History or charm? What are you hoping to find when looking for a luxury hotel? What can mesmerise you? Perhaps, both the classical allure and the first-class grace of it?
Half of the French Palaces are located in the heart of France, Paris, and the other half is spread all over the French countryside. All of them manufacture a universe that you are welcomed to join any day now, just don’t forget your luggage.
The 2015 all-inclusive list with the all-inclusive hotels
Just before you pack your bags, make sure you double-check that the hotel you’re about to go to comes with the right label. Since 2010, in France, the greatest 5-star hotels begun to be awarded with the “Palace” appellation. However, the list of French Palaces is very limited, because many are called, few are chosen. In addition to exclusive services, hospitality and quality must exceed any expectations, overall. These hotels tick off 200 requirements along with:
- a multilingual personnel;
- a SPA service;
- various room sizes (from the smallest to the largest ones);
- a powerful connection between history and brand image.
Choose the Palace that makes your heart beat faster. You have the entire 2015 selection here, with their relevant addresses:
- The Bristol Hotel, 112 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré (75008 Paris);
- Four Seasons George V, 31 Avenue George V (75008 Paris);
- The Mandarin Oriental, 251 Rue Saint Honoré (75001 Paris);
- Le Meurice, 228 Rue de Rivoli (75001 Paris);
- The Park Hyatt, 5 Rue de la Paix (75002 Paris);
- Plaza Athénée, 25 Avenue Montaigne (75008 Paris);
- The Ritz, 15 Place Vendôme (75001 Paris) – under construction;
- Le Royal Monceau, 37 Avenue Hoche (75008 Paris);
- The Shangri-la, 10 Avenue d’Iéna (75116 Paris);
- The Cheval Blanc, Jardin Alpin 73120 Saint-Bon-Tarentaise (Courchevel);
- Les Airelles, rue du Jardin Alpin, 73120 Saint-Bon-Tarentaise (Courchevel);
- Le K2, rue des Clarines, 73120 Saint-Bon-Tarentaise (Courchevel);
- The Hôtel du Palais, 1 Avenue de l’Impératrice (64200 Biarritz);
- The Hôtel la Réserve, Chemin de la Quessine (83350 Ramatuelle);
- The Grand Hôtel Cap-Ferrat, 71 Boulevard du Général de Gaulle (06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat);
- The Château de la Messardière, 2 Route de Tahiti (83990 Saint-Tropez);
- Hôtel de Byblos, 20 Avenue Paul Signac (83990 Saint-Tropez).
The Parisian world of Palaces
Travelling back in time
With 180 years of experience, Le Meurice’s façade watches over The Tuileries Gardens. In days of yore, it opened its arms to notable personalities that today embroider his mythology. Salvador Dali gave his name to the restaurant and jazzed up the walls with a cheetah painting whose claws polish the suite. The famous poet Léon-Paul Fargue was also a frequent visitor of the Le Meurice.
In 2007, the reception area of this French Palace was redecorated by Philippe Starck who drove everything into a chic, authentic atmosphere. The tables exhale authenticity and droplets of finesse, and the 3-star chef, Alain Ducasse, brings strong value to this luxury hotel.
Spoiling your hair with Christophe Robin’s dexterity would be another exceptional service. Claudia Schiffer, Carla Bruni, Catherine Deneuve and even Kristin Scott Thomas have only great things to say about him.
Le George V
If you are a Champs-Elysées aristocratic globe-trotter, then have a rest at the art deco Four Season George V hotel. The vintage interior inspirations accompany you from the 17th Century till the 19th one. The trompe-l’œil techniques used to paint the walls surrounding the pool area will invite you to take a mental promenade in the gardens of Versailles.
It didn’t take more than 2 years for the George V restaurant to receive 2 Michelin stars. Christian Squer is the sous chef of the kitchen, and Lucien Gautier supervises all things pastry: deserts served in an impeccable manner. Compliments on the house.
Since its 1898 opening, The Ritz was a strong endorser of the art of the festival. Characterised by The Roaring Twenties spirit, the hotel welcomed Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda who invited along Ernest Hemingway afterwards. The Imperial Suite is ideal if you are ready to get behind the wheels of a time-machine to sleep in Marie Antoinette’s bedroom from Versailles.
Up until the end of 2015, the hotel will be under construction, but it promises an astounding experience worth bragging about. Soon enough.
Le Plaza Athénée
This young centenary showcases its balconies spruced up with red geraniums and something even more important: Christian Dior’s presence, and Michael Jackson’s passion for balloon-decorated suites.
Having a 2-Michelin star restaurant, this French Palace has Alain Ducasse as a chef and contributor to the hotel’s reputation.
