French Grandeur: Top Suites in Paris

There’s nothing like bed hopping in Paris. In the French capital, you can sleep where Coco Chanel lived (the Ritz), shack up in a suite designed by Karl Lagerfeld (the Crillon), channel your inner Napoleon (La Réserve), or — struck with French World Cup fever? — follow in the footsteps of soccer stars David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane (Le Bristol). The city’s grand palace hotels serve as the stomping grounds for the beau monde, offering haute couture-style retreats and a sumptuous sense of place. And there are always new contenders: we’re looking at you, Lutetia. Here we step inside an exclusive world of Parisian grandeur on a tour of top suites. 

When La Réserve opened in 2015, it was a game-changer on the Paris luxury hotel scene. With only 40 rooms (most of them suites), the hotel is intimate in size, a 19th-century hôtel particulier (aristocrat’s mansion) done up decadently by designer Jacques Garcia. High ceilings gilded in gold, precious antiques, Rubelli silk wallpaper… Bref, a seductive hide-out just off the Champs-Elysées, with restaurants appreciated by Le Tout Paris. And because it has the feel of a private home, you won’t see paparazzi outside stalking celebrity guests. (Forty percent of the clientele is American.)

The Imperial Suite’s bathroom at La Réserve Paris has a tub with views of the Eiffel Tower, an Italian-style shower as well as twin vanity. 

Of the 26 suites, the crème de la crème is the Imperial Suite — a reflection, true to its name, of Emperor Napoleon. The Empire-style décor includes period furniture, red silk ceilings and gold leaf-paneled walls. Insiders tell us that due to popular request, the hotel is putting together a book illustrating the collection of hand-picked antiques and objets d’art. During a recent refurbishment of the Imperial Suite, all the original artisans returned to touch up their oeuvres (like the custom rugs and fabrics). 

A highlight here is the view from the fifth floor: A vast panorama of the Paris skyline and its famous landmarks — the Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais, Notre Dame cathedral and the gold dome of Invalides (Napoleon’s tomb). The suite has a number of windows to take it all in, plus a small furnished balcony where you can eat in front of the city’s splendor.  

What we love: The large in-room bars at La Réserve are stocked with drinks and gourmet snacks — all complimentary (except the Grand Cru wines). Why not ask the hotel’s mixologist to mix up some drinks in your room? Another highlight is the Carrara marble bathroom with a tub perfectly positioned for gazing at the Eiffel Tower. Tip: The personal butler can draw your bath.

La Réserve sweats the details: There’s a silver ring tray fashioned as an elephant, the hotel group’s symbol, while the walk-in closet has Technogym weights. Bathrooms come with Japanese Toto toilets. The windows were designed with the same insulation as the airport, so the suite is cocooned from the noise of Paris traffic. What’s more, the gardens in front of the hotel offer a green barrier of verdure in front of the famous avenue.

Booking Tip: For families traveling together, we suggest the Imperial Suite, which encompasses 1,270 square feet of space, and can be connected to a Premier Junior Suite, measuring 560 square feet. For VIP bookings, luxury travel advisors may contact Nathaniel Most ([email protected]; 011-33-158-366-023), regional director of sales & marketing. Jean-Luc Naret was appointed CEO in 2017; prior to that he served as general manager of One&Only Reethi Rah, and general director of the Michelin Guides worldwide.

The Four Seasons Hotel George V’s 1,630-square-foot Penthouse affords 360-degree views of Paris. // Photography: Guillaume de Laubier

Across the Champs-Élysées, the revolving doors at the Four Seasons Hotel George V usher in a stream of visitors who want to gawk at the lobby flower arrangements by artistic director Jeff Leatham. On a recent visit, we watched an employee, high on a ladder, painstakingly hanging orchids above the courtyard terrace that’s home to five Michelin stars (each of the hotel’s three restaurants is recognized by the red gourmet bible). 

This palace hotel recently unveiled a new spa with seven treatment rooms. If you remember the hotel’s old spa, a small bijou inspired by Marie Antoinette’s boudoir, the new one is nothing short of astonishing. It required 18 months of construction, excavating deep underground to create a 17-meter swimming pool. Chapeau to designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who blended both contemporary and classic elements — bold modern artwork hanging above marble floor mosaics inspired by the ancient world. The lockers even have smartphone chargers. 

Four Seasons teamed up with cult brands Swiss Perfection, Dr. Burgener and Alaena to design the treatment menu. Popular signature treatments include the George V Escape by Dr Burgener, utilizing Champagne and green caviar; the Parisian Experience, an energizing deep-tissue massage; and Kobido, an exclusive facial that’s an ancestral tradition of the Imperial Court of Japan dating back to 1472. For assistance with bookings, reach out to Nathalie Delclos ([email protected]), spa manager. Tip: Bring a bathing suit and allow time before or after your treatment to relax in the heated vitality pool and luxury hammam. The fitness center, decorated with a wall-size screen projecting a film of the “four seasons,” has highly requested personal trainers.

