HOY is a hotel. But far from being just that! Following the trend of the “new” hotel industry, the 22-room establishment run by Charlotte Gomez de Orozco truly is a place that gives life to the concept contained in the three letters of its name. House of Yoga. The Mexican-born owner delights in the experience and the moment – HOY means “today” in Spanish. For if the yoga is undeniably a cornerstone of the hotel, the latter is more globally dedicated to well-being but also – and this is important – to good living. The young woman was groping her way through the process of bringing her ambitious idea to life. Then, miraculously, she met a duo of consultants far from unknown in the profession, Séphane Abby and Sabrina Goldin. With several great projects to their credit – Carbón, Cantina and The Asado Club, that’s them – the founders of the BabyGold studio help Charlotte define the offer for another piece of the puzzle, Mesa. Quite literally, the “table” of the HOY. An entirely plant-based, seasonal, gourmet menu. A jewel of inventiveness that allows us to discover surprising foods with unsuspected and nutritious virtues. Recipes designed not to “rush” their customers, but to encourage them to change their habits, and to change them at every level. Taste and smell are just as important here as anything else. Sight and sound included. So, HOY offers, in addition to a large number of yoga classes, sound healing and aromatherapy workshops. A space is even reserved for a complete exploration of energy treatments. And all this is presented in a holistic setting with neutral tones and natural raw materials such as concrete, wood and terracotta, in homage to the architectural codes of Mexico. If you still have doubts about it, rest assured, HOY is indeed a place where you can relax. And, strictly speaking, how could you have such a soothing atmosphere without plants? Well, that’s alright. We haven’t mentioned the Florería yet! Located at the entrance of 68 Rue des Martyrs, the space is dedicated to flowers. “They have a magical quality that connects us to nature, and as soon as we are close to nature, we automatically feel better.” HOY, an urban refuge par excellence.
HOY hotel and Mesa restaurant, 68 Rue des Martyrs – 75009 Paris. Reservations by telephone on +33 (0)177 378720 and +33 (0)177 378721 as well as at www.hoyparis.com.
Charlotte, Sabrina: can you introduce yourselves, please?
I’m 27 years old, Franco-Mexican, and I come from a family of hoteliers. I’ve lived in Paris since I was 13 years old, but I grew up in Mexico. After I finished at hotel school four years ago, I opened Gisou, a wine and cocktail bar in memory of my grandmother, who was called Gisèle. After two years in business, my mother suggested that I team up with her to give life to a new project: HOY.
I arrived in Paris in 2014 from Buenos Aires, where I was making a career in industrial design. The following year with Stéphane Abby – my partner – we started setting up restaurants in Paris: Carbón, Cantina and The Asado Club. All of them have as a common denominator ethical product sourcing (fair prices, small producers, etc.) and a strong commitment to making eating well available to everyone. Today our activity extends beyond our own premises. On behalf of our clients, we implement innovative and accessible projects with a strong artistic direction. Our studio, BabyGold, has recently finished the MESA restaurant at the HOY Hotel. We realised from this and from other projects that it is often challenging to create something from start to finish. So today we offer a complete service from the development of the food concept, interior design and visual identity through to the creation of the menu and drinks. Sometimes even the search for a location!
What is HOY?
HOY is the embodiment of the place I was always searching for when I was travelling with my family or friends. It’s the type of hotel that you find in hot countries or near the sea but not in city centres. HOY is an urban refuge. A retreat in the heart of the city. It’s a 22-room establishment, totally dedicated to yoga and wellness. For example, there are dance barres for stretching, a space to practice and another to store your yoga mat. And all this with a zero-waste approach. But there is also a whole floor dedicated to the discipline of yoga, with over six hours of classes a day. It was very important for me to offer as many classes as there are different yoga methods to appeal to as many people as possible. At the same time, I wanted to make it possible to heal the body through yoga but also through sound and smell. So we also offer “sound healing” and “aromatherapy” workshops. As an extension of this idea of well-being, we also had the idea of offering to rent one of our rooms to an osteopath. He gives energetic massages and offers holistic gynaecology. HOY is a place where you can rest. Everything is in one place. And then of course, how can we forget Mesa, our 100% plant-based restaurant? The menu has been designed to be accessible and gourmet, but above all, good for the body.
Charlotte, why did you choose Sabrina and her team to develop the MESA concept?
