Babel, “Inspired By The Ends of <br>The Earth and The Next Street Down”

Babel, “Inspired By The Ends of
The Earth and The Next Street Down”

When asked to define his most personal project in one word, Joris Bruneel, a hotelier, says, “Senses”. “Babel is a journey for the senses. But it is also a place to enjoy life, a place with meaning, people-focussed and oriented towards the world of tomorrow!” ». This establishment, opened with the chef Clarie Feral-Akram, is more than just another new destination; it’s a declaration of love for Belleville. For its values, its diversity, its commitment. Which is the epitome of what the duo has managed to infuse into this lively “part hotel, part restaurant and part cocktail bar” with a visual identity designed by Daphné Desjeux that evokes thoughts of faraway places. The trio can’t stop talking about this adventure in ‘group organisation’. It’s almost an obsession. They explained to us how important it was for Babel to be part of the community, but above all, how it had to be an active player in the neighbourhood. By collaborating with local associations, by putting its inhabitants first, and by promoting its producers. In fact, in order to “travel through the plate and through the decoration” without losing sight of the surroundings of 3 rue Lemon, every detail has been meticulously thought out. And it leaves no room for comparison with anywhere else! As the interior designer confirms, “With Babel, we are dealing with a format that doesn’t take any notice of trends or other developments. It’s a hotel with a heart and a passion, and its passion is centred on people in all their diversity, their uniqueness and their freedom. And to better reflect this spirit – which you will also find in the kitchen thanks to the many individuals who make up the team there – Atelier Daphné Desjeux has brought together inspirations from the four corners of the earth. Materials, colours, finishes, hangings: everything has been meticulously selected to pay tribute to the different cultures and communities present in this part of the 20th arrondissement. A melting pot that can, naturally, also be found on the plate, influenced by the Silk Road and its myriad spices, and that showcases Iranian, Syrian, Turkish and Indian specialities. A change of scenery, yes, but actually, not really. After all, everything was already there. Right under our noses. Because Babel is “inspired by the ends of the earth and the next street down”

Babel, 3 rue Lemon – 75020 Paris. Hotel, 31 rooms from €120. Reservation on Restaurant, open every day except Monday. Opening hours: from 12:00 to 14:30 (15:00 at weekends) and from 19:00 to 22:30 (23:00 at weekends). Sunday brunch. Cocktail bar open every evening (except Monday).

Extérieur de l'hôtel Babel à Paris
Terrasse avec chaise de bistrot à
Les fondateurs de l'Hôtel Babel à Paris
Meuble et plantes à Babel Hôtel à Paris
Salle de service chez Babel Hôtel à Paris

Joris, Clarie, Daphné: could you introduce yourselves, please?


With pleasure! I am 42 years old, married and have two little girls aged 6 and 8. As the son of hoteliers based in the South of France, I swore to myself that I would never do this job… The result is that I am now the president of the MyHotels group, which I created in 2013, at the head of 18 establishments, including five in Paris. Hotel Babel is my latest project, much more personal, intimate and located in a neighbourhood that is very close to my heart: Belleville.


My name is Clarie; I am a French-Afghan chef. After studying at the Ferrandi school, I opened a restaurant in Kabul where I met Joris’ wife, who is a war reporter. Travel is what brought us together and connected us! When I returned to France, I opened my own restaurant in Normandy on the beach near Deauville, the “Key West”, as well as a delicatessen/shop selling 100% Norman products in Trouville “Les Toqués du terroir”.


I’m Daphne, founder of Atelier Daphné Desjeux. Having co-designed a dozen hotels, including La Planque, Le Tribe and Le Bob, I’ve just completed my work for the hotel – restaurant Babel. Here, I would define myself more as a creator of places, places that inspire travel, a mood, a desire.

What are your respective roles at Hotel Babel?


I’ve had “Babel” in the back of my mind for several years, dreaming of opening a place that reflects my values and my definition of hospitality. So I wrote the story of Babel, defined the contours of the concept. Daphné has brought it to life aesthetically, and Clarie brings it to life by taking us on a culinary journey… Because Babel is a great adventure in group organisation!


I’m Joris’ partner in the Babel project. I was in charge of the whole catering part, i.e. the design of the menu, the choice of the recipes, the recruitment of the chefs and teams, the sourcing of the suppliers, right down to the choice of the plates!


I’m responsible for everything here that is visible! (Laughter)

Why did you decide to collaborate on this project?


