Tried & Tested

Hotel review: 25 Hours Hotel Terminus Nord, Paris

18 Aug 2019 by Hannah Brandler
Hotel room. Credit Nicolas Matheus

Background

The German-based 25 Hours Hotel group was founded in 2005 in Hamburg and now has boutique hotels across Europe, each with a distinctive (and always quite quirky) design. The company’s mission is to create “soulful spaces… based on dynamism, surprise and a touch of adventure.”

Accor has a 30 per cent stake in the hotel group, allowing bookings through its website. The group also has properties in Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Cologne and Dusseldorf, and we have previously reviewed the hotels in Zurich Langstrasse, Hamburg Hafen City, and Frankfurt the Goldman.

25 Hours is also set to open hotels in Florence, Dubai and Copenhagen in the next two years. The Parisian outpost, known as Terminus Nord, opened in January this year.

What’s it like?

Terminus Nord is located in a listed Haussman building dating back to 1870. Formerly a Mercure property, Axel Schonart Architectes, design studio Dreimeta and art consultancy Visto Images teamed up to transform  the 10,000 sqm property into a vibrant new hotel.

The original building’s small unassuming entrance, for instance, certainly didn’t fit with the eccentric 25 Hours style. Instead, the team created a large cast-iron door, which makes you feel like a character out of “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”, and a two-floor open-style lobby. The shops and restaurants have remained unchanged at street level, including the Brasserie Terminus Nord which opened in 1925. 

The 10th arrondissement has a strong North African and Indian presence, and the designers have worked hard to incorporate the area’s multicultural history and inhabitants into the hotel decor – expect floral motifs, ceramics, and portraits of the locals throughout.

Lobby

The lobby sets the tone for the rest of the hotel, with a colourful decor from the get-go. As you enter, there’s a large kaleidoscopic mirror protruding from green tiles, below which lies a vintage motorbike. Within the lobby, there’s a shop area, reception and café all merging into one another. The shop sells essentials as well as 25 Hours souvenirs – bed linen and door hangers among other knick-knacks. The neighbouring Café Corner sells cakes, pastries and drinks.

There were no queues and check-in was speedy. There is also a waiting area, with industrial seats (which look as if they have been sourced from a metro station), newspapers and a lemon-infused water dispenser.

Coffee Corner. Credit Steve Herud

A wide iron staircase leads to the first floor, where the restaurant, bar and meeting rooms are located (more on these later) as well as another waiting area with fake palm fronds in primary colours and murals on the wall. There is also a desk with functioning typewriters. To the right, there’s a lounge area with armchairs, floral rugs and a large communal table.

The key-card activated lifts have also been given a 25 Hours spruce, with bright pink walls and a screen playing a film about the hotel during the short ride up. On the guest floors, there’s another lift hidden behind a pink door, which blends into the rest of the magenta-clad hallway, save for the sign “ceci est un ascenseur”, a play on René Magritte’s famous surrealist painting “ceci n’est pas une pipe”.

Hotel elevator

Where is it?

The hotel is ideally located across the road from Gare du Nord in the 10th arrondissement, hence its name. The terminus houses the Eurostar, Thalys, RER and TGV, meaning that travellers can access four different countries pretty much from the hotel’s doorstep. It’s also easy to travel around the city, with metro lines 2, 4 and 5 stopping at Gare du Nord. I arrived on the Eurostar at around 2130 so was very pleased not to have to lug my bags around the city late at night, instead simply crossing the road and climbing into bed.

The Gare du Nord area itself isn’t the most attractive, filled with tourists at all hours and shabby fast food restaurants. Nevertheless, you’re unlikely to be hanging out just outside the hotel. Instead venture to Canal-Saint Martin, Paris’ hipster area just ten minutes walk away – read more about the district here – or head north to the cobbled streets of the artistic Montmartre quarter. 

