Le Royal Monceau, Raffles, Paris

 

Junior Suite, Le Royal Monceau
A Junior Suite is styled to exude a 1940s/1950s feel—with a Philippe Starck twist.

 

 

First impressions count. And when we headed to Avenue Hoche in Paris’ 8th arrondissement for a sneak peek of Le Royal Monceau before its official opening date (October 18), we found a feast for the senses. In recent years, hotels have become laboratories of design and showcases for cutting-edge experiments by star designers. Nothing illustrates this more than the renovated Le Royal Monceau, destined to be one of the hottest hotel openings of the year.

Remember the celebrity-studded Demolition Party? To make way for a complete overhaul by French designer Philippe Starck, the palace hotel auctioned off all its antiques, Frette linens and minibars, then invited the cool crowd—dressed to the nines and wielding hammers—to smash everything in sight while international DJs spun the soundtrack. That was June 2008. Once the haunt of royalty, avant-garde artists, musicians and movie stars, Le Royal Monceau had lost its cool, and new owner Qatari Diar Hotel Investment wanted to return it to its former glory. After a top-to-bottom renovation lasting a year and a half, Le Royal Monceau is back—with Raffles at the reins.

The red lanterns accenting the stately facade hint at the bold interiors. We walked the red carpet beneath a sheer red awning, where a team of porters gracefully ushered us into the lobby. General Manager Sylvain Ercoli alluded to the hotel’s already present soul. The hotel is elegant through and through; the vibe is electric, served with a side of playfulness and a dash of eccentricity. Its beating heart is Le Grand Salon which doubles as the lobby, flanked by the dramatically illuminated bar. Meant to provoke conversations and fuel encounters, this “village within a village” overlooks the garden, where a small pond will illuminate the spa’s 85-foot swimming pool below.

Le Royal Monceau has an ambitious goal. In this world capital of culture, the luxury hotel strives to be a monument dedicated to art. Artists were commissioned to create works for the hotel: Joana Vasconcelos sculpted an oversized teapot to adorn the garden; Nikolas Polissky created wood caribou sculptures for the first-floor staircase landing; Stéphane Calais painted a swath of color on the ceiling of La Cuisine restaurant called The Paris Garden. There will be a contemporary art bookstore with screens broadcasting live feeds of international art auctions; an Art Concierge on staff (Domoina de Brantes) to arrange personalized art-themed itineraries to Paris galleries; and a Curator (Hervé Mikaeloff) who lines up a roster of artists to exhibit at Le Royal Monceau. Last but not least: the in-house movie theater called Le Cinema Des Lumières, built for both major film premieres and private screenings. The cinema has 100 sumptuous seats inspired by first-class airline seats, and high-performance sound and projection equipment in 35 mm, digital and 3D.

Starck describes his design concept for the guest rooms as comfortable, like stepping into a friend’s apartment (he is not one for sparse rooms; rather, the rooms offer a true lived-in feel).  

La Cuisine
La Cuisine has the atmosphere of a family dining room.

Modeled after the working studio of André Malraux—the great gentleman adventurer, author and France’s first Minister of Cultural Affairs during De Gaulle’s presidency—the tasteful rooms present a jumble of styles to make them feel lived-in. Guests will find a work desk with a map of Paris highlighting Starck’s favorite hangouts, a guitar in the corner, framed photos resting on the floor, found objects from the world-famous Parisian flea markets and custom-designed lamps made in Picasso’s former pottery studio in the south of France. Spacious dressing rooms are fashioned for haute couture with shadowless lighting and lots of mirrors.

Le Royal Monceau now has the largest number of suites in Paris and a staff of 420 to spoil its guests. Before the renovation, there were 240 guest rooms. That tally has now been pared to 85 rooms and 54 suites spanning 660 to 1,300 square feet. One of the largest is the Royal Monceau Suite (No. 500), which can connect to three other bedrooms. In fact, most rooms are connecting in the hotel, making it a good choice for families and entourages. For VIP bookings, contact Jean-Marie Le Gall (jean-marie.legall@raffles.com; 011-33-142-999-855), director of sales and marketing.

This is not just a hotel for art aficionados and culture buffs. Designed to be the last word in luxury, the hotel has signed an all-star team to delight even the pickiest gourmands. Master pâtissier Pierre Hermé—who has singlehandedly spawned a macaron craze around the globe—is behind the desserts. Guests will be able to indulge in Hermé’s signatures, and also discover sensational new sweets created just for the hotel, like made-to-order mille-feuilles prepared before guests’ eyes in the open kitchen at La Cuisine, the French restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Laurent André, who developed the Spoon restaurant concept with Alain Ducasse. The Italian restaurant, Il Carpaccio, will feature Hermé’s twists on classic tiramisu and panacotta. Get This: Even the movie theater treats will be made by Hermé (think popcorn flavored with salted butter caramel or ice-cream bars and marshmallows served in bento boxes).

The renovation project included the acquisition of next-door 41 avenue Hoche, which will house residential apartments, presidential suites and the Art District gallery. This will open at a later date, along with the spa and the hotel’s fashion and design boutique, managed by the trendy L’Eclaireur concept store.