (for example) stuck in a kind of cell behind bars, aka cat hell, supplied with food and water but none of that TLC he’s been brought up on, and surrounded by caterwauling feline hordes. However book him in at Aristide (“Hotel pour félins urbains” – i.e. hotel for urban felines) and he’ll never want to come home. Spoiled is hardly the word.
Re-reading these lines it sounds as if I’m writing the PR blurb – but truly I’m not. In fact I came across the hotel by chance while visiting a pal in his office right next door. He mentioned it en passant, waving his arm airily as we shot out for a coffee. Being seriously feline-oriented myself, I stopped in my tracks. “A cat hotel?” I spluttered… So in we went. In the lobby we were greeted by a tantalising array of cat-ophile accessories: scratch pads, organic catnip-stuffed mice in fluo pinks and lime-yellows, cat T-shirts, cat tattoos for obsessive owners and much much more.
Then, behind the reception desk we encountered the very feline and tres charmant owner, Gauthier Berdeaux. Gauthier, 32, took over a year to bring this project to fruition by consulting vets and an interior designer, getting a bank loan and topping it up with crowd-funding and finally converting the 250 square metre premises. His inspiration? his cat, Aristide. Of course. In fact you can see Aristide here, in Gauthier’s clever clip
And here’s Gauthier himself showing us the designer playroom – a cat paradise where they can climb ramps, exercise on wheels, leap around shelves and platforms, relax on a cushion, nibble fresh catnip, play with bobbles or watch fish in an aquarium. In other words CAT BLISS! During their daily playtime, veterinary assistants are present to prevent cat-aggro, although this would seem unlikely, as throughout the hotel a faint, very pleasant perfume permeated the air (so Frrrrench!). This turned out to be part cat pheromone, which has an instant calming effect. As a result every feline I saw looked content, if somewhat dozy – well it was siesta time after all.
Individual rooms are a spacious 4 square metres, with comfy beds, high ceilings, elevated shelves and perspex boxes jutting out over the corridor – so giving them excellent vantage points for keeping an eye on hotel activities. Corridor walls may be adorned with distinguished cat portraits, but there’s nothing frilly or ‘cute’ about this establishment with its minimalist white paintwork and functional, ultra 21st century furnishings.
Down to the nitty gritty – the tariffs. A double room costs 20€ per cat a night, while single occupation is 30€, a weekend 50€ (Fri – Sunday) – which includes all food (and you can bet on it being top quality if Aristide the cat has anything to do with it), playtime, room service and health insurance. There’s even a suite for a family of up to four cats. The formula clearly works as last week, barely two months old, Aristide received its 100th hotel guest.
The weekend deal could be perfect for Brits: whizz over by Eurostar with Felix, check him in, then check yourselves in at a nearby hotel in the hipsters’ 10th arrondissement. Do some serious Paris sightseeing, bar and restaurant investigations, pop in to see him a couple of times, then on Sunday night return home – completely guilt free and with a very happy purry friend. Thanks Catman!