Luxury Spotlight on Paris

 

The Suite Macassar Creme
The Suite Macassar Creme at Prince De Galles exudes an haute couture vibe.

 

Constant urban innovations keep visitors coming back to Paris for more. The quays along the Seine are being pedestrianized and a floating garden will open this spring just off the Pont de l’Alma. Historic hotels like the century-old Plaza Athenee are always updating, while sexy new ones add on to the scene (bonjour, Buddha Bar!)

Once a glam rendezvous for celebrities like Marlene Dietrich and Elvis Presley, the Hotel Prince de Galles was beginning to look shabby in recent years. What was done to bring it back to its former glory? The Luxury Collection hired Pierre-Yves Rochon—the design impresario responsible for the looks of The Savoy, Four Seasons London at Park Lane, and Shangri-La Paris—to give it a dramatic makeover. The transformation, after a two-year restoration, is stunning. Rochon brings back Art Deco in full force with custom furnishings that exude an haute couture vibe. (Think ebony wood furnishings, tiled mosaics, chandeliers covered in gold leaf, and Saint Laurent marble floors—all tailor-made for the hotel by some of the finest French artisans.)

 Eiffel Suite in Plaza Athenee
The terrace of the Eiffel Suite in Plaza Athenee is the perfect vantage point for killer views of the tower.

Located on avenue George V in the heart of the Golden Triangle, the hotel reopens on May 16 under the watchful eye of General Manager Simon Rusconi. Big things are expected of Chef Stephanie Le Quellec, who was tapped to run La Scene Café and Bar restaurant after winning the televised contest, Top Chef France, in 2011. Le Quellec has trained under some of France’s finest Michelin-starred chefs, and last helmed the restaurant at Provence’s Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort (no longer under the Four Seasons flag). Expect traditional cuisine from the South of France highlighting seasonal produce. Designer Bruno Borrione incorporated a show kitchen, and for guests wishing to glean some culinary secrets, there will also be a chef’s table.

VIP Style: The L’Appartement Parisien promises one of the most sumptuous hotel experiences in Paris. Sprawling across 1,776 square feet, this duplex penthouse comes with a wine cellar, living room, dining room, private service elevator, Carrara marble bathrooms with Bulgari amenities, and a furnished terrace with jaw-dropping views of Paris. Head Concierge Olivier Rouy ([email protected]) can provide in-the-know tips about Paris’ hidden treasures like artisans’ workshops, lesser-known museums and private gardens.

Also making headlines: The 100th anniversary of the Plaza Athenee, the Dorchester Collection’s stylish palace hotel adored by the A-list crowd. Surrounded by fashion’s heavy hitters on the Avenue Montaigne, the hotel is also a firm favorite for Fashion Week. Guests can expect a year-long extravaganza to fete the hotel’s big birthday: toast with Baccarat Crystal Cocktails; tuck into commemorative dishes at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant; watch the sold-out performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, simultaneously celebrating its centennial.

Buddha Bar’s Suite de Gagny
Buddha Bar’s Suite de Gagny boasts historic details such as wall moldings restored in gold leaf and Versailles parquet floors.

We have the scoop on a future hotel expansion project. Insiders tell us that the hotel has purchased some heritage-listed buildings which will be connected to the Plaza Athenee.

Come June, Buddha Bar will open its first Paris hotel, a hip hang-out for the young and fashionable. Expected to earn a five-star rating from Atout France, Buddha Bar Hotel has a dream team assembled under General Manager Loic Le Berre; clefs d’or Concierge Benoit Barrault was also recruited from the five-star Hotel Castille.

On a calm street off the fashionable Rue du Faubourg Saint Honore, the hotel is housed in an 18th-century mansion that once belonged to Augustin Blondel de Gagny, a prominent arts collector and the events planner for King Louis XVI. Done up in a contemporary Asian style with a dragon motif, the 35 rooms and 21 suites are spacious and come with added perks like Nespresso machines, complimentary minibar, free Wi-Fi, and the famous Buddha Bar music library. 

