It’s a fete for six luxury hotels in France newly awarded the prestigious “palace” distinction. Atout France, the French tourism development agency, first created the category in November 2010 to recognize the exceptional five-star hotels that are in a class of their own. Palace hotels are distinguished by exceptional geographic location, architectural heritage, aesthetic design, and bespoke service. The award also functions to promote the French hospitality sector on the international scene, promoting the attractiveness of France as a destination. The distinction is awarded for a period of five years, after which it can be renewed.
In Paris, the Hotel Lutetia is the only new palace to join the roster. Since it first opened in 1910 in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district, the Lutetia has served as a gathering place for neighborhood society, as well as artists, writers and musicians. After a four-year, $235 million renovation unveiled last summer, the Lutetia is back as a Left Bank hot spot. In Provence, Villa La Coste and Chateau de Saint-Martin & Spa nabbed palace honors, while Cheval Blanc Saint-Tropez, a conversion of the legendary Résidence de la Pinède, is also now a palace. Meanwhile the glam alpine ski resort of Courchevel has two new palace hotels: Hotel L’Apogée, part of the Oetker Collection, and Hôtel Barrière Les Neiges.
There are now a total of 31 palace hotels in mainland France and the French territories (like Saint Barth's). The highest concentration of these elite properties is in Paris (12), with Courchevel boasting an impressive five palace hotels.