There has been a lot of buzz lately about Paris's luxury hotel scene, but no opening has been more keenly anticipated than this summer's arrival on Avenue Kléber of The Peninsula Paris.
For four years, skilled craftsmen, many borrowed from the Louvre or Versailles, have been renovating the 19th-century building. They have restored "fish scale" slate roof tiles, applied 40,000 pieces of gold leaf and preserved corners where history was made.
George Gershwin wrote An American in Paris here; and the Paris Peace Accords, which hastened the end of the Vietnam War, were signed in the Kléber Bar in 1973 – when the building was part of France's foreign ministry.
The hotel's French heritage and Peninsula personality have been woven together well; in the Chinese restaurant, LiLi, traditional paper-cut panels are based on pages from French-Chinese dictionaries. The restaurant's decor pays homage to French and Chinese opera; soak it up with your eyes and order chef Tang's Peking duck for your stomach.
No less impressive is the roof-top gourmet restaurant, L'Oiseau Blanc. It commemorates a biplane, The White Bird, which vanished in 1927 while attempting the first Paris-to-New York flight. The restaurant has a restored 1927 Levasseur engine as its centrepiece and a replica of the aircraft hanging in its courtyard. The sky theme continues with the linen and tableware – all featuring clouds. The accent on art and design is evident in the lobby, where a bespoke chandelier of 800 hand-blown crystal "dancing leaves" dominates, a reference, repeated throughout, to the plane trees lining Avenue Kléber. Beneath this lies the spa, a 20-metre pool and a relaxation room.
The hotel sits in the elegant 16th arrondissement, just steps away from the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysées. From the Gare du Nord, access is tricky by Métro, requiring a couple of changes –though Etoile station, five minutes' walk away, has more choice. Turning left out of the main entrance brings you to Avenue Kléber and the Trocadéro. From here, head along Avenue du Président Wilson where you can dip into the excellent National Museum of Asiatic Art Guimet. Serious shoppers can head up Avenue Montaigne.
The 200 rooms, including 34 suites, are among the largest in Paris. The cheapest category, a superior room, measures 35 square metres, while the largest suite is 318 square metres. Five of the suites come with their own rooftop garden. Each bedroom offers a dressing area with a valet box for pick-up and delivery of dry cleaning or newspapers, and the Peninsula's signature nail dryer. Bathrooms clad in marble offer mood lights and television screens by the bath. There is a generously sized rain shower and amenities by Oscar de la Renta.
Bedrooms are in a palette of soft grey and creams, in silk and leather and light and dark woods. Bedside and desktop iPads allow easy access to everything from menus to light switches. Mini-bar contents (all non-alcoholic) are complimentary as are coffee (Nespresso) and tea facilities. Wi-fi is free.
The Peninsula, 19 Avenue Kléber, 75116 Paris, France; 00 33 1 58 12 28 88; paris.peninsula.com
Double rooms start at €795, excluding breakfast.Reuse content