WHEN YOU ask people to recommend somewhere to stay in Paris, they usually, and wisely, suggest a little place that they know in somewhere like St Germain. Wise, because if you stay there you are in the thick of it, with all the hip shops and restaurants within easy reach.

However, there is another sort of Paris hotel, the pricier, grander, even slightly formal hotel that is located around the Champs Elysees. Stay here and you'll need to catch the occasional cab, you'll be surrounded by a mixture of cheap shops and old money, but will fall in love with the idea of hotel living.

One of these is the Lancaster, where Marlene Dietrich got so used to the idea of hotel living that she stayed for three years (Dirk Bogarde also lived here in the Sixties).

Set in a turn-of-the-century townhouse (it became a hotel in 1925), the Lancaster has been renovated with extraordinary taste, mixing 17th and 18th century antiques and old paintings with modern, colourful objects and fabrics. At the heart of the hotel is a stunning, if small, enclosed garden - great in the summer - and looking out on to this is the breakfast room and bar.

There are also studies where you can sit quietly to read Le Monde. The lighting throughout the hotel is dim but is not gloomy, just calming. The staff are ridiculously welcoming, the service full on. In short, it's a real find.


The Lancaster is at 7 rue de Berri, Champs Elysees in the 8th arrondisement (01 40 76 40 76, fax: 01 40 76 40 00/10).

Transport: The hotel is in a side street off the Champs Elysees and just minutes from the Arc de Triomphe. The nearest Metro station is George V. However, as soon as you leave the hotel you are tempted to walk for just a little while - and then end up schlepping miles. The concierge will organise taxis or a limousine for the foot sore. From hotel to Eurostar: all depends on dreaded Paris traffic, but 20 minutes to half an hour is usually adequate to get you to or from the Gare du Nord. It can, however, take an hour on a Friday night.


The rooms are grand. Deep carpets, and thick curtains that cut out the sound of the Paris traffic.

Beds: Enormous. And the linen is fantastically crisp (makes you wonder whether it isn't wise to start ironing your sheets at home, but then you remember you've got a horrid duvet). Lovely pillows. Tempting to spend your stay in bed.

Freebies: Great treats await you in the bathroom: tastefully packaged shampoos and cute soap cubes in gold boxes (which saves on a few gifts).

Temperature: When we stayed, on a particularly chilly weekend, we found the rooms a little warm and were forced to open a window at night! Oh, how you suffer for glamour.

Bathroom: Powerful shower, large bath tubs, plenty of mirrors to make sure you're not looking too wretched to go down to breakfast.

Oh, and bidets, of course.


TV: Television with international stations and a video recorder too. So perhaps you could just spend your holiday in bed after all. Phone/fax/internet: Phones, modem points, etc.


All this loveliness certainly doesn't come cheap. Single rooms are from Ff1,650 (pounds 170), doubles from Ff2,350 (pounds 245), suites Ff3,000 (pounds 315) to Ff10,000 (pounds 1,050), and breakfast is an additional Ff120 (pounds 13, or free if you stay in a suite). Plus you'll be tempted to have drinks in the bar and dinner in your room. Bring a credit card or two.