We had already worked together with Daphne on one of my Parisian hotels. I like all his inspirations, his attention to detail, which makes all the difference, his overall coherence and aesthetic of the project. We have established a relationship of trust and mutual understanding in support of this powerful concept that is Babel. Clarie is a friend and a talented chef. She naturally embodies all of Babel’s values: open-mindedness, diversity, generosity, simplicity, sharing…and apart from her, I don’t know anyone who has run a restaurant in Kabul.


Values like solidarity, environmental responsibility and a desire to share our vision of the restaurant industry!


First of all, I really like Joris. I’ve worked with him before. He presented his project to me, and it went far beyond the decor. Babel is a 360-degree vision with a great deal of coherence around travel – the journey – and the human being. It’s a unique project, and it appealed to me. And I really admire Clarie’s work in the kitchen; she is so inspired and inspirational. A culinary journey that is well worth the detour!

Plafond avec suspension chez
Chambre à coucher terracotta chez
Salle de bain avec miroir chez Babel Hôtel à Paris
Daphné Desjeux chez Babel Hôtel à Paris

With Babel, we are operating a format that looks neither at trends nor at other developments. It’s a hotel with a heart, and its passion is centred on people in their diversity, their uniqueness and their freedom.

Plante et banquette en velours chez Babel Hôtel à Paris
Salle de réception chez

Can you introduce us to the establishment?


Babel is a haven, a hotel (31 rooms), a restaurant (80 seats + 30 on the terrace) and a cocktail bar. It is located in the heart of Belleville, an authentic, multicultural and active neighbourhood. We dreamed of a place that would reflect both our values and those of an entire neighbourhood; a house for everyone, a sanctuary that would make sense and give us the strength to still believe in living together. Our philosophy? Travelling through the plate and through the decoration. I really like this sentence which sums up Babel perfectly: “inspired by the ends of the world and the next street down”. We use products with a short supply chain and have partnerships with local organisations, with the aim of participating in the ecological transition. At the same time, it creates a link with the neighbourhood and its inhabitants. Babel is a state of mind, a meaningful place. For example, we have one room we “withhold”, which is available all year round for neighbourhood associations to provide temporary accommodation in emergency situations. The main thing is that Babel is a place where you feel good and where you go to enjoy yourself!


Joris has almost said it all! At Babel, and in the kitchens, we work exclusively with seasonal products, with short supply chains and in collaboration with numerous organisations.


With Babel, we are operating a hotel format that looks neither at trends nor at other developments. It’s a hotel with a heart, and its passion is centred on people in their diversity, their uniqueness and their freedom. I tried to reflect this in the decoration, with many influences from all over the world.

How does it fit in with the Belleville district, where it is located?


For me, this has become almost an obsession: Babel must be part of its neighbourhood, a reflection of it and a player in it! We have established real partnerships with several neighbourhood organisations, including Chef Thierry Marx’s school, “Cuisine Mode d’Emploi”, as well as the “Refugee Food Festival”, which is where our chef Haitham Karajay comes from. These two institutions enable people who are being reintegrated into society or who are seeking asylum to train in the kitchen industry. Babel also works with local associations and the Town Hall in the 20th arrondissement, which promotes quality of life in the neighbourhood, the fight against isolation and the participation of residents in local life. Finally, Babel offers a stage and turns a special spotlight onto the neighbourhood’s producers, artists and hidden treasures. The coffee comes from Brûlerie de Jourdain, the beers are brewed in Paris at Fauve or a stone’s throw away at Bières de Belleville, the teas and infusions are from Kodama, the spirits come from Distillerie de Paris, the bread and pastries from Sain, and the fruit is carefully chosen from the Zingam grocery shop, just opposite. We targeted the residents in the neighbourhood as a priority for recruitment. Babel also wants to promote local artists, for example, by collaborating with the Galerie des Temps Donnés, the artists 13bis and Juliette Seban, who have each produced a work. Come and take the lift or go to the restaurant’s toilet, and you’ll see, it’s a journey in itself! Hotel guests and the inquisitive also have access to a guide to the Belleville district that was put together by the on-site team. It’s full of tips and good places to go, and suggests purely Bellevillian experiences like the street-art discovery trail or a visit to artists’ studios…


As Joris said, we have tried as much as possible to get closer to local people, whether for the products, via the recruitment of our staff – our chef Sofiane was brought up in Belleville! – or through encouraging the artists and art galleries that have contributed to this project.

How did this location influence his philosophy of “Travelling in the dishes and through the decoration”?


I live five minutes from the hotel! I’ve been in the neighbourhood for nearly ten years. I feel good here; it’s authentic, lively; you meet the whole world here. It is an open, and meaningful environment. I absolutely wanted to be there because Babel could not be anywhere else but in Belleville. I wanted us to travel there as we travel in Belleville!


