Meet the 30-Year-Old Making Waves in Paris’s Tenth Arrondissement
Arnaud Lacombe is the head of Savoir Vivre, a lifestyle group that’s launched a series of smart, stylish venues, including Hôtel Bourbon.
BY ADAM ROBB
September 26, 2018
One year into Hôtel Bourbon’s tenure on Rue des Petites Écuries, in Paris, the nightclub’s name has proven fitting: At Arnaud Lacombe’s buzzy venue, it’s actually possible to stay overnight—provided you’re on the basement dance floor. Thanks to the chance acquisition of a license to operate at all hours, downtown kids, skater girls, and artists sway together well past sunrise, and long after thediscotheques close.
Lacombe, 30, is the head of Savoir Vivre, the lifestyle group that’s making waves in the Tenth Arrondissement. In the past three years, his team has launched a series of smart, stylish venues on the same stretch of pavement. This burgeoning food-and-beverage empire includes Da Graziella, the city’s go-to spot for Neapolitan-style pizza; Déviant, a progressive natural-wine bar; and Vivant, where chef Pierre Touitou (son of A.P.C. founder Jean Touitou) offers a mash-up of Tunisian and Japanese influences. Savoir Vivre is young, creative, and, crucially, flush with cool.
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To create Hôtel Bourbon, Lacombe teamed up with Guillaume Le Donche, the Paris nightlife guru who learned the industry at artist Andre Saraiva’s Le Clique, and later founded the record label Youngunz. Their idea: a maximum occupancy of 200, no cover charge at the door, and plenty of cheap drinks. Billed as “a house for insomniacs,” Hôtel Bourbon’s interiors—a tactile homage to the retro-hedonist aesthetics of late Italian photographer and furniture designer Willy Rizzo—beg for lingering. A downstairs bar is freshly dressed in peacocking vases of lush wildflowers from Pampa; a hazy neon-lighted smoking parlor is tiled like a steam room. There are Rougier lamps and neon carpets, with graphic elements by Inés Longevial. Seating arrangements evoke the democracy of a hotel lobby. Once inside, guests can sit wherever they please: It doesn’t take VIP status to secure one of the mirrored cocktail tables with built-in ice buckets for bottles of house champagne.
(That’s not to say Hôtel Bourbon is lacking in star power; the New York Times recently spotted the likes of Emily Ratajkowski, Kid Cudi, Chris Pine, and Georgia May Jagger passing through.)
Still, the fundamental always-on appeal of Hôtel Bourbon might ultimately be its undoing. The runaway success has meant more late nights than expected—even for the managers of an all-hours club. “We’re fucking dead, just exhausted,” says La Donche, hinting that he and Lacombe may have just one more season of the discoteque left in them.
Their next project? Somewhere that guests—and the Savoir Vivre team—can actually lay their heads. “We’re looking for a space for a small boutique hotel—30 rooms,” La Donche says. “We just need to fall in love at first sight as we did with the first three projects.”
Maybe that will be in the Tenth Arrondissement. Maybe not. (La Donche only allows that they’re looking for a “sunny” place to roost.) Either way, the concept won’t resemble anything else in Savoir Vivre’s current portfolio.
“If you focus on an existing place, you’ll always make copies. Maybe better, but still copies,” Le Donche says. “We already make people eat, drink, love, and dance. To have them sleep with us may be the maximum level of entertainment.”