Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel 33 Avenue George V, 75001 Paris; luxurycollection.com. Rooms from $880 (€600) a night.
In French, Prince de Galles refers to Britain’s Prince of Wales. That, in light of the recent addition to the Royal Family, makes the reopening of this 84-year-old hotel particularly apt. The hotel sits immediately beside the Four Seasons Hotel George V. But if the Prince de Galles might have once appeared to exist in the George V’s shadow, this is no longer the case. Post-makeover, the hotel commands a lustre all its own. As part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, it is a gem within a city of precious jewel properties.
Less than five minutes by foot from the Champs-Elysées and less than 10 from the posh Avenue Montaigne, the hotel is dangerously close to every degree of retail temptation. Thankfully, it is also within a short stroll of the Seine and the main Métro line, providing easy escape from the excesses of the Eighth Arrondissement. If you’re there on a Wednesday or Saturday, stop by the outdoor market on Avenue du Président Wilson, where locals buy all their fresh food. Bonus tip: The Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum is open until midnight except on Tuesdays.
Au revoir to the Toile de Jouy patterned walls and period decor that would have seemed so elegant when first introduced. After more than two years of top-to-bottom renovation, the look is nouveau art deco: lacquered ebony fixtures, artfully contrasting upholstery patterns, a cool colour palette with accents of coral and celadon and mirrors galore. With Pierre-Yves Rochon overseeing the interiors and Bruno Borrione taking charge of the communal spaces, there’s a subtle push-pull between calm grandeur and extroverted glam, but this back-to-the-future strategy won’t date itself any time soon. Oh, and don’t mistake the glittery wall sconces for the French fleur-de-lys; they represent a trio of ostrich feathers, the Prince of Wales insignia.
For a hotel gym in Paris (where drinking en plein air remains the national pastime), this one is spacious and well equipped with Technogym machines. Help yourself to the generous spread of fruit (fresh and dried) and chocolate-dipped granola bars.
If I could change one thing
No one comes to Paris expecting a bargain. But here, you pay separately for the gin and the tonic, which adds up to a drink more expensive than dinner at a local brasserie. When you’re paying royal room rates, some things should be provided without added cost.
Eat in or eat out?
Aware that it faces stiff competition – this is the birthplace of haute gastronomy, after all – the hotel recruited Stéphanie Le Quellec, best known as the winner of Top Chef (France) in 2011, to bring her flair for fresh ingredients to La Scène (a double entendre on “scene” and the river Seine). With a fully exposed kitchen in the centre of the ultra sleek space, you have guaranteed dinner theatre and the menu is presented as a sequence of actes. Be prepared for some serious, decadent eating: langoustines, foie gras, sweetbreads and prime rib.
Room with a view
This is not the place to stay if you want to gaze at the Eiffel Tower. Some guests might even prefer the courtyard over the street view; the original mosaics reflect a golden glow when the sun passes over them.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.