At Plaza Athénée, you can surrender to your guilty pleasures and discover the taste of Michalak. The French master pâtissier, Christophe Michalak, combines essential and original inventions to impress visitors during their tea time, in Paris.
The Dior Spa Center offers each client a complete and personalised diagnosis, focusing on their well-being. Best care is the fundamental objective here. Parents and children will receive not only the same attention from the hotel’s staff, but customised gifts and inter-connecting rooms, as well.
Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris
Suites are decorated with a private collection of works of art. Ray Charles portraits made by Arlette Kotchounian are displayed for everyone to admire. An exclusive exhibition of art, openings and auctions are open to public regularly. This is only a petit sample of what Le Royal Monceau Raflles can broadcast.
In 2014, this Parisian mansion was granted with the “Best Breakfast Hotel in Europe” recognition, an award signed by Le Prix Villégiature. Pierre Hermé creations are prepared on-site. Daily. You can choose to watch your movie at the Royal Monceau Ciné club whilst trying out the Hermé’s popcorn flavours.
Based in Paris for over 90 years now, Le Bristol was polished up by six of the best French workers. You’ll find the details of the temple embellished with marble, precious wood and original artwork. Didier Le Calvez was recently voted the best hotel manager in the world, an honour he shared with all of his team.
Timeless, yet constantly original, Le Bristol knows how to make the most out of the French romance: it’s the ideal landscape for a honeymoon. The Palace’s restaurant, L’Epicure, has 3 Michelin stars and it is famous also for training many soon-to-be gastronomic talents.
The Mandarin Oriental
Praised by many celebrities like Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey or Sophie Marceau, The Mandarin Oriental is an oasis of serenity located in the heart of Paris. With extremely spacious rooms, the Palace inherits a history that started to be written more than 50 years ago in Honk Kong, and then slightly moved towards an art deco style.
Here you can lose yourself in one of the largest spas in the city: two floors of 900 m2 sprinkled with leisure and quietness. In this peaceful sanctuary, you will have personalised treatments developed by specialists with a vast experience in practising the Chinese medicine. Over 90 minutes of soft facial massages with Guerlain products will be followed by a light body massage we all need once in a while.
At the restaurant, customers can opt for a Thierry Marx cuisine with Asian influences.
The Shangri-La hotel mixes Asian hospitality with royal treatments. The staff’s discretion and the stunning views of The Eiffel Tower will make you proud of the decision you made by coming here.
The hotel’s pool is caressed by natural light that awakens senses you’ve never felt before. You’ll be invited in a mythological and oriental universe in no time. And time will disappear.
Our last recommended luxury hotel, The Peninsula, has the Hotel Majestic, the headquarters of UNESCO from Kleber Avenue, as the main ancestor.
Despite its very neo-classical French charisma, bits of the Asian identity can be found in this hotel‘s memoirs: for example, The Peace of Vietnam was signed there in 1973, and the Cantonese cuisine has an important saying in everything related to The Peninsula’s inheritance.
Given all its top-notch services, this hotel could soon be wearing the “Palace” label.
The one-of-a-kind Park Hyatt Vendôme
This luxurious exemplar is less concerned about megalomania as the others are. But this doesn’t mean that its services are to be ignored.
The Park Hyatt is definitely one to consider for a complete delivery assistance. The In-Suite Shopping service will provide you a professional assistant, designer and jeweller. The romantic Parisian Dream can be fulfilled if you trust yourself in the hands of experts: dress and accessory-wise.
The hotel has partnered with the Kure Bazaar nail brand and opened together a salon in the 601 number suite. There, an impeccable manicure is the guide-line, and all the other rooms are under the strict surveillance of important artworks.
Hotels outside of Paris
The wintry options
The slopes, the tracks, the three Courchevel Palaces have leisure, comfort and first-rate services in their elegant valise.
Le Cheval Blanc
Ski resort hotels are specialised in assisting visitors in their activities. At Cheval Blanc, customers will be always taken care of: the shoes can be heated, tailored activities may be put at disposal, and then some.
The magical atmosphere is charged up on a permanent basis. The clients can opt for personal carriages to use in order to travel all across the ski resort. Relaxing moments are to be found at The White Horse Spa, a highly regarded Guerlain universe: clients will be honoured by the exceptional Orchidée Impériale treatment, in a pastel coloured lounge.
Once you enter the Palace’s restaurant you enter the 1947 period as well.
Le K2 reminds the viewer about the audacious peaks of Karakoram, from the Northern Pakistan. Le K2 is the Asian real of the resort, the little brother of hotel Kilimandjaro in Courchevel.