Top Digs: Of the 244 guestrooms, the Penthouse is the star attraction because of its three terraces. Though smaller in size than other top suites (1,630 square feet), it boasts 360-degree views of Paris from a unique perch, high above the rooftops. We also love the Royal Suites (2,630 square feet) and the Presidential Suites (2,153 square feet). For example, Room No. 101 (Presidential) resembles a private apartment with a large living room for entertaining, a kitchen, and spacious dressing room with a mirrored vanity table. There’s also a landscaped outside terrace (a high wall of greenery provides privacy from Avenue George V). 

What we love: Swathed in marble and Baccarat crystal, the bathroom comes with a large soaking tub, a hammam, Toto toilet, and Sodashi and Bulgari bath products. The bar can be stocked as you wish, and amenities include a tiered tower of treats, Champagne, fresh flower arrangements, and bowls of apples with their skins intricately carved with personal messages. 

Starting in June 2018, Jean Claude Wietzel, a Four Seasons veteran, took over as regional vice president and general manager. For VIP requests, reach out to Hector Vericel ([email protected]), director of sales.

Hotel Plaza Athénée’s Royal Suite comes with four bedrooms and four bathrooms and is adorned with antique furnishings. // Photography: Francis Amiand 

Also situated in the so-called Golden Triangle, famous for luxury shopping, the Hotel Plaza Athénée is a favorite of the fashion set. There’s a long-time Christian Dior link; the designer first opened his shop across the street on the Avenue Montaigne, and showed his inaugural collection at the hotel. The hotel’s spa, the Dior Institut, celebrated its 10th anniversary in September with the launch of a new treatment called Quintessence 10.

The best room in the house is the Royal Suite on the fifth floor. Running the width of the hotel, this four-bedroom, four-bathroom suite is the largest in Paris, measuring 4,850 square feet. This is where Liz Taylor lived for six months in 1971, and it’s also served as a Paris pad for Bono, lead singer of U2 (fittingly, guests of the suite receive a U2 CD). There’s a private security entrance, dining room for eight people, nine flat-screen TVs camouflaged behind mirrors, two drawing rooms and a separate kitchen — not to mention special services like unpacking / packing and complimentary airport transfers.

What we love: The suite’s balconies, decorated with red geraniums, overlook the Avenue Montaigne and the Eiffel Tower. Fun fact about the hotel’s signature façade: When actress Marlène Dietrich lived in a second-floor Prestige Suite (No. 209/210), her lover Jean Gabin wanted to put roses in the windows. Since this wasn’t possible, red geraniums were substituted — an enduring hotel symbol to this day. 

Another highly requested suite is the Haute Couture suite on the third floor (No. 361), sumptuously decorated with the Dior colors of pink and gray. This is where Dior Men’s Perfume shot the ad with Jude Law (2010) and Natalie Portman (2009). For VIP bookings, reach out to Beatrice David ([email protected]), area director of sales & marketing.  

Hotel Lutetia’s Bar Joséphine is appreciated for its home-made cocktails. 

Hot Restaurant Openings

Star chef Alain Ducasse has launched a gourmet river cruise called Ducasse sur Seine. Available for both lunch and dinner cruises, the custom boat is 100 percent electric powered — meaning a quiet experience as you glide by the city monuments eating a multi-course meal (wine pairings also available).

After a four-year renovation by renowned architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the Hotel Lutetia made a splash when it reopened this summer. The bar, named in honor of Josephine Baker who used to sing at the hotel, is already abuzz with St. Germain locals. Upon our visit in September, construction was still ongoing on two floors of guestrooms, and the brasserie, which will be overseen by three-Michelin-starred chef Gérald Passédat, is expected to open later this autumn. Passédat is an icon in the south of France (Le Petit Nice, etc), and this will be his first venture in the capital.

Another talked-about gourmet spot is Beaupassage, a new foodie destination in the 7th arrondissement with a cluster of casual eateries by star chefs. Fans of the popular grocery-cum-restaurant Maison Plisson will want to make a beeline to its new outpost in the 11th.

Overlooking the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro, the Cité de l’Architecture (the city’s vast architecture museum) has unveiled its new Restaurant Girafe. And, in the 5th arrondissement, Julia Sedefdjian — who was the youngest Michelin-starred chef when she helmed the Fables de la Fontaine (2016) — opened Baieta earlier this year.

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