An Immovable Feast
StayOne made it easy to plant myself in a luxury Parisian home for a few days.
Written by Bridget Williams | Photography by Tony Bailey
For a few sweet days in May, I pretended to live the Parisian pied-à-terre life by booking an exquisitely updated four-story, 18th-century home in the heart of the Latin Quarter through StayOne. Situated just a few blocks from the sparse third-floor flat lacking hot water and a toilette that Ernest Hemingway shared with his wife Hadley on Rue Du Cardinal Lemoine, my temporary home was equally worthy of writing about and thankfully and decidedly more opulent, with a private garden and a heated pool.
A luxurious lobby and turndown service at a five-star hotel paled in comparison to my all-too-short routine of waking early to savor a cup of Mariage Frères tea at daybreak and listening to a sleepy city coming to life. Gradually, the wake-up chirps of myriad birds gave way to the chipper voices of young children setting off for school. From a cushy sofa in the garden, which was bursting with red-orange blooms of climbing roses that stretched up to a second-floor terrace, I'd nonchalantly wave to the dapper businessman casually smoking as he peered down at me from a nearby balcony and wondered if he was covetous of this private greenspace. Then, moving back inside, as my family and friends slept off their jet lag, I took time to appreciate contemporary interiors worthy of a feature in Architectural Digest and indulge in thoughts of becoming an expat.
The idea for StayOne began percolating after Thomas Bennett and his wife completed a high-ticket renovation of a villa in the south of Spain. Rather than have it sit empty when they weren't in residence, they opted to rent it, a decision they quickly regretted as their first tenants trashed the place. After vowing "never again," Bennet discovered that his experience is why nearly half of all vacation homeowners opt to leave their properties vacant for most of the year.
Setting out to create a community that links homeowners with qualified holiday renters, Bennett co-founded StayOne in 2018 with Jorge Munoz. "Our view is you don't need to be transacting with strangers," explained Munoz.
Unlike other vacation rental platforms, potential renters become members of StayOne by filling out a questionnaire with the option of linking their social media accounts to increase their circle of influence. Similarly, Every StayOne home is individually vetted and must pass 300 quality checks to ensure it meets the community's high standards.
Having launched with just ten members, StayOne now boasts more than 50,000 clients in 70+ countries. Their portfolio surpasses 3,500 homes in 250 destinations, many of which are unavailable elsewhere. After securing $5 million in funding, led by Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, the company expanded into the United States, opening a headquarters in Miami earlier this year. From ancient to contemporary, city to countryside, StayOne properties encompass everything from a stunning farmhouse positioned on the edge of a tranquil Catskills swimming creek in New York, to a magnificent eight bedroom villa on the site of a former medieval watchtower with a breathtaking view of Italy's Lake Como.
The level of trust facilitated by the StayOne business model means that a feeling of mi casa su casa extends from homeowner to renter. In Paris, the homeowners’ daughter was at the property to greet us upon arrival and go over the home’s particulars. The homeowner checked in daily to make sure we were pleased with our stay and to see if there was anything that we needed. When my daughter left something behind, she went above and beyond to locate it and reunite her with the missing item.
What I found to be most beneficial was a neighborhood guide assembled by the homeowners that I used daily to inform my selections for everything, from choosing the perfect patisserie at breakfast to a hotspot for a nightcap. Particularly helpful was a list of establishments that were recommended we bypass. As part of its expansion into the United States, StayOne is taking trip planning up a notch by launching bespoke itineraries for its members. For example, Coast to Desert: Wellness Escape will combine a week's stay in Malibu with a private yoga instructor and chef followed by a luxury private helicopter charter to Palm Springs.
Paris isn't lacking in options for travelers in search of opulent accommodations. However, there was certainly something exceptional about the opportunity afforded by StayOne for our multigenerational group to vacation at our own pace with ample room for stealing a quiet moment or enjoying a convivial aperitif. This adaptability is something I don't think we would have experienced in a traditional hotel setting and allowed for truly exceptional moments and memories in the City of Lights.
A few Latin Quarter recommendations from our hosts:
Inside the cozy and eclectic Narro Restaurant, located next door to Hemingway's first residence, chef Kazuma Chikuda, offers French, healthy, and contemporary cuisine using locally sourced ingredients (72 Rue de Cardinal Lemoine; restaurantnarro.fr/en/)
For afternoon tea with what the homeowner described as "the best cheesecakes in Paris," head to L'heure du Thé (23 Rue Lacépède)
Located in a former mansion and situated on the banks of the Seine at the edge of the Latin Quarter, Lapérouse first opened in 1766 and remains a classically Parisian establishment (51 Quai des Grands Augustins; laperouse.com)