Mandarin Oriental to open Paris hotel June 28

Hong Kong hotel chain Mandarin Oriental will open its first Paris branch on June 28, it said Wednesday, the latest of several Asian firms to enter the competitive French luxury hospitality market.

The 138-room hotel is in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore in central Paris, not far from traditional French rivals such as the Meurice and the Ritz, the company said in a statement.

French tourism authorities last month launched a rare new hotel classification, crowning eight of the most chic with "palace" status, which goes beyond five stars to reward what they call "French-style excellence."

That was a bid to distinguish posh French hotel brands in the face of competition from foreign competitors such as Mandarin Oriental and another Hong Kong-based chain, Shangri-La, which opened a Paris hotel in December.

A third Asian chain, Raffles, opened Le Royal Monceau hotel in Paris in October and a fourth, Peninsula, is due to launch a Paris branch in 2012.

Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx will head the kitchen at the new Mandarin Oriental, the statement said.