Hotels that’ll put the ooh la la in your Paris getaway
Experience the lap of luxury while taking in the city of lights
IT’S NOT DIFFICULT to imagine Marlene Dietrich holding court in Fouquet’s, the famous Paris bistro where the Champs-elysées meets Avenue George V; nor James Joyce, who would sit there for days on end drinking white wine and writing Finnegans Wake, only breaking off when friends such as Samuel Beckett would pull up a chair.
The bistro, which opened in 1899, remains a Paris institution, its spirit intact despite several refurbishments. In 2006, the building became the très chic Hôtel Barrière Le Fouquet’s. The following year, Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated his presidential victory there.
The hotel’s imposing Haussmann-style façade isn’t let down by its interior, originally by Edouard François and Jacques Garcia, who oversaw another refurbishment last year. The softly lit entrance lobby – a cocoon of Louis XIV furniture in red, gold, silk and velvet – is suitably decadent. But Garcia played a clever hand by also injecting a contemporary freshness.
Fouquet’s is now overseen by celebrated chef Pierre Gagnaire, or you can dine at the more casual Le Joy, which opens out on to the garden. There’s also the wood-panelled L’escadrille bar and another hidden-away option behind a bookshelf door, Le Marta, for tea by the fire or cocktails into the early hours.
The hotel’s subterranean spa has a 15m swimming pool and, after a day’s sightseeing, you can’t beat a pre-bed trip to its sauna (it’s open until 10pm).
We recently checked in to two other Paris gems that are well worth a mention. L’hôtel du Collectionneur, housed in a restored art-deco building near Parc Monceau and the Arc de Triomphe in the eighth arrondissement, embraces its roots with a striking gold, black and tan colour scheme and a repeated magpie motif. Its restaurant, by chef Joël Veyssière, reopened last summer after a complete refurbishment, with indoor or outdoor tables in a leafy courtyard and a seasonal, seafood-leaning Mediterranean menu that also includes ceviche and pad thai. Whether you book an executive Eiffel-facing room or go all out with the two-bedroom, double-terraced présidentielle suite, the tower views are exceptional.
Meanwhile, combining the elegance of a grand palace hotel with the intimacy of a private home, family-run Pavillon de la Reine is an ivy-covered aristocratic mansion accessed through a garden just off the gorgeous Place des Vosges in Le Marais. It opened its first restaurant this autumn, the hotly anticipated Anne, by chef Mathieu Pacaud, which serves classic French dishes with a contemporary twist and is the perfect spot for a cosy lunch. C’est impeccable.
Clockwise from below left L’escadrille and Le Marta at Hôtel Barrière Le Fouquet’s; Hôtel du Collectionneur; Anne at Pavillon de la Reine 1. Hôtel Barrière Le Fouquet’s Doubles from £560 (hotelsbarriere.com)
3. Pavillon de la Reine Doubles from £290 (pavillon-de-la-reine.com)
2. L’hôtel du Collectionneur Doubles from £260 (hotelducollectionneur.com)