The 175-room Citizen M Paris La Defense opened in June 2017. The Dutch brand also has the 230-room Citizen M Paris CDG and the 338-room Citizen M Gare de Lyon, while the 80-room Citizen M Paris Centre is in the pipeline. Citizen M also has properties in the Netherlands, Denmark, the US and Asia.
The brand describes its offering as “affordable luxury”, employing vibrant interior design to appeal to a younger demographic of traveller, as well as a focus on essentials such as rapid self-service check-in terminals, 24-hour food and drink, free wifi and in-room movies (including porn), meeting space you can book on-demand online, a great coffee shop, inviting communal workspace, lots of plug and USB sockets, and a central location. Staff are trained to be able to do everything – from making a nop-notch flat white to processing sales from the on-site concept store. They never need to ask a manager for assistance.
There is no gym or swimming pool, no suites (all rooms are the same category), no baths, no restaurant with waiter service and ambitious menus (there is a high-quality canteen and bar instead), no ballroom, no butlers, no miniature bottles of conditioner and shampoo, no room service (although you can bring things upstairs from the canteen), no doormen, no chauffeurs and no traditional staffed reception (although there are always staff in the communal areas). The removal of all these things means the hotel can keep overheads down.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Upon entering through a double set of pink-tinted automatic sliding doors, guests are greeted by a glossy red sculpture of a bowing, grinning man. Immediately ahead are escalators going up to the check-in area one floor above, and a set of ground-floor lifts beyond. To the right of the entrance is a coffee shop. Giant shelving units shelves that go from floor to ceiling display quirky objets d’art, books and vases.
On the walls throughout the public space are original works of art from the owner’s personal collection – they are all contemporary, colourful and bold. On some of the walls and ceilings you’ll see zany murals, and throughout the open-plan dining/working/chill-out areas are funky sofas, cushions, glass coffee tables with porcelain guns, big TV screens, and chic designer furniture from Vitra (a mix of sit-up podium tables and work benches). Black and red carpets in the corridors are made bespoke, with an aerial map of Paris printed on.
Guests check-in at computer terminals by the lifts on the first floor (staff – who are young and friendly – are there to help if you need it). Key cards are provided that allow you to activate the lifts and can be used to bill food, drink and anything from the concept store to your room. This worked very well. Check out is done in the same way – when I had an issue with my bill, it was quickly resolved. Receipts are automatically emailed to you on departure.
WHERE IS IT?
In the business district of La Defense, opposite the new U Arena stadium that is opening this autumn. La Grande Arche and La Defense metro station are a ten to 12-minute walk away. Note that the hotel entrance is on a pedestrianised boulevard accessed by a side road – if you arrive by taxi the driver probably won’t know where the hotel is. (Apparently Citizen M is going to put more signs up.) If in doubt, just ask to be dropped off at the end of the road. The hotel entrance is directly to the right.
All rooms are designed the same, so the overnight experience is very democratic. The hotel describes the units as like a “really homely spaceship” and I’d be inclined to agree. They are compact in size, have drawers to store your suitcase in under the bed and purple mood lighting (rather like at Yotels) – although you can change it to any colour you like with the iPad provided.
There are also pod-like walk-in showers and toilets, large bottles of AM/PM shampoo/shower gel (but no conditioner, soap or body lotion), lots of white surfaces, a workdesk, a very comfortable built-in king-size bed, free wifi and wireless streaming from an iPad Mini to the TV. You can also control many of the room settings such as temperature and the blackout blinds. It’s high-tech but intuitive.
In the room’s entry hall is a sink, a mirror, space to hang clothes and a hairdryer. There was also a full-length mirror behind the door but in my room it was smashed. Under the sink is a fridge stocked with free mineral water (no alcohol or snacks though). Windows face out on to the city – mine had a view of La Grande Arche. Sound-proofing was great, despite construction work going on outside.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Food and drink is available around the clock at the first-floor canteen and bar. In the morning a plentiful buffet is laid out with fresh juice and croissants, fruit, granola, yoghurt, cheese, bread and cold cuts, as well as dishes of scrambled eggs and sautéed cherry tomatoes. Coffee is made to order and staff whizz around cleaning up so the place is kept ship-shape.
As there aren’t many restaurants in the vicinity of the hotel, being able to have a hot meal any time of day or night is great. There is a simple menu with three or four meals to choose from – these are prepared fresh every day by Merci Jerome caterers and then heated up by staff on-demand. I had a dish of vegetarian curry with wild rice one evening, sitting at the communal table (well lit from above). There are also salads, sandwiches, beers, wine and soft drinks available in the fridges. Much of the produce is locally sourced.
As well as an outdoor terrace, there is the bar, where the house pours include include Ketel One vodka. This was busy in the evenings I was there. Downstairs is Coffee M, which uses beans roasted and blended in Holland.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
On the first floor is a workstation with four Mac computers (one US and three French keyboards) and a printer for public use. The only downside to being a tourist working in the communal areas is the plug sockets are all continental so you have to use an adaptor.
Downstairs there are three meeting rooms on the ground floor that all have natural daylight, and chalkboard and whiteboard walls, which I thought were a really clever touch that I hadn’t seen before. They also have rainbow Vitra furniture, Nespresso machines, huge flatscreen TVs, great lighting and displays of curios so the venue isn’t a boring box to spend a day in.
One of the best things about having meetings at Citizen M is you can book the meeting space on a first-come, first-served basis, online. Food and drinks are available 24 hours, with airline trolleys wheeled in that deliver your catering. As in the rest of the hotel, wifi is free. For large-scale meetings, organisers will be able to use the U Arena opposite.
There is no on-site gym or pool but you can get a running map from reception and there is a partnership with a local gym where you can buy a day pass.
Overall I felt this was very much a hotel for the 21st century – it makes you feel relaxed and at home. It’s stylish and businesslike but also has a sense of humour, without being gimmicky. It really succeeds in delivering what it sets out to. The prices are capped (I am told) even during the busiest times of the year so your stay will always be good value for money. A superb option for business travellers who will struggle to find good quality, affordable accommodation in this expensive city. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 175 rooms that are all the same category. There are nine floors.
HIGHLIGHTS Great interior design, iPads in the room loaded with free movies and environmental controls such as mood lighting, communal space you want to work in, meeting rooms that inspire and a fresh buffet breakfast in the morning. The roof terrace facing the stadium is a bonus.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started from €169.
CONTACT Citizen M Paris La Defense, 194 Jardin de l’Arche, Paris; tel +33 186 655 960; citizenm.com