Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Hôtel Plaza Athénée

France

Blends classical and contemporary styles and stars Alain Ducasse's iconic restaurant

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Hôtel Plaza Athénée
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Hôtel Plaza Athénée

Location

Avenue Montaigne, the heart of haute couture, in the 8th arrondissement

Travel Information

Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport - 35 mins
Gare du Nord (Eurostar) - 20 mins

Top Tips

During the winter months, the courtyard plays host to a private ice rink

5-Star X-Factors

Spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower from some of the sumptuous suites - especially the lavish Eiffel Suite!

MORE REVIEWS OF
THIS PROPERTY

Parisian dreamland
Paris behind the clichés

MORE REVIEWS OF
THIS PROPERTY

Parisian dreamland
Paris behind the clichés

Parisian dreamland

Most of us, as children, have drifted into a fantasy world and imagined owning an enormously grand home, lavishly-decorated with smiling staff attending to the drapes and spreads, and grand reception rooms filled with chandeliers and exotic guests.

Apart from adjusting this dream with a grown-up wish list – amazing bars, 3 Michelin stars and an 'esprit' vibe – this is that grand house. It is on arguably the best avenue, with the sparkling views to fall in love with, including everything that made your friends sick with envy. Jessica Parker chose it to romance her dream, and so should you.

Deluxe Junior Suite

We stayed in a junior suite, totally unique (like all the rooms), where the sleeping and sitting arrangements are all in one open-plan space, (of which there is plenty). The suite is glorious with two sets of French windows leading onto a terrace that overlooks the Avenue Montaigne. Looking left, this tree- lined wide couture avenue sweeps on as far as the eye can see, and, to the right, you marvel at the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine.

Stepping back into the room, the bed was oversized and draped in a Canovas-quilted spread, with crested cushions in 'Plaza rouge' nestled against a gold-striped headboard. The Louis XVI chaise was plump and glorious and the Louis XV escritoire was positioned appropriately next to a set of French windows. A bottle of Laurent Perrier together with ruby red velvet roses were placed on the low table along with Alain Ducassse chocolates, stacked par excellence, like a pack of edible dominos.

The 18th Century oil paintings depicted naïve rural scenes with chocolate coloured sheep and white faces. The lights were those coveted by serious candelabra collectors. It was gorgeous; Parisian yet cosy, antiqued to perfection with the modern touches of technology tucked in to make a concession to the 21st Century. Room service was faultless and a Pimms, puffed-up and fruited-out, was delivered in five minutes. It is interesting that, no matter where you are in France, a Pimms Français will always behead you.

Before we wandered down to explore the glories below, we took another look at the view and watched the sun setting behind Paris' most famous landmark. At midnight we stood out on the same balcony to inhale a Parisian sky; it was as though the Eiffel Tower was there just for us, its lights chasing like those on a Christmas tree. Paris was, for that moment, the most vibrant city in the world.

The Signature Eiffel Suite

The two Signature Eiffel Suites really are a staggering tour de force. Suites to impress the over-indulged with true suite excess, but incredibly stylish as well. There is no vulgarity at the Plaza Athénée. Oh no, it simply oozes chic with apparent nonchalance, but we know just how much skill and talent have really gone into this. 'Our' Signature Eiffel Suite was on the eighth floor with a roof terrace for private dining and commanding views that are, well, quite priceless. When you enter you are startled by the Eiffel Tower, so prominent is it behind the enormous wall of glass that, when it twinkles at night, the room sparkles like the glass of Dom Perignon you should surely be holding.

The floor is perfectly parquet with rugs woven specifically for the suite in duck-egg blue and beige. The overall style is Art Deco, but it's Plaza Athénée design, which is modern yet classical while offering something fresh. The bar area is sensational with ostrich skin bar stools in wonderful powder blue and Château Latour and Grey Goose vodka on the bar. Oh, you just want to move in. You can use the terrace to impress and entertain friends or simply share the experience à deux. In bed, you can lie back gazing at the twinkling tower or you can even do the same from your mosaic bath after a session in the marbled steam room. Yes, this is extravagant, not to say extraordinary, but life is but a few glorious moments...

