1. A Left Bank location in the heart of Paris
Since Hotel Lutetia first opened in 1910, the grand hotel has lured the city’s beau monde (fashionable set) for cocktails and conversation. Over the years, this first luxury hotel on the Left Bank has welcomed famous personalities such as James Joyce, Joséphine Baker and Pablo Picasso. Facing the legendary Le Bon Marché department store, the Lutetia is an anchor of the vibrant Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter and is Parisian to the core (it derives its name from the ancient Roman moniker for the capital).
The views of the bustling cityscape are particularly fabulous from guest room balconies on the upper floors, from where you can see Le Bon Marché glowing against a sparkling Eiffel Tower backdrop. Alternatively, admire the window views from your bathtub, hewn from a single two-tonne block of Calacatta marble.
2. A focus on fitness
At Lutetia’s well-equipped gym, illuminated with natural light, trainer Sylvain Guillemaud will help you keep up with your fitness regime or devise a personalised wellness programme to follow at home (the hotel can also create detox menus to match). Join a yoga, boxing or abs class, and if you tire of the treadmill, Guillemaud can propose a run along the Seine or an outdoor workout in the nearby Luxembourg Gardens.
3. A stunning bijou of a spa
Back in the day, the Lutetia had a gorgeous Art Deco swimming pool, which was later transformed into the flagship Hermès boutique next door. How to top that architectural feat? Excavate 20 metres underground to build a new spa, decked out in acres of gold-veined marble, complete with a sigh-worthy swimming pool. The 17m pool and circuit of wet facilities is the centrepiece of the Akasha holistic well-being centre.
Channelling an approach based on the four elements (earth, fire, water and air), the spa works with top brands Aromatherapy Associates, Carita and Cellcosmet and Cellmen. This isn’t just an oasis for women; men can take advantage of Swiss brand Cellmen’s innovative range of products devoted to men’s skin, as well as partake in the barber service or a manicure by Kure Bazaar.
4. A Herculean restoration by an award-winning architect
It required more than four years of work and a price tag of €200m to renovate the hotel nicknamed “the paquebot (ocean liner) of the Left Bank”. Luxury hospitality group The Set Hotels recruited in-demand architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte to work his magic. Wilmotte’s winning design brief? Respect the Lutetia’s historic heritage while letting in the light.
Behind the elaborately sculpted Art Nouveau façade, the entire hotel was gutted and rebuilt, including a new courtyard patio that allows natural daylight to bathe the interiors. Wilmotte pays homage to Paris in the details, including a patio wall designed with city metro tiles – marvellous mosaics of the Paris emblem (a ship tossed by waves).
5. A buzzing bar and fine food à la Française
The beating heart of the hotel is the bar named for Joséphine Baker. During the renovation, a monumental fresco was discovered here under six coats of paint – then painstakingly restored by top artisans. Bar Joséphine is lively day and night, drawing the crowds for live piano music and people-watching. At apéritif time, try the Rive Gauche cocktail made with Guillotine vodka, St-Germain liqueur, champagne and citrus- and celery-flavoured shrub syrup.
The hotel’s brasserie will soon open under the auspices of Gérald Passedat, the chef at the helm of three-Michelin-starred Le Petit Nice in Marseille.
This article was originally published in the March 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine