Go back to the enewsletter Hotel Lutetia Paris is

first_imgGo back to the enewsletterHotel Lutetia, Paris is a really unique luxury hotel. It reopened 17 July 2018, and I wanted to have a look. Harrods tried unsuccessfully to open its own hotels, and yes, it could be argued that Bulgari – and, fleetingly, Missoni – are storekeepers who also have hotels. But I was amazed that the idea of combining retail with lodging is, in fact, 109 years old.In 1910, the management of Le Bon Marché, which had been reimagined as the world’s first modern department store in Paris by Aristide and Marguerite Boucicaut in 1852, decided to open a hotel for their most favoured customers. But, instead of naming it after the shop, they called it Lutetia, the original Roman name of Paris. Obviously, the store was doing well. Sculptors Léon Binet and Paul Belmondo, father of Jean-Paul, were commissioned to decorate the facade in Art Nouveau style. Now, all these years later, the seven-floor exterior is as immediately iconic, worldwide, as is – in a different way – Frank Gehry’s design for the Marqués de Riscal hotel.Today the hotel, part of The Set collection owned by the Alrov family, is still as stunning as ever. Its exterior, on the corner of the arty Left Bank’s boulevard Raspail and rue de Sèvres, is Gaudí-like. Enter from the main door and, thanks to brilliant designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte, you look through a series of arches, a ceremonial walkway flanked by white walls.This is a hotel that has been a regular haunt for locals from the start. There were authors, including Pierre Assouline and James Joyce; Pierre Bergé lived here for a long time. Entertainment habitués included Serge Gainsbourg and Juliette Gréco. Carla Bruni, who retreated here for privacy during her years living at the Elysée Palace, apparently still comes from time to time (though her husband, a keen swimmer, does his daily laps in another hotel’s indoor pool).Today, a main gathering place for the Paris cultural elite is Bar Joséphine, the ground-floor bar named for Joséphine Baker. I thought this the quintessential bar for sophisticated conversation: sitting down, or up at the bar, regulars gather after work or before a performance. From the extensive vodka menu in a ‘theatre’ with frescoed walls blending with the barrelled ceiling above, you might choose a Rive Gauche: 26 Vodka Guillotine with St Germain elderflower, herbs, celery and Taittinger Cuvée Lutetia (Taittinger owned the hotel for a time).Hotel Lutetia | L’OrangerieGM Jean-Luc Cousty, back at the hotel for the fourth time in his career, is as exuberant as a pre-schooler now all the work is finished. He says he plans a Lutetia literary event, with an international jury; the hotel has a superb library, open to anyone (I immediately spy interesting tomes called Everest and Icons).He does seem to have everything here, including an indoor pool (in case Mme Sarkozy wants to swim), a great gym and a new outdoor inner courtyard. So what else does this characterful hotel need? Cousty tells me a second bar, Aristide, opens shortly and will have a cigar room. When it comes to dining, what the bars have to offer – which is pretty extensive – is complemented by the popular Lutetia Brasserie, with Gérald Passedat’s Michelin reputation.Hotel Lutetia | Saint GermainI dined in the comparatively discreet Le Saint Germain, an inner room that leads through to the newly opened inner courtyard. The squash court-sized indoor space is dominated by a strategic flat ceiling, with Chagall-type, backlit stained glass by Fabrice Hyber. This is the place for a quiet tea or coffee, or something from Benjamin Brial’s comfort menu; you get chunks of Poilâne-type bread from Dallas bakery and Maison Bordier butter, while the trendy choose the now-ubiquitous lettuce salad with lemon and virgin olive oil. Then go on to the best-selling burgers: six-inch-high towers of Charolais ground beef with Beaufort cheese. Breakfast is in a dedicated room, with more Maison Bordier (both butter and yoghurt) and more types of croissants than I knew existed.Hotel Lutetia | Lutetia SuiteIt is time to share the delights of corner suite 888, also named for Joséphine Baker. The area, 75 square metres in all, wraps around from boulevard Raspail (living room) to rue de Sèvres (bedroom). Flooring is mostly parquet, with rugs in the living room and bedroom. There are French windows opening onto narrow balconies around the suite, including the living room, bathroom and bedroom. Walls are off-white, with wedding-cake moulding. The living room ceiling has a three-metre-long, black-and-white photo of a woman dancing the can-can; get her full view by lying on the floor, head by the window.Art Deco furniture is mostly taupe, and the refreshment centre has a Nespresso machine and an automatic mini-bar. The closet includes a Dyson hairdryer and the safe, plenty of hanging space and two sizes of The Set paper carry-bags. The bathroom (toilet on left, shower on right) has a white marble floor inset with copper geometric lines, with copper fittings. The Roman-type bathtub is white marble. Toiletries are green Hermès. The bedroom’s headboard is, like corridor walls, varnished eucalyptus, with set fibre optics for in-bed reading. A pair of wall-set mirrors, angled on to the other, give full-length viewing.Hotel Lutetia | Saint Germain PenthouseIt is really not surprising that this is a luxury hotel which quickly becomes a way of life, especially for multi-interest movers and shakers who like this part of town.Go back to the enewsletterlast_img read more