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Inside The Hotel Lutetia

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  Site Where: 45 Boulevard Raspail, Paris, France, 75006
February 12, 2009 at 11:41 AM | by | Comments (0)

Although we don’t like to admit it, we often go by celeb guests when we’re deciding where to stay. So when we decided to take an empowered single lady trip to Paris, we took a leaf out of uber-empowered single Dita Von Teese, by going for the Left Bank Hotel Lutetia, where she’s apparently staying at the moment.

We didn’t catch Dita, or anyone else of note, but the bar is the place of choice for a host of French celebs – Carla Bruni used to be a regular before she became Mrs. Sarko, and Gerard Depardieu pops in most days. We can imagine that – it’s a gorgeous art deco hall with a couple of bronze statues propping up the lights, and panes of coloured glass on the ceiling.

The hotel has a pretty interesting history. It was built in 1910 by the owner of the Bon Marché store, just opposite, to put up his business guests for the night, and was taken over by the Nazis during WWII and used as their Paris HQ. After the war, French concentration camp survivors were reunited with their families here. Former owners of the Taittinger champagne family sold out to chic hotel chain, Concorde, three years ago.

Room Reaction
We loved our room. It was huge (a Junior Suite), it was comfy, and it had an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower and a nice Parisian boulevard. What with the free WiFi, we could have holed up there all weekend.

But - and it’s a fairly big but - we also found it incredibly frustrating that a room with such potential has let itself go. We called it the Brigitte Bardot suite, because it must have been a stunner in its heyday, but it hasn’t kept up running repairs. The wall was scuffed behind the suitcase rack, the underside of the fancy marble sink area hadn’t ever been finished, let alone seen a duster in months, and there was a faint stain on the bottom of the lavatory that looked like it needed a good scrubbing.

The decor wasn’t to our taste either. Nice cream walls, but what the hell was the blotchy carpet about? The tartan chairs and stripy curtains? And isn’t a white sofa a cardinal hotel no-no, unless you’re going to bleach it after every user? Ours looked grubby.

The rooms were refurbished a few years ago, according to the hotel, but god knows what they were doing with the clashing colour scheme. It’s almost as if the designer was doing his/her best to detract from the balcony and its stonking view. Which is a big pity.

We toured a host of other rooms as well, and, in the hotel’s favour, most of them looked fresher than ours. Rooms are all a fantastically good size for Paris, and some of the standard ones (505, 506, 507 and 714) have views of the Eiffel Tower. The top-class themed suites are also really special.

The Library Suite has its own little office and library, with a desk looking straight at the tower which must be one of the most inspiring workstations in the capital. The duplex Eiffel Suite, in the eaves of the hotel, has French windows pointing straight at the tower from the living room, bed, and even the bath. And the Arman suite, designed by the late Parisian artist Arman, is really incredible--optic fibres in the corridor to make the carpet sparkle, a sofa made out of violin cases, and a spectacular bed with violin-shaped headboard. Because everything’s original and worth a lot of money, you have to ask special permission to stay in that one.

What We Liked
Location-wise, the Lutetia’s pretty great – a five minute stroll from St Germain, about 30 minutes to the Eiffel Tower, and right on top of the Sèvres-Babylone Metro stop which will get you pretty much anywhere you want to go – Montmartre, the Marais, the Grand Palais – within about 25 minutes. And the Bon Marché is home to one of Paris’ best food halls. The public areas of the hotel will make you feel celebby, even if you don’t see one. Staff are ultra helpful, which we don’t always expect from Paris. And the views of the Eiffel Tower are so spectacular that you’ll forgive the dodgy decor.

What We Didn’t Like
The blotchy/tartan/stripy combo in our room made us want to weep with frustration. And despite the Brasserie being fabulously designed by fashion designer Sonia Rykiel, we had a truly woeful meal there. If you do go, avoid the pot au feu.

Bottom Line
Normally, we’d take a look at the upkeep of our room and say no thanks, but the room size, public areas and the views make us want to go there again. As we said, frustrating. This could be amazing, if they only calmed down the colour swatches. Maybe Dita could advise them how to sex it up. Room rates start at 210 Euros a night.

Disclaimer: JuliaB stayed at the Hotel Lutetia courtesy of the Concorde Hotels Group.

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