Exterior of hotel

Rooms

The hotel has 237 rooms in seven categories located across six floors, with magenta hallways adorned in portraits of locals. The categories include small (12-16 sqm), medium (17-21 sqm), large (22-29 sqm) and extra large (30-33 sqm). There are then ‘plus’ rooms for medium, large, and extra-large, which denotes that they come with a balcony. The small comes with a single bed, medium and large with a double bed, and extra large with a king-size bed.

All rooms have the same amenities, which include high-speed wifi, bluetooth speakers, a smart TV, a safe, a small wooden desk with a rotary-style telephone, and an eco-friendly Freitag or Canvasco bag made from recycled material. I brought my own reusable canvas bag so didn’t end up using this, but think it could definitely come in handy for some guests. I was quite looking forward to a cup of tea on arrival so was disappointed that there weren’t any coffee or tea-making facilities, though it turns out that the extra large rooms come with a Nespresso machine. 

While the toilet is in a separate room, the bathrooms are only separated by a sheer netting. Walk-in showers have a rain shower-head (most of the extra large rooms have bathtubs) and toiletries in large dispensers are provided by cosmetic company ‘Stop the water while using me’. The bathroom also has a note telling guests that the water is drinkable and to avoid buying plastic bottles, instead recommending donating this money to water projects in Nepal; 50 cents from each night’s booking goes towards supporting such projects.

While my room was a Medium+, it did feel rather cosy, owing to the fact that it’s quite narrow when you enter. The door collided with the mobile rack on wheels, the hotel’s replacement for a conventional wardrobe, intended to mimic hotel trolleys which transport clothes bags during Paris fashion week. There is space to hang a few clothes and some shelves too. 

Large Room. Credit Nicolas Matheus.

There are plenty of plug sockets and USB points, both bedside and on the desk. There’s a large TV hidden behind a sliding cabinet which has black and white photos of the area customised with colourful collages, and some doll-like ornaments.

The decor is a continuation of the rest of the hotel, with very loud colour schemes and clashing patterns; I happened to be wearing a paisley-clad jumpsuit, so unintentionally fitted in quite well. The bed linen, too, is filled with floral motifs and patterned throws, while overhead there’s a woven lamp and a faux-skull ornament fixed to the wall. The rooms are also filled with written expressions, whether that be the ‘Ooh La La’ sign which lights up on the mobile rack, the pillows labelled ‘let’s spend the night together’ and ‘almost home’, or the ‘do not disturb’ signs which instead say things like ‘there’s a scary monster behind the door’. It’s all a bit much but certainly makes for an interesting stay.

Room. Credit Nicolas Matheus

The rooms have lots of different lighting fixtures, from exposed lightbulbs on the side of a cabinet to desk lamps and art-deco brass-coloured bedside lamps attached to the wall – the last of these shine a spotlight on you as if you were a Hollywood star. This fits with the Indian film posters displayed on the walls – mine had a fictional poster for “The 25 hours express to Kollywood”. The light switch situation, however, was really confusing. They don’t seem to work when the entrance one hasn’t been rotated slightly and it becomes a bit of a guessing game to find out which switch turns on which light, much like when a fuse has tripped.

Portraits of Gare du Nord

In honour of its surroundings, the photographic book ‘Portraits of the Gare du Nord’ is open on a random page, propped up on colourful patterned pillows, encouraging you to get to know the neighbourhood characters. There is also a book with recommendations of restaurants, boutiques, bars and cultural sights.

The balcony with a trellis of blooming red flowers was a real bonus. While the room’s interior design is reminiscent of African design, the balcony reminds guests that they are in the heart of Paris, with views of the city’s famous rooftops and the Sacré-Coeur in the distance.

There are a couple of stools with cushions, and I enjoyed worked out here in the evening sun to the tune of beeping cars and chirping birds. The balconies have white shutters, though these are purely for show, with heavy curtains for use instead. This does mean that it’s quite noisy at night as the Gare du Nord area never really sleeps, but this didn’t bother me as I like to hear the buzz of a lively street.

