If Paris is the world capital of fashion then Avenue Montaigne, which is lined with luxury boutiques that read like a Who’s Who of world-famous fashion imperiums, is the fashion capital of Paris. The Plaza Athenee Paris Hotel, with its signature red geranium flower boxes, is situated right smack in the middle of this eponymous avenue. Luxury Travel Beat decided to do like Sarah Jessica Parker, Bono and the entire cast of Rush Hour 3 have done before us and check into the hotel.
First impression: Old-school luxury, charm and elegance, and tons of it. Dedicated, charming and enthusiastic staff go to great lengths to ensure the urban legend of the arrogant French men becomes just that. Check -in is quick and efficient despite the fact that we arrived early, and Luxury Travel Beat is shown to room 361, the Eiffel Suite.
The Room: The Eiffel Suite was aptly named because it affords guest a magnificent almost life-size view of the Eiffel Tower, which is a mere kilometer away. Many hotels in Paris boast of views of this iconic Parisian landmark, only to reveal small glimpses of it from afar when you get there. This is definitely not the case here; The view from the Eiffel suite almost entirely frames the tower as in a picture, giving you fantastic views of it at night, when it literally shimmies in a light frenzy at the turn of every hour. The hotel’s 146 rooms and 45 suites are meticulously decorated in either Art Deco, Regency or Louis XVI style, successfully combining traditional opulence with up to the minute modern touches, including mirror televisions in the suites.
Restaurant and bar options: 11 year’s ago, Alain Ducasse started a trend that was to catch on like wild fire amongst his gastronomic contemporaries: Michelin-starred dining establishments in luxury hotels. The Plaza Athenee Paris was the flagship host to Ducasse’s wildly successful idea. The hotel has five exclusive restaurants, (if one also counts those that are open in the summer), which are all overseen by the chef, who boasts the honour of having more Michelin stars than any other chef in history. Luxury Travel Beat tried the La Cour Jardin, which is a terrace restaurant in the summer months and an ice-skating rink in the winter. Here, empasis is laid on fresh ingredients as the basis for light and sesonal cuisine, all enjoyed in one of Paris’ most famous courtyards.
The Spa: Institut Dior is the hotel’s bastion of pampering, where hands are regularly offered for perfect french manicures, shopping-weary bodies for massaging and image-conscious visages for shiatsu facelifts. It was opened in 2008 but the relationship between the Christian Dior and The Plaza Athenee dates back to 1947 when Christian Dior set up shop on 30 Avenue Montaigne precisely because he wanted to be close to the Plaza Athenee and its well-heeled guests. So fond was he of the Plaza Athenee that he named some of the designs in his collections “Plaza” and “Athenee”. Guests today can enjoy a wide range of Dior-based treatments in a historic and tranquil setting.
The lowdown: Hotel Plaza Athénée: 25 avenue Montaigne, Paris (00 33 1 53 67 66 65; www.plaza-athenee-paris.com). Doubles from €650