A calm and hidden haven, the K2 gym is equipped with the latest generation of fitness facilities: a bicycle that simulates your way up to the highest Alpine peaks. For a program or a personalised advice, a professional coach is always near-by to help.
In the moment you get outside the hotel, you have an individual ski lift happy to put the largest ski area in the world at your feet. After an entire day of sport activities, the Winston Klub K2 allures you to end your day in the smoking room by lighting up an aromatic cigar. Enjoying a rare, but precious liquor of your choice, sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
Being one of the most festive Palaces in Courchevel, Les Airelles is the master of welcoming its guests in a cosy and friendly way. The fireplaces sew a homey feeling, and the diverse themed nights organised throughout out the year (New Year’s Eve, Carnivals, Easter and so on) are strong supporters of this formula.
Skiing is available at only 50 meters away from the hotel. All the necessary things are done to make you love winter even more: professional skiers and skaters can be asked for advice at any times.
However, the warm interior of this luxurious castle is less bright and spacious than of its neighbours. This can be as well an advantage, but a disadvantage altogether.
The summery alternatives
La Côte d’Azur, the charming French Riviera, is home to great hotels in Cannes, Nice or Antibes. But neither the prestigious 5-star castles such as Eden Roc, The Carlton or Negresco aren’t granted with the “Palace” label. In order to visit the ones that have, we must go to Saint-Tropez, Ramatuelle, Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat, or check out the Biarritz for the Atlantic slopes.
Named after the one of the oldest cities in the world, Bylos was very ambitious and wanted to be a Palace worthy of 1001 exquisite nights on the Mediterranean seaside. This project was signed by Jean-Prosper Gay-Para, an architect eager to build a palace for Brigitte Bardot.
At The Byblos you will be enchanted by Alain Ducasse’s cuisine which plays with French and Italian traditions, by experienced yacht skippers and on-board permanent assistance.
Only a few meters away from the hotel, La Capilla villa is accessible for all those in love with perfect concierge services, cooking and housekeeping at its bets. The hotel’s spa hallway is a sophisticated affair since each stone was brought from a Palace from Beirut, and all the drawings represent authentic Lebanese inspirations.
This Palace based in Ramatuelle offers a unique landscape made to make romantic wanderers fall in love with each other. Intimate, sublime and a bit underestimated, La Réserve is the definition of luxury, the synonym of undomesticated, the translation of wild symmetry.
You can hear the cicada’s morning hymn from any of the 12 villas put at your disposal. Each has a private pool and a butler who will assist you in organising your daily activities and shopping plans. Also, the hotel’s services will be available for you even if you choose to book a villa. La Réserve has a peculiar asset others lack: vegetable seeds are selected from Italian producers for fruits and vegetables with southern colours. Nonetheless, guests can enjoy a mouthwatering dinner at the La Voile restaurant.
La Château de la Messardière
La Château de la Messardiere is the perfect place for you to organise a reception or a wedding. Decorations, made-to-measure services are there to satisfy your needs. The Valmont Spa will give you a hard time choosing a treatment, since all of them are magical. Four rooms are dedicated for massages only: spoil your feet, hands, face and body.
In the spring of 2015, the Palace has collaborated with the Harcourt Studio from Paris to display black and white movies.
The Grand Hôtel Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Always up-to-date with its clients’ wishes, this hotel offers stunning views of the sea. It was the first hotel on the French Riviera to receive the “Palace” appellation and it is often awarded with the “Best Palace of the World” prize, given by the Hotel & Lodge magazine (2012).
In addition to traditional concierge services (airport pick-ups and transfers, babysitting, car rental and airfare), the Grand Hôtel is home to the jewelry store where the Arije jewels are presented as exclusive and limited editions of the house. The Palace’s park extends till the cliffs of Cap Ferrat, and go way down, near the seaside.
The Hôtel du Palais
A veritable echo of the Belle Epoque, the Hôtel du Palais from Biarritz, is 10 minutes away from the airport. Decorated with Carrara marble and Murano glasses, this was the summer residence of the Empress Eugenie and Napoleon III, but the hotel’s suites have also welcomed Charlie Chaplin and Ernest Hemingway. In this historical setting, the crafts are highlighted by works of art found on site.
The restaurant, La Rotonde, is an ode to the Basque gastronomy and those 3 000 m2 are a praise for beauty and relaxation promoted by the spa, sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and the heated pool. You are more than welcomed to explore the capital of European surfing. Jet skiing, kite-surfing or the stand-up paddle? What do you fancy first?
Personalised till the last bit, these French Palaces are few and far between, but their services are anything but. So, have you made up your mind yet?