The Belleville district is a real melting pot! Asian and Middle Eastern grocery shops rub shoulders with Tunisian cafés and Thai restaurants, as do natural wine cellars and traditional bistros. All these influences needed to be brought together coherently and in one place to create a link in this “organised bazaar” that is Belleville. For the menu, the Silk Road quickly became an obvious choice.


The idea was to create a place with an “open arms to embrace the world” image, to try to acknowledge different cultures and communities. All this through the materials, the colours, the hangings chosen.

Nos coussins Bomboloni chez
Plat chez
Salle de réception chez
Espace restaurant chez Babel Hôtel à Paris
Banquette chez Babel Hôtel à Paris
Plat chez Babel Hôtel
  • What sort of craftspeople did you surround yourself with to bring all this to life?

The most talented craftspeople! I am thinking in particular of Rosatelier, founded by Justine Rossetti and Simon Carloni, who did all the patinas in the rooms and on the ground floor, but also of Lafibule, who made all the benches on the ground floor, and Mmono Lighting for the wall lights in the corridors. It’s a project with almost 120 suppliers!

  • Daphne, what were your inspirations for bringing this décor to life, suggesting diversity, interaction and an invitation to travel?

I didn’t want us to know what time of day or night it was! To do this, I tried to erase everything that is “functional” for a hotel. To let the charm work, I turned off all the colours. For the bedrooms: the high headboards in cream-coloured fabric, with their tricoloured piping and topped with two large reading lights in natural fibres, have been designed to evoke the work of true craftspeople. The fabric is reminiscent of a big Berber blanket where you can feel the work of the maker’s hand. The walls have been patinated in three different shades by Rosatelier: ochre, blue-green and terracotta with visible nuances depending on the location, the light and the time of day. As if the sun had faded their pigments. The basin is inspired by the Orient Express, with curves of course, just in case the speed risks splashing you. The woodwork on the toilet door was inspired by a church door found in the Cyclades in Greece. For the carpet, I wanted an irregular, handmade North African rug. Finally, a small collection of antique objects from India is scattered across the walls, like flea market finds from the ends of the earth.

  • How did you manage to pull the wool over our eyes by giving the impression that this place has a history when it has only just opened its doors?

I looked for imperfection everywhere! One example is the light fittings: wall lights designed for the hotel, made of very imperfect terracotta with slightly irregular fins that give off a soft light. I also created the mirrors, the full-length ones and the one over the basin, with this distressed, spotted effect, which gives the feeling that they have been weathered by time. And on the ground floor, in the restaurant and the lobby, I salvaged old terracotta tiles for the floor and added beams to the ceiling. That’s the secret of everything that makes up Babel!

  • There are a number of accessories – including cushions – from The Socialite Family collection. What was it about them that appealed to you?

I’m a loyal reader and early fan of The Socialite Family! The furniture and the latest collections are very inspiring, very much in tune with the times – my times and the times of this project. So the cushions were perfect for the setting I had in mind!

  • Clarie, who will we find in the kitchens at Babel?

Currently – and for 8 months – a Syrian resident chef, Haitham Karajay, who has participated in the Refugee Food Festival for the past three years, is in behind the stove. In the kitchen, our chef de partie is Turkish, another of our assistants is Afghan – sent by the “Cuistots migrateurs” – another is a young girl in rehabilitation trained by “Cuisine mode d’emploi” (Thierry Marx’s cooking school, located in the 20th arrondissement) and our Bellevillois chef, Sofiane, is of Algerian origin. We are already thinking about the next chief resident, perhaps Turkish or Georgian.

  • And what sort of culinary influences?

We have chosen the Silk Road! In other words, a mixture of spices, Indian, Iranian, Turkish and Syrian influences. We didn’t want to create yet another Levantine restaurant, but rather to introduce our customers to new dishes like the famous tadhig rice, which can be found in Iran and Afghanistan.

  • If you had to describe Babel in one word, what would it be?

One word is hard, of course. But I would say senses! Babel is a journey for all the senses, and it is also a meaningful place to be, with a focus on people and the world of tomorrow!

Chambre à coucher chez Babel Hôtel à Paris
Chambre à coucher avec tête de lit et appliques chez Babel Hôtel

The idea was to create a place with an "open arms to embrace the world" image, to try to acknowledge different cultures. All this through the materials, the colours, the hangings chosen.

Bibliothèque chez Babel Hôtel à Paris
Salle de bain avec miroir chez Babel Hôtel à Paris
Banquette grise chez Babel Hôtel à Paris

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