In today’s modern world, a hotel that stays true to its traditions and history while keeping up with the latest technological advancements is hard to come by. However, that was exactly what we found when we were in Paris last December.
Its iconic red awnings, opulent decor and unparalleled hospitality attracted the likes of fashion designers, models and movie stars since its inception. First opened in the famed Avenue Montaigne in 1913, the grande dame boasts a long history — and has been the setting of various movies, fashion shoots and events.
We first stepped into the majestic hotel lobby in awe of its grandeur — and that set the tone for the rest of our stay.
Named after 16th-century French writer Michel de Montaigne (famous for his Essais), Avenue Montaigne is the French capital’s famous shopping avenue, home to some of the greatest haute couture stores such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Fendi, Valentino, Chloé, Céline, Saint Laurent, and Bulgari.
Besides world-class shopping, guests staying at Hôtel Plaza Athénée also get to enjoy unparalleled access to some of the city’s best attractions, especially the Champs-Élysées and Eiffel Tower. In fact, the latter is within walking distance from the hotel — with some rooms even boasting terraces that open up to a magical view of the world-famous monument.
The hotel’s accommodation combines Parisian splendour with Hôtel Plaza Athénée’s famous hospitality and attention to detail, and this is evident in its 18th-century inspired plush rooms and suites — with interiors dreamt up by François Delahaye and Laurence Bloch.
We stayed in a Junior Suite with a Plaza Montaigne View, which is an expansive space featuring a foyer, along with separate living and bedrooms. The suite is decorated with highly curated furniture and adorned with rich and luxurious materials — such as silk fabrics lined with shimmering colours and cushions that have been embroidered with the hotel’s legendary emblem. Soft greys and refined beiges make up a mellow colour palette for the suite — complemented by paintings and works of art that are flecked with these tones.
To our surprise, the suite is also equipped with modern tech upgrades such as USB charging options throughout, an iPad that allows you to control everything from the room temperature to light settings, as well as the use of smart lights in the bathroom.
The expansive living room comes with a study area, a dining area for four, and a large seating area for eight to ten people — great for hosting guests on special occasions. Additionally, it also features an open fireplace decked with electric candles as opposed to the traditional wood and fire.
The bathrooms bring a touch of modernity, with gilt mirrors reflecting light onto the beautiful white marbles. Each of these details reflect the haute couture universe that characterises Avenue Montaigne. The shower makes use of Skinjay’s essential oils capsule system which infuses essential oils into the water — the ultimate treat.
Our favourite thing about the suite is the unparalleled views. Opening up the glass doors facing Plaza Montaigne leads you to your private balcony, where you get to marvel in awe of Paris’ shining beacon, the Eiffel Tower, alongside the glittering River Seine.
Besides our Junior Suite, there are also other options that feature panoramic views of the Eiffel Tower, from small classic rooms to swanky suites. The most prestigious is the contemporary Signature Eiffel Suite, perfect for the quintessential high-roller.
Hôtel Plaza Athénée is famed for its culinary offerings, especially with Alain Ducasse, one of the world’s most decorated chefs, at its helm. Ducasse oversees the hotel’s portfolio of six restaurants and bars.
Of the many things the hotel is known for, its breakfast, served in Alain Ducasse du Plaza Athenee, is one of them. The restaurant offers exceptional food and service in a refined setting. Highlights here include the French toast, asparagus eggs, and its fluffy pancakes with maple syrup. While the existing menu is extensive, any extra requests (such as dietary restrictions) can be met by the accommodating staff.
Once breakfast is done and dusted, the same restaurant is magically transformed and opens up for lunch and dinner. The restaurant boasts three Michelin stars, and serves up cuisine based on Ducasse’s unique culinary concept. Its unique and healthy menu combines the trilogy of fish, vegetables and cereal — quite the opposite of what you would associate with classic French cuisine. The wine menu is expansive, featuring some of Ducasse’s own champagnes and wines. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, this is worth stopping by for.
For traditional French food, head to Le Relais Plaza, a brasserie offering all things typical of old-school French food dreamt up by chef Philippe Marc. This includes everything from signature delights such as beef tartare, mashed potato, and mouthwatering steaks, to unique specialities such as thinly sliced Brittany artichokes with truffles.
No city does beauty quite like Paris. The hotel features a state of the art Dior Spa, whose philosophy is based around reactivating youthfulness to deliver instant and long-lasting rejuvenating results. Its spa menu features everything from facial treatments and Dior microabrasion to massage treatments.
For those who like keeping fit while on the go, the hotel features a small gym with basic equipment like treadmills, cross-fit cardio equipment to machines and free weights. However, there is no swimming pool.
One last thing that deserves a mention is the hotel’s highly professional and attentive staff who would go above and beyond to ensure that guests have a comfortable stay. We experienced this first-hand on our first day when we arrived with a damaged Rimowa after our flight from Spain. Hôtel Plaza Athénée’s porter offered to fix the wheel and even contacted the brand to pick up the luggage. The next day, it arrived as good as new.
Another incident was when the hotel’s general manager personally came to apologise to us and all other guests affected by a small issue at one of the F&B outlets — even sending up a bottle of champagne and chocolates to our room with a handwritten note. This is the kind of service that makes the difference between a good hotel and a truly great one.
We came to Hôtel Plaza Athénée with high expectations, and somehow the hotel has managed to supersede them. With an unbeatable location, rich legacy, world-class F&B offerings, and flawless service, the hotel is one of the best ones we’ve stayed at throughout our travels — and we see ourselves coming back.
The hotel is also indeed one of the most glamorous addresses in Paris — and is a place to see and be seen for the who’s who of Paris and sophisticated travellers alike.