IT’S been a while since I’ve shared a room with six complete strangers so perhaps I can be forgiven for making the ultimate dormitory faux pas: forgetting my nightie. Although if anything can break the ice when meeting your room-mates for the first time, it’s being caught in the altogether on the way to the lav.
After launching in the trendy south-western surf town of Hossegor in 2017, Accor’s hip new budget brand, Jo&Joe, has moved into a new address in Gentilly, a southern suburb of Paris. Not quite a hostel and not quite a hotel, this well-fly 485-bed pad describes itself as an ‘open house’ and it makes for a pretty cool stopover in the French capital.
From the bar on the ground floor to the roof terrace and ‘happy house’ kitchen on the top, Jo&Joe’s rather ‘street’ decor is the work of London design studio Penson, which brought in nine street artists from around the world and let them loose to create a funky, clubby vibe.
There are various types of room. I’m staying in a ‘together’ room, aka a shared dorm, but unlike the ropey bunkhouses I’ve been in before, this one is spacious and quiet with cool modular bunk beds designed for privacy (think high sides in the top bunk and pull-down screens for the lower). All have metre-wide mattresses, USB ports, sockets and lights, and even the shared bathrooms are generous and modern. My dorm has a private terrace too.
There are also standard double rooms, equally basic but comfortable, and ‘apartments’ that sleep four or six. But the real game-changer is the ‘cabin’. A hybrid of a bunk and private room, this compact and bijou hidey-hole offers more privacy than your standard dorm for only a few euros more.
Breakfast is not included but for a piffling £5.40 you can carb-load on warm fresh baguettes, croissants, ham and cheese, plus endless good coffee and juices in the bar.
With a cashless payment system, self-service beer wall, yoga and open-mic nights, you’d be right in thinking Jo&Joe is largely aimed at the millennial crowd. Its fun, inclusive vibe means even a single, 30-plus (!) traveller like me wasn’t made to feel an oddity at the bar each night. There’s a decent and reasonably priced cocktail list (from £4.50) and the food is very good — think posh hot dogs from Monsieur Saucisse (from £6), charcuterie and cheeseboards (£10), and oven-baked Camembert (£7).
The local vibe
Even though Gentilly is the Parisian version of Zone 4, don’t think you have to miss out on the sights. It’s a two-minute walk to the RER station and you could be sashaying down the Champs-Élysées in only 20 minutes. My advice is to step into Vincent van Gogh world at Atelier des Lumières (£13, atelier-lumieres.com nearest; métro Rue Saint-Maur), an immersive digital art exhibition in an old foundry, or tour Paris from a motorbike and sidecar (from £79, retro-tour.com).