When news broke that Kim Kardashian had been robbed at gunpoint in a plush hotel in Paris, the first question everyone asked was “which hotel”?
Then it was “how did they get past security?” or “How did they know what room she was in?”
It later became clear the attack did not take place in Le Bristol or the Ritz or any other traditional exclusive hotels in Paris, but in a “hotel particulier”.
Paris is full of hotel particuliers, which are exclusive urban private mansion houses often complete with gardens and courtyards, where huge aristocratic families used to call home.
There are believed to be around 500 in Paris today, but there was some 2,000 back in the 17th century.
One architect in 1688 defined them as “less beautiful than palaces but more beautiful than simple lodgings”.
Many have been converted into numerous apartments which are often rented out the extremely rich and famous.
The one that Kardashian rented out – known as Le Pourtales – has been used by many celebs in the past during their stay in the French capital.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Prince, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jay-Z and of course the Kardashians have all made Le Pourtales their homes in recent stays in the French capital.
(The big red door hiding Les Pourtales. AFP)
It stands in the eighth arrondissement on Rue Tronchet, not far from the famous Madeleine church.
It is popular because, as Le Figaro newspaper writes, you would “hardly even notice it” and as a result offers its guests “maximum discretion”.
Hidden behind a mammoth red door it contains nine separate apartments that can be rented out for several nights or weeks.
The apartments range from 95 square metres to 350 square metres. Each one has access to a team of 20 staff including a chef.
Classed as a “historic monument” in 2002 it is apparently not advertised anywhere, it doesn't even have its own website, with the owners preferring to depend on word of mouth to target foreign celebs.
Apartment prices are reportedly around €2,000 a night and can go up to €15,000 for the Sky Penthouse, located on the sixth and seventh floors.
One website described Le Pourtales as one of the best-kept secrets in Paris since it opened in 2010. Even after Kardashian’s robbery, several neighbours said had no idea celebs had been staying in their street.
There’s no plaque on the wall to ring the buzzer and no security staff standing outside on the street, a point that has been made after Kardashian was robbed.
But as Yves Abitol from the company My Concierge points out, most celebs bring with them their own security staff.
Les Pourtales is of course not the only Paris mansion that caters for celebs looking for an exclusive home.
The Reserve Paris near the Trocadero and Royal Monceau are just two others that cater to the rich and famous.
(The Hotel Lambert in the Île Saint-Louis, one of Paris's most famous hotel particuliers. AFP)
Not all hotel particuliers are rented out to celebs hoping to hide out in the City of Light.
Many hotel particuliers have been transformed into museums which are open for visitors, such as the Musée Eugene Delacroix, and the Maison de Victor Hugo.
Others like the Hotel de Beauvais have been converted into a court of appeal.
Some hotel particuliers have been owned by some of Paris's most famous residents like Gerard Depardieu.
In 2012, the actor decided to put his Hotel de Chambon, (see photo above) a listed property in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Pres quarter up for sale for a price tag of €50 million.