Hotel Spotlight: We Visited A Once-In-a-Lifetime Hotel In Paris, Here's How It went
On a visit to France last fall, I had an extra night and saw the opportunity to visit a special hotel. I researched for weeks, with my heart set on my bucket list hotel Hotel Plaza Athénée all along. I had all my fingers crossed it could be the one. At first I wasn't sure it would work out in my favor, as it is the stuff of dreams and my stay would fall right in the middle of Paris Fashion Week, so I wasn't sure they would be able to accommodate. But to my surprise, they were excited to welcome me and I was in for the experience of a lifetime!
Located in the epicenter of the fashion district on Avenue Montaigne, it comes as no surprise that Hotel Plaza Athénée is the most stylish hotel in the world. It was opened in 1913, and with each decade since adding a new layer to the already intricate design, Hotel Plaza Athénée's grandeur is too majestic to grasp in just one visit.
The majority of the hotel is designed in the classically French style (except for the seventh and eighth floors which are Art Deco-inspired), and from beginning it was frequented by famous composers, artists, and stars. The famous facade covered in red awnings and window boxes overflowing with red geraniums over every window is known around the world, as is La Cour Jardin, the ivy-covered courtyard. Named “Best Hotel in The World”, Hotel Plaza Athénée is a popular stop for savvy tourists and glamorous Parisians, and we can totally see why.
If you’re a fashion lover, you’ll appreciate that in 1947 Christian Dior established La Maison Dior (his first couture house) across from the hotel, betting that it would attract the elite guests - and he was right. Dior’s story is heavily influenced by the Plaza Athénée and vice versa. The hotel hosts Paris Fashion Week and receives the likes of Kim Kardashian and other celebrities during the shows.
The property has been through a couple of renovations, the last two being in 1998, when Alain Ducasse was chosen to head the hotels culinary services, as well as the main restaurant under his own name, now the Michellin-starred restaurant ranked 13th in the world. The latest renovation cost over 200 million and was finished in 2014, with the addition of six new guest rooms, eight suites, and a ballroom.
In 2001 the firm Jouin Manku was hired to redesign Alain Ducasse and Le Bar. The firm was given total freedom to revamp the spaces, and with that they set out to create a place unlike any other. The goal was to evoke a sense of wonder and airiness, with futuristic vibes and a sense of surprise. Ducasse’s existing heavy French decor was taken down to the studs - the original grand chandeliers stayed, now with a cloud of of crystal pendants hanging by fine wire creating the illusion of rain and dance. From the outside looking in through gigantic glass doors, the overall look is bright and intriguing: the mysterious shiny pods made of stainless steel imitate hot plate covers - which took thousands of man hours to complete - and hide seating nooks, as oak tables are left bare as opposed to being covered by traditional white linens.
Optic effects continue with the soothing winter-forest color palette. Whites, creams and pale grays are contrasted by details in sterling silver, metals, and crystals. The illusion is that of a floaty room in space, with no discernible separation between floors, walls and ceiling - slightly disorienting, but in the best sense. The space is modern, but somehow fits with the rest of the traditionally designed hotel rooms and common areas.
The hotel’s spa, Institut Dior, is the first Dior Spa in the world. It is decorated in minimal elegance, wrapped in creamy walls, flowy ivory drapes, and soft, glowy lighting. Private treatment rooms are serene and minimal, designed in all aesthetically pleasing creams to calm the senses, and featuring sparkling ceilings which look like stars. The high end spa is famous for its exclusive Dior treatments and incredible reputation - I am already planning my return for a transformative facial.
Now part of the Dorchester Collection - among others like the famed Beverly Hills Hotel and London's iconic The Dorchester - Hotel Plaza Athénée has been featured in films like The Devil Wears Prada, and who doesn’t remember when Carrie Bradshaw went to Paris with her Russian in Sex And The City?
Rooms range from the low thousands all the way up to tens of thousands per night. Guests' favorites are obviously suites that command a view of the Eiffel Tower—these are undeniably the crème de la crème and some go for upwards of $15,000 a night. I was lucky enough to get to stay in one of them - for research purposes, of course - and have my very own Carrie Bradshaw moment. When I was escorted to my room I was expecting to walk into a beautiful room of course, but was instead met with the most breathtaking corner suite with wrap-around porch, which you guessed it - faced her, the ever beautiful Eiffel Tower.
The service is truly unparalleled from start to finish. From check-in, to chilled champagne and gourmet cake from Ducasse in my suite, to the fresh fruit (which is replenished daily), bespoke toiletries and fresh orchids in every room, to the lovely concierge who booked my transport to the airport and calculated my timing, fare, and even double checked on my flight and terminal. I've been to many hotels, but special attention to personal details are really one of the things that set some hotels apart from others.
The suites have a living room, bedroom, dressing room, and a marbled bathroom. In the living room, elaborate wall molding covers French gray walls and envelop velvet sofas saddled by Louis XVI chairs. Subtle hues of light pinks, cremes and grays are contrasted by bolder burgundy, purples and gold and silver leaf accents. A purple chandelier sets an old glamour mood, as thick curtains close to create complete intimacy from the busy world outside. An antique writer’s desk sits in a corner, offering access to all the modern amenities one can wish for. A step further will take you to the wrap-around balcony, over which you can peek at passersby and hear the delightful Paris street noises. In the evening, I could open all the drapes and watch as the grand dame of Paris lit up in all her glory - from my sofa, in my robe, champagne in hand. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
It’s hard to believe some are lucky enough to visit this magical place on a daily basis, as it truly is a work of art and the setting for a fairytale.
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