Along with renowned sites like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, Parisian hotels are points of interest in their own right. The city is brimming with hotels that are opulent works of architecture and have played host to the noteworthy artists, chefs and diplomats that put the city on the map.
Stay in Coco Chanel’s personally appointed suite at the Ritz Paris
The guest rooms at the Ritz Paris exude luxury | Courtesy of Ritz Paris / Expedia
The Ritz Paris was a favourite haunt for Paris’s American authors. F Scott Fitzgerald had a dedicated seat at the bar, and Ernest Hemingway would come here to imbibe dry martinis (rumour has it he once ran up a tab for 51 of them!). Notable French icons revelled in the hotel’s timeless sophistication, too, like Coco Chanel and Marcel Proust whose spirits have been immortalised in their designated suites.
There are a few reasons why the Hôtel Plaza Athénée is one of the most famous hotels in Paris. For starters, there’s that view. The hotel’s Eiffel Tower suites are some of the most coveted hotel rooms in the City of Lights. They offer an unobscured glimpse of the tower, perfectly positioned in a rectangular window that serves as a frame. Then, there’s its role in two critical French industries: fashion and food. It was here that Christian Dior showcased his very first dress collection in 1947, and the hotel’s five restaurants see legendary chef Alain Ducasse at their helm.
The Art-Deco facade of the Four Seasons Hotel George V is a landmark on its avenue of the same name. Built in 1928, this luxury five-star hotel has long been known for its elite guests, which have included The Beatles (they wrote their hit song ‘I Feel Fine’ in their suite), and Elizabeth Taylor and Conrad Hilton during their honeymoon in 1950. Equally important as its refined accommodations are its culinary endeavours. The hotel’s Le Cinq restaurant boasts three Michelin stars, while two more restaurants boast one Michelin star apiece.
Le Bristol Paris is often lauded as one of the best hotels in the city, which has, in turn, made it one of the most famous. Its accolades are many, including innumerable awards (like the number one hotel from TripAdvisor and the prestigious ‘Palace’ designation from the French tourism board) and its three-Michelin-star restaurant, Epicure. The hotel was used for the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris and is also known for its adorable mascot, Fa-Raon, a Burmese cat who greets guests at the door.
Seated in Saint-Germain-des-Prés – one of the city’s chicest neighbourhoods – Hôtel Lutetia is an Art Nouveau dream. You can’t miss its striking exterior, with an almost Gaudi-esque undertone yet awash with classic Parisian white stone. Hôtel Lutetia was built in 1910 by the owners of the famous Parisian department store, Le Bon Marché. While it has hosted a bevy of household names like Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and James Joyce, perhaps its most remarkable moment came in 1944 when Charles de Gaulle ordered the hotel to take in victims of the Nazi regime after the liberation of France.
L’Hotel was the last home of Oscar Wilde; he was tragically found dead in his room at the hotel (at the time known as Hotel d’Alsace) on November 30, 1900, at the age of 46. However, it’s not all sad news at this bohemian-chic property – L’Hotel lays claim to being the first-ever boutique hotel in the world. Its exclusive location in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the intimate atmosphere also made it a top choice for artists and musicians like Serge Gainsbourg, Salvador Dalí and Jim Morrison.
One of the oldest hotels on the list, Le Meurice first opened its doors in 1815 on rue Saint-Honoré before relocating to rue de Rivoli where it sits today. Pablo Picasso had the reception for his wedding to Olga Khokhlova here, and Salvador Dalí would take up residency at Le Meurice for one month of the year for almost 30 years. Le Meurice’s most chilling moment arrived when it heard a phone call between Adolf Hitler and a German soldier headquartered at the hotel during the Nazi occupation. Hitler was said to have uttered the chilling words: “Is Paris burning?”
The Peninsula Paris has been the site of many critical moments. Not only was the Paris Peace Accords signed here, putting an end to the Vietnam War, but it was also at one time a UNESCO headquarters. It’s walls watched a plan being hatched to assassinate Hitler, too. For a lighter – yet still noteworthy – moment, in 1928, American composer George Gershwin wrote the music for the 1951 film An American in Paris in his hotel room.
Overlooking the Place de la Concorde – a site that’s had a front-row seat to many memorable moments – Hôtel de Crillon has seen its fair share. It’s held its position here since 1758, living through the French Revolution, two French kings and the Napoleonic Empire. It was first conceived as the official accommodation for global ambassadors and was the venue where the United States signed its first treaties with France. Today, Hôtel de Crillon is listed as a National Historic Monument of France by the French Ministry of Culture and, like Le Bristol, bears the exclusive ‘Palace’ designation by the French Tourism Board.