Plaza Athénée, a bold and courageous statement for the next 100 years

The Palace ranked Parisian hotel celebrated its 100 year birthday in 2013 and 2014 has been the year for redefining the next 100 years of Plaza Athénée, once of the legendary luxury hotels of the French capital. Following 8 months of closure, the hotel reopened this August with a wealth of novelties such as: brand new and completely redesigned bar, restaurant and lobby entrance, as well as the addition of rooms and suites in the new wing of the hotel, bringing the total room count to 203.

Upon my arrival I could hardly recognize the lobby entrance which has been beautifully redone, brighether and fresh flower installations attached in stainless steel art-work vases onto each column in a round circle. The entrance leads onto the newly redesigned Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee Restaurant, which now has wooden top tables, and stainless steel alcoves around some of the tables, exquisitely reflecting the large flowing of Swarovski crystals which hang from the entire ceiling. Once it opens this September, the restaurant will specialize on fish and vegetable dishes. Unfortunately, at the time of my stay neither the Restaurant nor the Spa & Gym (Institut Dior) were open, so I could not review either of the two.

The bar is probably the boldest statement in terms of interior design, with a blend of sleek, ultra-modern furnishings dominated by black leather chairs and couches and sun-flower like standing lighting fixtures. The walls of the original bar have been maintained and can be seen, in part, against the backdrop of the modern new panels.

The bar introduced some other innovations such as the possibility to order direct from your smartphone, once you scan the CR code on the glass pad, as well as special glasses which one cannot tell from a distance whether they contain a small, large or medium cocktail. The bartender, tells me the place has already caught up with Parisians and hotel guests alike who come and have a drink before their night outings.

‘La Cour’ (courtyard) has been untouched and remains a favorite venue for lunch and dinner (weather permitting). More surprises are yet to come such as a renovated ‘Le Relais Plaza’, the French Art-Deco style bistro, on the corner of the hotel, which is due to open this Fall, aiming to become a hot spot for the luxury shooping colony of Avenue Montaigne, which has seen many new top luxury store openings this year (Chanel, Fendi, Loewe etc), with a new Maison Louis Vuitton due to reopen after extensive renovations this December, a few steps from the hotel.

And indeeed, the hotel is at the very heart of Paris’ hottest luxury shopping destination which is Avenue Montaigne, also home to the maison Christian Dior – the couture ateliers, offices and no less than 5 stores. For lunch and afternoon tea, the lobby turns into a catwalk with the most sophisticated and elegant female guests, sporting the latest luxury fashions.

The new rooms and suites in the new wing of the hotel follow the same patterns and style of the rest of the hotel, with a Parisian ‘appartement’ feel, the utmost attention being paid to comfort and the quality of materials and finishes. There are several colour schemes, which provide for a wider choice for guests wishing to experience the ‘new’ Plaza Athénée.

Unfortunately, probably due to the increase of the room count but also the amount of interest the reopening has generated, service has been rather impersonal throughout my entire stay, few of the staff knowing guests by their names, unless one would be a long time patron.

Therefore, I felt, in a way, ‘excluded’ from the attention given to hotel patrons. Even when having a coffee, on my second day in La Galerie, I was asked my room number, which, for a hotel of this calibre, I am sure the management will be working to fix. Otherwise, service is fast, responsive and intuitive. One of the details you will love is the selection of freshly baked Viennoiserie (pastries) by master pastrycook Christopher Michalak.

Other challenges I faced during my stay were related to technology – as it is an old building, it took a few hours to fix the air-conditioning and set it on a comfortable temperature, but also the Ipads in the room where I used the room service order feature, which never arrived. I was later told it must have been my fault for opting for the wrong delivery time.

Suprisingly, my room, a Junior Suite which otherwise forms part of the large Royal Suite on the 6th floor (at 430 sqm, the largest 4 bedroom suite in Paris), had the largest TV (B&O), which made me feel I was watching cinema. Beds are sublime and so are the satin cotton linen, thick towels, selection of pillows and the White Tea bespoke bathroom amenities. All bathrooms are large, made in marble, with separate showers and bathtubs. I also enjoyed a large working desk and the complimentary high speed wi-fi. Housekeeping service is faultless!

A dedicated photo gallery is available on our Facebook page and a video preview of the Junior Suite can be watched here.

Oliver Petcu in Paris

Newly redesigned ‘Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee’ Restaurant