View of Gare du Nord. Credit Steve Herud

Food and drink

Neni, located on the first floor, is the hotel’s all-day restaurant, specialising in Middle Eastern cuisine. Founded by the Molcho family, its name is inspired by the first letters of her four sons – Nuriel, Elior, Nadiv and Ilan.

The restaurant is ‘possibly’ the most Instagrammable spot in the 10th, with an entrance marked by a bright pink neon sign and a functioning vintage Citroën Acadiane coffee van. Powdery pastel pinks dominate the room, alongside copper accents, white marble-topped tables and upholstered velvet chairs and banquettes. The pink walls are covered in framed artwork, floors are covered in floral rugs and large bay windows face Gare du Nord, allowing guests to people-watch in the comfort of this millennial pink room. The menu is sharing-style and follows the ‘balagan’ ethos, which it describes as ‘enjoyable chaos’. 

Neni Restaurant. Credit Steve Herud

A breakfast buffet costs €24 and includes delicious French pastries, cooked eggs, French toast, cold meats and a make-your-own cereal section with various superfood toppings. The most enticing spread for me, however, was the Middle Eastern dips – this is my favourite cuisine, after all – so I paired a chunk of crusty baguette with some houmous, labneh and a chickpea dish. I followed this with a pain au chocolate because frankly it’s impossible not to. The Café Corner also provides a grab and go breakfast for €9 if you’re in a rush.

Hotel guests can order room service from Neni and receive a 12 per cent discount if they pick it up from the restaurant. The friendly staff told me that hotel guests rarely eat dinner here – this is unsurprising given the wealth of dining spots in the city – but the restaurant is instead brimming with Parisians.

Breakfast buffet

The Sape Bar has an entirely different feel, with dim lighting, a bronze-coloured mosaic glass bar, dark wooden flooring and leather armchairs. The bar pays homage to the African “La Sape” fashion movement and has a DJ deck beneath a vinyl-filled wall for late night tunes.

I visited on a Sunday night, so it wasn’t very busy but there were still guests enjoying the bar’s intruiging cocktails. I opted instead for one of their mocktails – an edible-flower topped Robespierre (€9), named after the French revolutionary, which combined blackcurrant, lemon, sugar, elderflower and Thomas Henry tonic. It was delicious, but quite expensive considering it had no alcohol. If you’re feeling peckish, the menu also has a ‘stolen at Neni’ section, with bites such as houmous and falafel on offer. 

Sape Bar. Credit Steve Herud

Business

The hotel’s two creative meeting rooms are connected to Neni but separated by double doors. The rooms cater to eight and 14 people, respectively, but can be interconnected for bigger groups. There is also a small snug area in the Sape Bar, known as the Speakeasy, which can fit ten people.

A large wooden communal table on the first floor, just outside the Sape Bar, has plenty of plug sockets and is good for informal work.

Working Area. Credit Steve Herud.

Leisure

Guests can rent Schindelhauer bikes (for a fee) from reception, with cycling guides curated especially for the hotel, or take advantage of a complimentary Mini (availability depending) through a partnership with the car brand. There are also towels, water and maps with jogging routes available at the lobby from 0600 to midday.

Lobby. Credit Steve Herud

Verdict

A perfectly located hotel with a true sense of the neighbourhood. Staff are very friendly, the dining options are delicious and the decor is whacky but certainly fun. Rooms are on the small side, but if you’re busy going to meetings in the city then this is hardly a problem, though I would recommend opting for one of the ‘plus’ options so that you can take advantage of the balconies.

Fact Box

  • Best for Its ideal location right opposite Gare du Nord
  • Don’t miss A Middle Eastern feast at Neni
  • Price Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in August start from €119
  • Contact 12 Boulevard de Denain, 75010 Paris; +33 1 42 80 20 00; 25hours-hotels.com/en/hotels/paris/terminus-nord
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