Nestled away on a relatively quiet street between the Arc de Triomphe and Parc Monceau is one of Paris’s grandest hotels: Le Royal Monceau. Grander still is the hotel today after Philippe Starck did a serious makeover on the property, which was completed in 2010 after a two-year renovation. Since its opening in 1928, the hotel has been a meeting place for artists and celebrities, including Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Josephine Baker, Robert De Niro, and most recently, Celine Dion. Throngs of eager fans gathered around Le Royal Monceau early this July to see the latter jet out of the property in high spirits before her London shows.
With its swanky, cool interiors, boundless art and design pieces and the quietude offered in its more subtle sitting areas, it’s not hard to see why this hotel attracts such a following among creatives. As soon as you walk through its Art Deco entrance, accompanied by sultry red lanterns, you’ll be whisked up into a Starck wonderland – albeit one that has subtly married its experimental glam with a reverence for the building’s Haussmann-era architecture and Parisian flair of its Belle Epoque interiors. Daring, a bit sensual, and certainly avant-garde à la Starck, Le Royal Monceau is the epitome of a hotel de luxe in Paris.
An exterior view of Le Royal Monceau
An ideal spot for the fashion editor, the artist, the romantic couple and even families wishing to cocoon themselves within the fantasy of a French art and design playground, this is a hotel with a personality and one, like Starck’s design, which can be both naughty and nice. Downstairs, as soon as you enter, you’ll feel the buzz of an elite cosmopolitan destination. Various public spaces, lounges, bars, restaurants, and the hotel’s wonderful book store and art gallery, provide easy access from one area to the next. Perch at the light-filled Long Bar and watch the parade of elegantly dressed guests walk by and end up in the bookstore with its endless array of glossy coffee table books and interesting design trinkets. Be sure to head down to the Clarins Spa aligned with mirrors and the largest indoor hotel swimming pool in Paris. And as you make your way up the stairs (there are several elevators close to the reception desk) to your room, you’ll become transfixed by a cascade of decadent chandeliers multiplied endlessly by surrounding mirrors.
Escalier at Le Royal Monceau
Friendly polyglot staff is ready to help you at your every beck and call. And not only with day-to-day tasks, they can also arrange an art concierge, a cultural itinerary as well as a fitness trainer. Such service enhances the magical experience of the hotel.
“A hotel is intrinsically pointless, it is just a shelter for people, who deserve our attention, generosity and consideration,” said Starck upon the hotel’s re-imagination. Art, culture, and beauty take centre stage here in ways that inspire and mesmerise. The studio room is the epitome of such creative splendour. The most intimate of the hotel’s offerings, it is designed like an artist’s studio complete with framed sketches, drawings, letters and artwork from the hotel’s private collection and even a guitar for you to strum. Bespoke hand-crafted furniture fill the space with comfort and charm, while the lavish bathroom is lined entirely in mirrors transforming the space into a true Parisian hideaway.
Suite Penthouse living room at Le Royal Monceau
For larger offerings, the hotel’s 54 suites provide a variety of options. These include individually tailored private territories of art and design – ideal spots for the world’s wanderers to stop and dream while in the City of Lights. Many have their own tales, such as Suite 714 where Ray Charles once lived, and which continues to bear his name and features photographs by Arlette Kotchounian, author of The Sun Died. And for those who wish to continue the dream on a permanent basis there are also 10 private apartments providing the hotel’s services with the advantages of a private dwelling and designed in Le Royal Monceau’s riveting style.
Art and culture is at the heart of this historic hotel, and it has married its artistic aims like no other hotel in the city. For example, the Art District gallery is Le Royal Monceau’s in-house art gallery providing a hub for artistic and cultural gatherings. Currently on view is Love Paris by French-Tunisian artist eL Seed. On view until 26 August, the exhibition tells the story of an artistic declaration of love through eL Seed’s colourful calligraffiti artworks.
Art District at Le Royal Monceau
In the evening you’ll spot fashionably dressed non-hotel guests arrive to enjoy one of Le Royal Monceau’s two restaurants or drinks at the Long Bar. There’s also a members-only red Fumoir for cigar lovers. The hotel’s two restaurants – Hans Zahner’s La Cuisine featuring French fare and Il Carpaccio, located in a grotto-style trattoria boasting Tuscan specialties by Roberto Rispoli – have each gained one Michelin star. For those traveling with families, fear not – the hotel provides children’s menus, special art and cookery workshops as well as films in the cinema.
A stay at Le Royal Monceau is a magical Parisian affair. The ambiance gives air to a stately and grand quality – elements I felt as I stayed there this July during Haute Couture Week. What easily transfixes guests is the wonderful way that Starck has managed to merge his contemporary edge with the hotel’s neoclassical architecture and Parisian early twentieth-century glam. It’s hard not to be inspired when stationed amidst the hotel’s evocative interiors; you’re prompted to pick up a pen and write or sketch just like the many artists and intellectuals who once stayed here. Perhaps it is this je ne sais quoi spirit that happily merges the elegance, creativity, and authenticity that has become so unmistakably Parisian. Stay here and you’ll still feel the pulse from the roaring Twenties – the critical acumen that continues to enliven this utterly addictive Parisian retreat.
Rooms from Dhs3,368 per night. For more information, visit Leroyalmonceau.com