district: 15th Arrondissement Vaugirard
Five years in the making, French property developer Pierre Beckerich’s model of full hotel service layered over Airbnb-type accommodation has opened March 2017. The YOOMA Urban Lodge is set between mini skyscrapers (including the unmissable 1970s Totem Tower) overlooking a busy riverside road in the 15th arrondissement of central Paris.
In the hands of creative director Ora Ito, a former office block has been updated and reconfigured into pop-coloured rooms for two, four and six guests. The curvaceous façade of the 1970s structure is clad in stainless steel and aluminium sections punctuated with deep blue and black panels, a gigantic fresco that provides the concrete towers of the Beaugrenelle neighbourhood with a new eye-catching landmark.
If the striking graphics look familiar, it’s because Ito managed to lure his friend Daniel Buren onboard the project. In what is probably his largest permanent Parisian installation since his forest of columns at the Palais-Royal, the legendary French artist unfurls his trademark MO of coloured strips and blocks into the reception-lounge, adjacent restaurant and interior hallways.
In the rooms, Ito channels a similar pop-art sensibility with red, green, blue and yellow panels that are an explicit homage to Mondrian and Charlotte Perriand. Big windows and white bed linen compliment the cheery palette, but it’s the nifty design features that impress most. Luggage can be stowed away under the nonstandard-height bed, rooms have a foldaway desk and electric plugs and USB jacks total three per person.
Modest-sized bathrooms sport telephone box-sized rain showers and YOOMA-branded Fragonard soap dispensers. Larger rooms sleeping four or six guests have uber-cool cabin bunk beds or ‘pods’ with sliding doors that Le Corbusier would have wholeheartedly approved of. Vinyl flooring and the absence of any decorative features render the rooms slightly hostel-like.
A sprawling rooftop garden, besides featuring views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, supplies the house restaurant and cooking school with a seasonal bounty of green beans, tomatoes, herbs and strawberries. The restaurant showcases 130 design chairs ranging from Panton’s classic 1960s S-shaped chair to Ange, a funky restyling of Fermob’s romantic 1900 chair by Moroccan-French fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac: look for the wrought-iron chair with angel wings.