The HOY project began a little over two years ago. I had a lot of difficulty in making myself understood and getting the initial teams (architects, consultants) to accept this slightly “new” idea of a hotel. The work was delayed by nine months because there was a real misunderstanding. So we brought the collaboration to an end. Totally by chance, I met Sabrina and Stéphane at Gisou’s, without actually realising they were doing consulting. I told them about the project and immediately latched onto their vision of the restoration: the customer experience at the centre of everything. They were also the first people in two years to believe 100% in HOY. Subsequently, they gave me a presentation, which corresponded exactly with how I imagined the project to be. It may even have been better!
What are the distinctive features of this kind of cooking, which you describe as “entirely plant-based”?
We took a gamble on a 100% plant-based, seasonal, gourmet cuisine. The challenge was to make Parisians forget that they were eating plants. Our creations are more responsible, healthier but still just as delicious! For example, we use carob rather than cocoa in our cookies. Not only is it renowned for its digestive qualities, but it is also something that comes from the Mediterranean, so it is closer to home. We also use hemp cream in some of our smoothies (it’s a natural anti-oxidant) and lion’s mane (which is considered the ‘mental health mushroom’) which prevents cognitive decline, aids memory, improves concentration and reduces anxiety. Now we have trained our cooks in Lauren Lovat’s vegetarian cuisine, we have been able to establish a proper fermentation unit in which some of our food is preserved. As for our suppliers, we work with Terroir d’évenir, Atoora, Jacquier and Nomie.
We wanted to create a menu where people don’t feel pressured to eat “just vegetables”. The idea was to create a minimally processed plant-based cuisine that is refined, healthy and gourmet without being cult-like. You don’t necessarily have to be vegan to come and eat at Mesa. We don’t use processed products or gluten, and everything we’ve done with Mesa is based on our desire to combine an accessible menu, gourmet cuisine and the nutritional aspect. To achieve this, we have focused on research as well as creative thinking to develop delicious, vibrant and nutritious plant-based dishes.
You’ve only been open a few weeks, have some of HOY’s dishes become firm favourites?
Yes indeed! First of all, there’s the lox carrot. This is the first dish we tasted with Sabrina when we went to London to meet Lauren. We were amazed by the gluten-free charcoal bread, cream that tasted like crème fraiche and smoked carrots that reminded us of the flavours of a smoked salmon. Then there were the purple corn pancakes. These are pancakes with banana, almond butter, vanilla yoghurt and a red fruit compote. I’ve often made this dish (from our brunch menu) at home or with my family. I never thought it would be so successful! Then we have tapioca and kale chips, Mexican nachos revisited but in a highly original way. We swapped oily tortilla chips for kale and tapioca chips. This dish is an explosion of flavours, and it reminds me a lot of my Mexican roots. Finally, there is molten ginger cake: a ginger pastry with dulce de leche caramel sauce and tapioca ice cream. Dulce de leche, more commonly known as “cajeta” in Mexico, is an ingredient we absolutely had to have!
HOY, ot's the type of hotel that you find in hot countries or near the sea but not in city centres. It is a place of retreat in the heart of the city.
Plants are given pride of place at HOY – on the plate, and you have a florist’s shop, La Florería – why?
Ever since I was a child, flowers have been a source of inspiration for me. They have a magical quality that connects us to nature, and as soon as we are close to nature, we automatically feel better.
How – and with whom – did you design the public areas and the bedrooms?
The inspiration for the decoration comes from the duality of my two cultures. My mother and I worked on the bedrooms together. Her take on hospitality was absolutely essential. We planned our rooms to be like a Parisian apartment. We wanted our guests to feel welcome, as if they were staying with a friend in the capital. Our colour palette, based on soft, watery green shades, is intended to be calm and relaxing. Sabrina took care of all the decoration of the restaurant and the lobby. The idea in this space was to draw inspiration from the architectural materials of Mexico: concrete, wood and terracotta. The majority of our decorative elements come from small-scale Mexican craftsmen, but there are also some favourite items chosen from far and wide.
For Stéphane and me, the concept of a restaurant starts with what we serve on the plate. We like honesty in food and in design. That is our creative process. Mesa was a challenge because the kitchen is not open to view, and with all its technical constraints, it was impossible to make it visible. So we decided to tell a story that rooted the dish in its location by creating a “home”. When we took on the project, we already had a design concept for Mesa inspired by South America: a rustic, neutral and earthy atmosphere that provides a feeling of peace and tranquillity. The plants that surround us give the impression of the patio of an old house, steeped in history, with materials that change, age and become more beautiful over time. We also wanted large tables, where you can sit with people you don’t necessarily know, and where you can get into conversation, but without being forced to do so.
Who can we find in your establishment?
Yoga enthusiasts, people passing through, young and old alike. HOY brings together all those who want to take a break and meet in a peaceful and friendly place, whether it’s for a yoga class, a professional lunch or a dinner with friends.
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily