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Progress on the Salon César Ritz
Saying the Ritz Paris has been closeted away for a while now is something of an understatement – we're talking July 2012 - but as the interminable renovations finally begin to drag to a close, some concrete information is emerging.
Specifically, information in the shape of this interview with Christian Boyens, the General Manager.
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Walter Bolzonella at the Cipriani
Having a drink in one iconic hotel is good enough. Having a drink in one iconic hotel that’s mixed by the staff from another iconic hotel – even better. Having a drink from one iconic hotel that’s made by the staff of another iconic hotel while on the most iconic train on the planet? We need a drink. Preferably one made by the Ritz Paris bartenders, but made at the Belmond Cipriani in Venice, or served on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
In a collaboration between the two hotels and the famous train, the head bartenders of the Ritz Paris (Colin Field - who, of course, is currently homeless, since the hotel is closed, and is going around the world staging pop-ups) and the Cipriani (Walter Bolzonella) will run a pop-up bar at the Cip from 9-15 April.
But wait! It gets better than that.
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The brainchild of three friends who run L'Experimental Group of cocktails and restaurants, this is a place to have fun – the website alone talks about the “hedonism like no other” of the city, and promises “liveliness over nostalgia” for the rooms. Their ideal guest? The “cultivated traveler, who knows that the elegance of a sojourn is as much about respect for a cosmopolitan savoir-vivre as it is for the discovery of strong local cultures.” Not quite sure we're cool enough. Et vous?
Paris is in the throes of a hotel building boom with new smaller properties opening up as well as some pretty major overhauls going on. With all this activity, we’d hope to see some reasonable prices in there, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with only one or two exceptions.
The new Meliá Paris La Défense, open for only ten days, may just be the answer if you’re looking for a nicely designed hotel at a good rate. The catch, though, is that it’s not in the epicenter of Paris’s museum and historical area but, rather, in the heart of the city's business district. If you’re in the city for business this is, of course, rather perfect but if you’re a plucky pleasure traveler the metro is oh-so-close, meaning right across the street from the hotel.
The hotel is a biggie (in fact it’s the largest four-star to open in the French capital in ten years) with 369 rooms and suites spread out over 18 floors (on the 19th floor is the fitness center and Skyline Lounge). Designed in the shape of a sail by Vasconi Architects in partnership with French interior designer Jean-Philippe Nuel, the brainchild behind the high-profile revamp of Paris’s iconic Molitor Swimming Pool, the hotel gives you a bird’s eye view over Paris.
Today we have a before and after with a twist for you: rather than a straightforward out with the old, in with the new, we’re starting with a vintage photograph of the elaborate Le Grand Salon at what was then Hotel Terminus in Paris. Check out the lions guarding the tiered staircase, the pillars and arches, and those chandeliers.
First opened in 1889 for the Exposition Universelle (the World Fair that also saw the creation of the Eiffel Tower), its location next to Gare St. Lazare (and in fact, physical attachment to – more on that in a second) made it the ideal choice for those coming in on long-distance trains from the coast. Over the years, as these stories often go, things were painted or plastered over, boarded up, or otherwise altered.
New ownership coming in at the end of December meant a cash injection of $50 million, as well as a change in management from Concorde Hotels to Hilton. Officially reopened as the Hilton Paris Opera at the end of January (when we first fell in love with it), here is what Le Grand Salon looks like today.
It may be a 1908 Beaux Arts building in the middle of Paris, but Peninsula Hotels made sure when spending hundreds of millions on its first European hotel that besides all the artisans and historians restoring murals, plasterwork, and the like, some serious money was spent on wiring the place up.
The end result? Well over a mile of cabling inside each room (and more in those humongous suites) to make everything – and we do mean everything – controlled through these tablets and / or little touch screens on the walls. Want to take a bath? Touch the “spa” button and lighting dims as soothing music starts playing. Have shoes that need polishing? Drop them in the valet box, press the button, and they’ll be delivered back to you shiny as can be.
With its renovation plans announced, these tablets are on their way to Chicago, and – we have no doubt – to all Peninsula hotels eventually. Check out what’s at the touch of a button below.
The hotel has been designed by Jacques Garcia, and is a reproduction of a “maison close” – a “pleasure house” that “played second home to the socialites and aesthetes” at the turn of the century, according to the hotel. There are 20 rooms, all of which are named after real Parisian courtesans.
So what exactly will you find in a pleasure house? Answer after the jump!
Yes, we did say inside two of the top suites at The Peninsula Paris, and we will take you on a full tour, but we had to start with this: a shot from the private rooftop garden of La Suite Katara, a vast outdoor space with knee-buckling views of Paris, including the replica of l’Oiseau Blanc (the French bi-plane that disappeared during its attempt to complete the first transatlantic flight) suspended next to the restaurant of the same name and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Part of a trio (the third being the Historic Suite), La Suite Katara and La Suite Peninsula are the latest addition that round out the total of 200 rooms and suites in the 1908 grand hotel on Avenue Kléber. Ready to see what $22,000 and up a night gets you in the City of Light? Here we go.
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Nearly a year and a half ago we looked at this pair of Parisian palace hotels and said they were deep into their beauty sleeps: Hotel de Crillon had just about a year behind it, while Hotel Ritz was hammering away at renovating rooms and public spaces for fifteen months already. While there is progress to report, both hotels are still far off from waking up.
We’ll flip the order this time and make a stop on Place de la Concorde first, where today you will see a temporary façade larger than the Crillon itself hiding the construction quarters that have been erected (a better view of how that works below). Forget also that 2015 opening; it’ll be nearer the end of next year, if not 2017, before Rosewood will have its third European hotel.
In her capacity as Miss Dior, Natalie Portman is (unknowingly we assume) helping Hôtel Lutetia Paris hide during its three-year closure / renovation - and full hiding mode it is for the hotel on Boulevard Raspail in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, with half of the 1910 Art Nouveau façade covered by Miss Portman in part, and half by a giant external structure of construction quarters (below).
With final guests having checked out last April, and all contents of the hotel having gone on the auction block in May, the hotel is only ten months into that three-year overhaul, so don’t expect much before 2017 here. That sounds light years away, but with The Peninsula making its splash last summer (more on that soon), The Ritz Paris hopefully coming back by the end of this year, and Hotel de Crillon then picking 2016 for its return, that makes for a nice pace in Parisian Palace debuts, don’t you think?
When we stayed at Mandarin Oriental Paris a few years ago, we remember seeing a continuous flow of very glamorous people coming in and out of an entrance a few doors down on (extremely fancy) Rue St Honoré, with a hint of something equally glamorous inside visible. Investigating further, it turned out to – perhaps not surprisingly – the Hôtel Costes, long a celebrity draw, which has just been announced will pack its velvet, heavy drapes, and boudoir lighting into the Eurostar and bring some Parisian chic to London.
Working together with the Cadogan Estate, one of the biggest landowners in the city, it will open a 40-room hotel at One Sloane Gardens, just off of Sloane Square and up the road from the Sloane Club. Above the Victorian apartment building that will be converted into the hotel, which gives it almost a straight line to local favorite The Botanist across the square.
Every time we turn our heads away, a Paris hotel opens. Last week we had news of the ridiculously expensive La Réserve and the far more affordable Hilton Paris Opera; this week, we’re salivating over the opening (or should that be reopening?) of the Hôtel Les Bains.
Once a public bathhouse, then a cult nightclub, Les Bains, in the Marais district, was built in 1885 as Les Bains Douches, and was initially the most famous thermal spa in Paris – Marcel Proust took the waters here! Fast forward to 1978, and Andy Warhol and his ilk were living it up in the baths-turned-nightclub (designed by the then unknown Philippe Starck), which became the Studio 54 of Paris. The club closed in 2011, when it became a full-immersion art installation and artists’ residency. And now – draw breathe – it’s about to be a hotel.