L'Esprit a la Plaza

The buzz at the Plaza is effervescent and extremely alluring. Sitting and sipping along the Galerie des Gobelins, you either want to see or be seen. Walking through I noticed what must have been African royalty, Storm models, actors and, while waiting for my lift, two Chanel-clad dynastical ladies scrutinising important papers through half-moon diamante pince-nez. One raised her head and, in a moneyed southern drawl, said: "If Christopher dies first, then Russell gets the entire fortune." Priceless.

Still smiling from the exchange overheard below, we left the lift on the fourth floor. The windows to the central courtyard, La Cour Jardin, were open wide and the chorus of bird song was so loud that I actually wondered if it was a recording. Looking down onto this courtyard with its red umbrellas, perfect Plaza rouge geraniums, smooth awnings and Virginia creeper smothering the walls, you could have been anywhere; but what made it even more incredible was that you were in the middle of a Parisian Palace.

Visitors in winter months see La Cour Jardin transformed into an ice rink.

Delicious dining

Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée is really as good as it could ever get in contemporary French cuisine, even if it is only open Monday-Friday and fiendishly difficult to book a table. The splendour of the dining room, quite literally cascading with Swarovski crystals, is a sparkling feast for the eyes. The Art Deco bistro, Le Relais Plaza, is quintessentially Parisian with a let's-drink-deep-into-the-evening vibe while listening to the expert fingers of the pianist.

The Bar du Plaza Athénée has to be one of the coolest bars I have ever seen. It is a jetsetter's paradise: not only does the bar area change from cool blue to sultry red as the evening descends into morning, but there are large wooden alcoves with 'alcohol safes' so that you can store your carafe of Hennessy Paradis while you dine, or until the next visit. It is design inspired by tradition and innovation, a combination of the very best of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Staying here is simply excessively memorable, leaving you feeling that the very best of Paris is as good as it gets, anywhere.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant

Paris behind the clichés

If you think you know it all when it comes to Paris, then think again. Paris holds its secrets behind its popular clichés. Yes, the baguettes are under the arms, yes the men with obligatory moustaches smile at style as it breezes by in its flats or stilettos. But why, why so smug? Well, perhaps with good reason. Paris has some of the finest architecture in Europe, some of the finest hotels in any city and some of the finest boutiques in the world!

The five star Hotel Meurice could never disappoint. Its classical architecture is so perfectly situated overlooking the Tuileries Gardens and the steps to the Louvre. Style and elegance permeate every cubic centimetre of this hotel and after a long day in the Rues, the tranquil spa will rejuvenate and revive to perfection. If Paris immediately throws the Eiffel Tower to mind then stay at the Hotel Plaza Athénée, made famous in that Sex in the City trip to the French capital, perfectly positioned on Avenue Montaigne right by the river Seine, overlooking this extraordinary world trademark. Stay in total luxury, feast your eyes on the spectacular surroundings and feast your culinary desires in Alan Ducasse's finely-tuned, three Michelin-starred restaurant.

Once outside either of these two faultless grand luxe hotels, you will, of course, need to shop. Start at Colette (213 rue Saint-Honore, www.collette.fr) for its unparalleled magnetic eclecticism. You are drawn from one table to the next shelf around the next corner and all the time you are discovering potential purchases that increase the pulse at an alarming rate. It is referred to as 'the heart of cool', albeit situated in a somewhat conservative part of Paris.

Then a little petit four, peut-etre? Or a tarte tatin? Ladurée, on 75 Av. des Champs-Élysées, is, in archetypically Parisian style, where you indulge in just a little more than you should... then for something heaven scent, you visit the revamped Guerlain (68, Av. des Champs-Élysées) and purchase limited edition re-issues from the 30s and 50s in a boutique and spa tiled in gold mosaics. There is so much to do and see in this incredible city made from 20 'villages', each with its own style and all holding their own secrets. The autumn is a fabulous time to unravel the Paris behind the clichés.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer

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