ADVISOR INSIGHT:

Paris native Colombe McCarthy, director of the European Division at Destinations & Adventures International in Beverly Hills, spends much of the year in France scouting out new finds. “I recently checked out Le Burgundy which is lovely. Insider’s Scoop: A couple of rooms have private terraces without any supplemental cost, and if they are requested and available at the time of booking, then it’s possible to have them assigned.

At this year’s Rendez-vous en France trade show, I was impressed with De Vinis Illustribus, a fantastic Paris wine shop that sells rare, old, and millesimes wines, and also ships to the U.S. Since they purchase private cellars, the company offers wines that are no longer available commercially. Tastings can be arranged on request—which can be themed by birth year, vintage, etc.—and lunch for two people can be arranged with four or five tastings presented by the owner.”

 

Luxury Travel Advisor got a behind-the-scenes look while the historic-listed building was still under renovation, and we fell in love with the Suite de Gagny. Comprising room Nos. 202 and 203 on the second floor, the space is chock full of historic details: ceiling frescoes, marble fireplaces, wall moldings restored in gold leaf, enormous Louis XV mirrors, and Versailles parquet floors. Like a private apartment, the suite has a sumptuous reception room and an immense bathroom with a standalone tub. A balcony overlooks Faubourg Saint-Honore, while the neo-Asian décor includes fine lacquered furniture, suspended Chinese lanterns, and a collection of objets d’art. For VIP bookings, contact Director of Sales & Marketing Cecile Ainciburu ([email protected], +011-3301-55-35-36-82).

The restaurant Le Vrai Monde makes use of its setting inside the former stables with a configuration of private lounges tricked out with infinity mirrors. Now orchestrating the kitchen, Chef Rougui Dia used to hold the prestigious post at the helm of the Petrossian caviar house’s restaurant. Le Qu4tre lounge-bar serves up after-hours enticements. Cocktails will be themed after the four elements and a DJ will spin a sexy soundtrack. There is also a small wellness center where guests can work out, indulge in b/attitude spa treatments (in two treatment rooms), or relax in the hammam.

Also on our radar is the new the Hotel de Nell in the 9th arrondissement. Designed by prominent French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the 33-room hotel houses an outpost of La Regalade, the popular Parisian bistro that dishes up fine cuisine at affordable prices (the three-course menu goes for €35).

Sweet and Savory

Move over, macarons. The city’s latest “it” pastry is the eclair, taking Paris by storm with new specialist boutiques like L’Atelier de L’eclair and L’Eclair de Geniechurning out gourmet creations with flair. Sebastien Gaudard, a patissier who is on a one-man mission to bring back the traditional pastry recipes of yesteryear, also makes a mean eclair. Our personal favorite can be found at La Patisserie des Reves near Le Bon Marche. There’s more: Alain Ducasse has opened his first chocolate shop near the Bastille. Manufacture transforms raw cocoa beans into divine treats.

Nightlife gurus behind L’Experimental Cocktail Club will add a new venue to their empire this spring. Located on Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, Fish Club will pair expertly mixed drinks with—you guessed it—an array of seafood and a raw bar.

Enrico Bernardo, voted “the world’s best sommelier” in 2004 while working at the Four Seasons George V, has opened another eatery which Paris’ most exacting critics have hailed “the season’s best new restaurant.” Near the Place Vendome, Goust offers a tasting menu with wine and food pairings for €75, while lunch is a steal at €35. And come September, Michelin-starred Chef Eric Frechon, of Le Bristol fame, opens a restaurant in the Gare St Lazare.

Culturally Speaking

The Picasso Museum in the Marais district will show off the fruits of a year-long restoration project at the end of 2013 (the date had been set for this summer). The historic Luxor Theatre has reopened in the Barbes district after a three-year renovation of its whimsical Egyptian décor.

Louis Vuitton has a new pop-up store devoted to fine stationary at 6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Pres, open until the beginning of 2014.

Le Bon Marche has unveiled a magnificent new wine cellar called La Cave beneath the gourmet food store, La Grande Epicerie. A wine lover’s dream, it offers a carefully curated selection: some 2,000 wine references and 1,000 different champagnes and spirits.