WHETHER YOU’RE VISITING THE CITY OF LIGHT FOR BUSINESS OR PLEASURE, A STOP AT THE PENINSULA PARIS IS A MUST, WRITES Emilie Yabut-razon
Whether it’s a business trip or for pleasure, a stay at The Peninsula Paris is a must
Paris always impresses with its grand monuments and museums, but it is the city’s beautiful architecture, stylish hangouts and cute cafes that truly enchant. In August, the City of Light celebrated the opening of the first Peninsula hotel in Europe, set in a century-old building a stone’s throw away from the majestic Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue des Champs-élysées. The hotel, which took six years of restoration work to return to its former glory, features several notable haunts, including a terrace cafe overlooking Avenue Kléber, a historic bar and a rooftop restaurant offering superlative views of the Eiffel Tower.
The property, which occupies a late-19thcentury Haussmann building, first opened in 1908 as The Hotel Majestic and was one of the city’s most luxurious hotels. It enjoyed three decades of hosting the rich and famous, including leading artists and musicians during the Belle Époque and Années Folles eras, when Paris was truly a hub of creativity.
During World War II, the hotel was converted into a headquarters for Unesco, and in 1958 became a conference centre for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which occupied it until 2009. With the aim of preserving the rich heritage, the hotel’s owners enlisted the help of some of France’s most revered family firms—which had worked on heritage projects such as the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles—to restore the building’s decor, including the marble, stucco, mosaics, wood carvings and paintings.
It took six years for the hotel to be transformed into the iconic structure it is today, with the façade and most of the ground floor restored to their original designs, and the rooms modernised with the latest in hospitality technology. Part of the modernisation of the heritage building was the excavation of three basement levels to provide a spa, a 20-metre swimming pool, a fitness centre and a private car park with direct access to guest floors, together with extensive back-of-house areas.
On arrival, guests are welcomed into the lobby by the hotel’s signature pageboys in their crisp white uniforms and pillbox caps. Dancing Leaves, an installation that comprises 800 hand-blown crystal leaves by veteran Czech artisan Lasvit that reference the plane trees lining Avenue Kléber, features prominently in the main hall.
All rooms include a spacious bedroom with a marble bathroom and walk-in closet. Furnished in soft grey and cream hues with high ceilings and tasteful artwork, the rooms boast fully customised interactive bedside
tablets for control of all in-room functions, including the TV, thermostat and privacy options. All 200 rooms in the hotel— including 34 suites—have a seated dressing table with nail dryer and the signature Peninsula valet box for discreet pick-up and delivery of laundry and dry cleaning. Five of the suites feature their own private rooftop garden, offering spectacular 360-degree views over the city.
The Lobby is a tradition at every Peninsula hotel and, at The Peninsula Paris, the Avenue Kléber entrance leads to a grand dining area with soaring curved ceilings, ornate drapery and marble floors. The restaurant offers allday dining, including The Peninsula’s famed afternoon tea. In the spring and summer, breakfast is best taken at La Terrasse Kléber, the adjacent outdoor cafe, with a futuristic glass-and-steel canopy.
Executive chef Jean-edern Hurstel and his team of award-winning chefs operate under the farm-to-table philosophy. The Peninsula Paris also has an extensive wine cellar, presided over by chief sommelier Xavier Thuizat, and stocked with bottles from niche boutiques and small but excellent producers throughout France.
An ideal spot for lunch or dinner, Cantonese restaurant Lili boasts a dramatic setting with marble columns, midnight blue walls and chandeliers. Sweeping red curtains, a dome inspired by the sound stage of an opera hall and a revolutionary fibre-optic hanging at the entrance ensures a visual and sensory feast. Chef Tang Chi-keung, who hails from Hong Kong, is in charge of the menu. He has worked for the group since 1986 and The Peninsula Tokyo was awarded a Michelin star during his tenure.
For pre-dinner drinks, Le Bar Kléber has a historic ambience with oak panelling, gilded mouldings and giant mirrors. The bar offers an extensive collection of cocktails, fine wines, champagnes, spirits and international
whiskies. Double-height windows lead out on to La Terrasse Kléber for alfresco drinks.
End the day at The Peninsula Paris’ crowning glory—l’oiseau Blanc restaurant, bar and terrace. Located on the sixth floor of the hotel, it serves up amazing views over Paris’ most iconic spots, including Montmartre, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. With one of the city’s largest outdoor terraces, the atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, showcasing a menu of authentic French fare with a modern twist, together with an extensive list of wines developed by chef Sidney Redel, a former protégé of Pierre Gagnaire. The aviation-themed restaurant celebrates the ill-fated venture of pilots Charles Nungesser and François Coli, who attempted to cross the Atlantic in 1927 from Le Bourget but disappeared during the flight. A unique collection of aviation memorabilia is on display, including a replica of the L’oiseau Blanc biplane in the adjacent courtyard.
The Peninsula Paris also boasts an extensive art collection, which includes Moon River by renowned Spanish sculptor Xavier Corbero, and The World Belongs to Me, an installation by Ben Jakober and Yannick Vu, two British artists living in Costa Rica. There is a particular emphasis on French artists as well, represented by the mixed media works of Patricia Erbelding in every guestroom, bronze and aluminium sculptures by Nathalie Decoster in the suites, and an oil and gesso painting by Michel Alexis in the Kléber Gallery. Two-thirds of the pieces on display were specially commissioned for The Peninsula Paris, and all the art was curated by Hong Kong’s Sabrina Fung, who created the in-house art programmes for The Peninsula Hotels in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The only hotel in the city with a customised car fleet, The Peninsula Paris offers guests chauffeured services in bespoke Rolls-royces (including a 1934 Phantom II), BMWS and Mini Cooper S Clubman hardtops, all finished in The Peninsula’s signature green livery and modified by the hotel for comfort.
No matter where you stay, Paris will always be Paris: the most beautiful city on earth. But with the elegance and romance of The Peninsula Paris added to the mix, the French capital becomes more tempting than ever.
good taste Clockwise from left: Chinese restaurant Lili; guests can be chauffeured in a 1934 Rolls-royce Phantom II; Lasvit’s Dancingleaves hangs in the lobby; signature cocktail Le Kléber