Amazing Peninsula Paris

A Hong Kong vision of Parisian luxury, lavishly redone with vast corridors, a reception dripping with glass leaves, panelled bar and meticulously restored rococo salon. A Chinese restaurant contrasts with a rooftop French restaurant and terrace. The 200 rooms, combining comfort and technology, are very spacious.

Location

Originally opened as the Majestic hotel in 1908, briefly the seat of Unesco and later an international congress centre, the Peninsula Paris occupies an entire block near the Arc de Triomphe, and is still doing its best to persuade you it is really Versailles. The Champs-Elysées is around the corner and the avenue Montaigne couture stores are a breeze in the Peninsula’s own 1934 vintage Rolls Royce or customised Mini Clubman.

Style & character

This is high-shine hotellery with polished marble floors, a glass leaf chandelier that floats in the reception area, high-end boutiques and vast hallways, it’s very lavish and just a tad chilly – and if it’s small for an Asian hotel it’s a giant by Parisian standards, boastfully promising “to set new standards for design, luxury and comfort”, which the group compares to the quality of a luxury yacht. The sculpted stone facade and neo-classical panelling, mosaics, murals and gilding of ground-floor reception rooms have been meticulously restored by skilled craftsmen, new spaces opened up, roof terraces created, and three levels of basement excavated for staff quarters, spa, indoor pool and car park. White uniformed bellboys in sailor hats add a faintly colonial air.

Service & facilities

With more than 500 staff there’s plenty of it, but it still needs a little fine tuning. Breakfast staff brought viennoiseries rather than the baguette we had asked for; a maid was already cleaning our room, despite the fact we were checking out, when we got back.

  • Bar
  • Fitness centre
  • Laundry
  • Parking
  • Pool
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Sauna
  • Spa
  • Steam room/hammam
  • Wi-Fi

Rooms

The 200 rooms and suites go from large to positively huge. Our suite was bigger than my Paris flat. A geometrical Art Deco of dark varnished wood and tasteful greys and beige by Hong Kong decorator Henry Leung Walls seems to hark back more to 1930s Shanghai than generic Paris: calm comfortable but, dare I say it, just a little bit dull. Still it was the bathroom that won me over, a black and white marble rotunda with sumptuous bath, double basins, the inevitable Toto loo, and a walk-through dressing room with that must-have nail-varnish dryer (how have I done without one for all these years?). And should you worry that it’s all just period polish, the rooms conceal a feast of 21st-century technology, with endless cabling and a sophisticated domotic system.

Tactile tablets and wall panels control lighting, heating, curtains, TV and anything else you might think of in a choice of 11 languages. It’s happily easy to use, though you can’t help occasionally wishing for something as old-fashioned as a light switch or a piece of paper telling you where and when breakfast is served, rather than scrolling down through screen after screen. It’s almost a surprise that you have to physically open the doors that conceal the televisions (plural). This is understated rather than ostentatious luxury: space, perfect soundproofing, excellent beds, and if you want to be left alone, a “valet box” hatch for avoiding the outside world in total discretion.

Food & drink

With six bars and restaurants, under executive chef Jean-Edern Hurstel, discovered on France’s Top Chef TV competition after a career in the UAE, there’s plenty of choice. The 6th-floor panoramic French gastronomic restaurant L’Oiseau Bleu, named after an early French biplane, has been gaining plaudits. The Cantonese restaurant LiLi, with its Chinese opera decor of lacquer and carved wood, varies between very good and dishes you’d find at any takeaway and staff need to be more clued up in advising what to order, the best approach seems to be to go for the more unusual sounding offerings. The Oak-panelled Bar Kléber is a comfortable cocktail haunt. The Lobby Kléber – the impeccably restored original white and gold neo-classical hotel dining room – serves breakfast (classic, healthy or Hong Kong), all-day international dining and afternoon tea, while its Terrace Kléber extension is for fine-weather people-watching under a striking modern glass and steel marquise.

Value for money

Double rooms from €795 (£625), including breakfast. Free Wi-Fi. The Peninsula is aiming at the high end of high (the Peninsula Suite costs from €25,000/£19,600).

Access for guests with disabilities?

Yes.

Family-friendly?

Yes, there were a surprising number of families with children when we had breakfast.

 19 avenue Kleber, Paris, 75116, France.

0033 1 58 12 28 88 

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