When The Peninsula Hotels group decided to open its first European hotel, it set its sights on Paris. It wasn’t an obvious choice, since Paris is already packed with luxury hotels (Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris; The Ritz Paris; and Hotel Plaza Athénée Paris are among the standouts) that are as synonymous with the city as the Louvre or Eiffel Tower. Undeterred, the brand debuted The Peninsula Paris to much fanfare — it was one of our most anticipated openings of 2014. A year later, the thriving property has proved its place in the booming local hotel scene. As the property celebrates its first anniversary, our Forbes Travel Guide editors highlight what makes The Peninsula Paris so special, from its slant on modern Parisian chic to the cutting-edge technology in every room.
This late-19th-century Haussmannian building originally opened in 1908 as one of the city’s grand hotels. The Peninsula spent four years meticulously restoring the structure to its former grandeur but added its own more contemporary Parisian take. In the center of the lobby, 800 hand-blown Lasvit glass leaves hang mid-air as if a gust of wind tossed them into the space. The eye-catching installation, called Dancing Leaves, is a nod to the plane trees lining Paris’ famous boulevards, including Avenue Kléber right outside. The hotel scraped off six layers of green paint to restore the regal-looking gold and cream walls and molding in the Belle Epoque-era Lobby restaurant (there are two lobbies here). It also employed French company Ateliers Gohard, which worked on the Palace of Versailles, to adorn the property with 20,000 gold leaf pieces by hand.
A departure from the Parisian décor is found in LiLi, an upscale Cantonese restaurant with a Chinese and French opera theme. At the entrance, you can’t miss the oversized wall hanging made of nylon webbing and net fabric. It’s woven through with optical fiber, resulting in a beautiful Chinese woman who glows while peeking through a circular cutout. Inside LiLi, you’ll find a large white headdress, consisting of 32,831 crystals, as well as a dome inspired by a Shanghai stage and booth panels plastered with lace-like Chinese paper cuttings from Chinese-French dictionary pages.
The 200 rooms are more subdued than the grand public spaces, but remain elegant and chic. The spacious accommodations are bathed in gray and ivory and have hand-carved leather headboards that recall the domes of the Grand Palais, as well as high ceilings and lacquered Art Deco-influenced furniture.
Expect state-of-the-art amenities here — the gadget-savvy brand has its own secret James Bond-like tech lab in Hong Kong. All accommodations come equipped with tablets on each side of the bed and a third at the desk. The tablet, which is preset to your language (11 options available) controls everything in the room, including the TV, the drapes and room service.
Each room also has LED touch-screen wall panels that let you call the valet, check the weather, adjust the thermostat and more. You’ll also find complimentary Wi-Fi, video-on-demand and flat-screen Blu-ray 3D LED swivel televisions with Internet TV and an iPod/iPad docking station, memory card reader and sound bar with subwoofer. The hotel makes sure all of the devices are integrated in an intuitive way that requires no fumbling on your part; for example, when your room’s phone rings, the television volume automatically lowers.
The business-friendly hotel also gives you free long-distance VoIP calls and a combination fax/printer/photocopy machine that can wirelessly connect to your devices. Even the bathrooms are outfitted with hi-tech perks: There are electronic toilets, and while you soak in the inviting tub, you can use the hands-free telephone, watch TV, listen to digital radio and set mood lighting.
Even though the luxury hotel’s 16th arrondissement location already makes for a quiet setting, the spa provides an urban sanctuary. Hidden on the basement floor, the Eastern-inspired spa offers a 65-foot-by-16-foot indoor pool, two Jacuzzis, an Asian tea lounge and two fitness rooms. It also has eight treatment “booths,” each of which includes a relaxation space, a treatment booth, a changing area and a bathroom.
Among the body treatments, try the Ying Yang. Made exclusively for the spa by ESPA, it includes a warm herbal poultice made with soothing oatmeal and calming French chamomile, a stress-busting massage and a head rub with cool jade stones. The spa also partners with Biologique Recherche for facials. If your skin needs a boost, book the Caviar Integral Facial; the caviar is said to help regenerate and smooth out your complexion.
The Outdoor Spaces
Parisians love dining and drinking alfresco and the rooftop restaurant, terrace and bar L’Oiseau Blanc literally elevates that experience with views of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. (Bonus: In the summer, the rooftop space converts into a Zen spot for the 7:30 a.m. yoga and Pilates class four times a week.) The popular French-aviation-themed restaurant is more laid-back than the other dining venues here, and it serves a gourmet “bistronomique” menu, where chef Sidney Redel reinterprets traditional French fare. It celebrates the local bounty by focusing each plate on a given region. For example, a dish might feature chicken, vegetables and potatoes sourced from Normandy.
Another outdoor option is La Terrasse Kléber, one of the city’s largest covered patios. Its modern steel-and-glass canopy draws inspiration from the Eiffel Tower. Unlike the crowded cafés throughout the city, La Terrasse Kléber gives you plenty of room to spread out during afternoon tea and its cushy chairs encourage you to stay awhile.
While all of the rooms are spacious and feel like apartments, the 34 suites offer the most sumptuous spaces. If you love Paris’ terrace culture, choose the top-floor Katara Suite, a popular summer option given its private garden that has all-encompassing views of the city.
The first-floor Historic Suite is massive — it has a living room, a gazebo-like dining room with a stained-glass ceiling, a kitchen with a separate entrance for staff and two bedrooms with their own marble-filled bathrooms that offer a lovely original feature: flowery tiled bathtub backsplashes that were found during the renovations.
The hotel’s largest room is the 3,423-square-foot Peninsula Suite. The first-floor presidential suite has a reception room with a grand piano, a dining room that seats 10, an office and a spacious bedroom with two large dressing rooms and a pair of bathrooms. It’s the most coveted spot in the Paris hotel.