Luxury Hotels in Paris: Inside the Plaza Athénée
Tue 8 Mar 2011
Effortless elegance: The Dior Institut.
Where better to spend the afternoon than at the fabulous Hôtel Plaza Athénée, where I was lucky enough to be given a trip of the public areas as well as the wine cellar, kitchens and chic accommodations thanks to Travel Onion. Let’s put it this way: this Paris hotel is not too shabby! Julie Hong from Sales and Aude Bourgouin from Press Relations hosted our little trip party and introduced us to the directrice of the hotel, Laurence Bloch, who was just so nice and approachable.
The view of la trip from the suite.
Peter Komma, the front office manager, who has been with the hotel since 1971, took us to room 612, a beautiful deluxe double room on the sixth floor with a wonderful walk-in wardrobe and a large bathroom complete with a separate shower and bathtub and double washbasins. As beautiful as the room was, it was the view that captured my heart—but fortunately not my purse! As you open the balcony doors, there you are with the Carrie Bradshaw view of the Eiffel Tower. Whether I stay here in Paris for another two months or another 20 years, I hope that I will never fail to recognize the beauty of such an amazing landmark, and just a short walk away from the Plaza Athénée. Next Peter Komma showed us 888—one of the Signature Suites. If this suite were a man, I would have married it! Everybody gushed, “I want to live here!” as we stepped in. Spacious, calming and so elegant (and bigger than most Parisian apartments). Julie talked about the home-away-from-home style, and that is so evident. You know how some hotels look pretty, but the sofa is uncomfortable and there’s nowhere to put your tea? Not here! The suite has it all, including fresh flowers and binoculars—just in case the Eiffel Tower isn’t close enough!
The kitchen at the Plaza Athénée.
One of the best moments of the trip was in the kitchen. Yes, I like to see where the food is made. Christophe Saintagne, the friendly chef of the Alain Ducasse restaurant, was there to tell us about the menu. The focus is on the ingredients: simple, fresh and delicious. Now, this is modern French food—no heavy sauces, only in-season ingredients and an emphasis on quality. Simplicity at its best. Maxime Maze, maître d’hôtel, escorted us around the restaurant, which has to be one of the most luxurious dining rooms worldwide. With more than 10,000 pieces of crystal hanging above you, plus beaded screens with vegetable designs, this is no ordinary dining room. And while it’s fit for a princess, it suits me just fine!
The Alain Ducasse dining room sparkles.
We were given a unique trip of the wine cellar by one of the sommeliers, the knowledgeable Julien Gonzalez. Though it makes perfect sense for a hotel this large to have such an extensive wine cellar, nothing quite prepared me for the quantity—35,000 bottles! Upon entering the very posh vault, we found three bottles of the wine from 1911, the year of the hotel’s inauguration. Here’s hoping nobody breaks one… Julien Gonzalez explained that while they stock a few international wines, the cellar is predominately French. When in Rome (or Paris)…
The formidable cellars.
Going down to the Dior Institut, the first spa Dior opened within a hotel in Paris, is one seriously glamorous affair. This place is très chic, très Dior and, most of all, très Plaza Athénée! The second you step into the spa, you feel relaxed. We walked along a lovely corridor decorated with Christian Dior sketches, and I found myself in a beautiful double-therapy room with perfect lighting, showers and enough room to relax, and I wasn’t even having a treatment! The double rooms are just right for couples (the spa caters to men as well) or a luxury girly afternoon.
The last stop was Le Bar, which is open in the evenings only. The space somehow strikes that classic/modern balance with complete effortlessness. A glass of house champagne is an eye-watering 24 euros, but do not let that deter you; it’s not your local stop after work, after all! The service is professional and polite—everything you would expect from such an establishment—but there’s more to it than that. Le Bar creates that unpretentious atmosphere that allows you to enjoy yourself and not worry about what is going on around you.
I’m not going to lie to you. The Plaza Athénée isn’t cheap (it’s not even moderately priced!), but I do believe that it is worth every euro. You’re not just paying for location and beautiful surroundings; you’re paying for peace and comfort, and—let’s be honest—isn’t that what we’re all looking for when we travel? I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and have spent the last few days trying to get my husband to make a reservation. The fact that we actually have an apartment in Paris will not deter me…
Dior Institut at the Plaza Athénée
Editor’s note: Throw caution to the wind and book a stay at the Plaza A today—hey, that rhymes!