Review: Grande Dame - The Peninsula Paris

BY Rebecca Anne Proctor / Jun 24 2018 / 21:20 PM

A Parisian version of the acclaimed Hong Kong landmark hotel, The Peninsula Paris offers a lavishly redone take on an iconic French address

Review: Grande Dame - The Peninsula Paris
Courtesy of The Peninsula
An exquisite glass-leaf chandelier by Lasvit at the reception area in The Peninsula Paris

Since the 19th century, 19 Avenue Kleber has been a monumental Parisian address. Its history dates back to 1864 when Russian oligarch Count Basilewsky, who was enchanted by the Château de Versailles, decided to build his own castle in Paris in the same manner and at that same address. After Basilewsky, the former deposed Queen of Spain Isabella II lived out the rest of her days there until 1904. Then in 1908, the Palais, as it was called, became a “grands hotel” inaugurated by entrepreneur Leonard Tauber. Known for its innovative décor and vast, glamorous spaces, the hotel quickly became one of the most sought after destinations in town – a place where spectacular events and festivities were regularly held.

Peninsula Paris

An exterior view of the Peninsula

The hotel closed briefly during World War I and reopened when peace was declared. It’s reputation for style and glamour attracted the most important personalities of the time. In 1922, Sydney and Violet Schiff hosted “the greatest dinner party of all time” at the palace, with a guest list comprising Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Diaghilev, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Proust and James Joyce. George Gershwin composed his oeuvre “An American In Paris” while staying in 1928. On a darker note, during World War II, the hotel served as the headquarters of the German military high command in France during the Nazi occupation of Paris. In 2014, it reopened after a lengthy and costly renovation as the Peninsula in Paris.

Peninsula Paris

The cigar lounge features exclusive cigar storage cabinets for regular guests

The stories of this iconic building on Avenue Kleber continue to permeate its grand corridors and sumptuous sitting areas maintaining its reputation as one of the foremost places for a luxury stay in the City of Lights. Today walk inside and be greeted by a reception area dripping in glass leaves by Lasvit and then head to a meticulously restored Rococo salon where you can pause at leisure as you drink in the surroundings. Whisk around the hotel, with its polished marble floors, high-end boutiques and spacious hallways, and you’ll immediately feel as if you were in a palace. Asian spruces here and there in the form of contemporary and minimalist décor remind guests of the hotel’s namesake. The marvelous Neo-classical paneling, murals, mosaics, gilding of the ground-floor reception and sculpted stone façade have all been restored by skilled craftsman to retain aspects of the hotel’s former glory and heritage. New areas come in the form of rooftop terraces – where there is a delicious Chinese restaurant boasting views of the Tour Eiffel – a spa, indoor pool, car park and three levels of basement for staff quarters.

Peninsula Paris

Grand Premier Suite

Well-trained and white uniformed bellboys attend to your every wish, reminiscent of a former colonial air. The excellent staff is without doubt one of the highlights of this grand hotel; everyone is treated like a prince and princess. Each of the hotel’s spacious 200 rooms is endowed with Art Deco furnishings, elegant dark varnished wood as well as refined beige and grey details by Hong Kong decorator Henry Leung Walls evoking a sleek dim-lit 1930s setting in Shanghai. Sumptuous marble bathrooms come with a generously sized bath and double basins while the walk-in closet is akin in size to a maid’s room.

Peninsula Paris

Salle de bains chambre in the Grand Premier Suite

The Peninsula Paris is a trip back in time. It’s Great Gatsby-esque in its lavish décor and spacious hallways allowing guests the opportunity to dream, whisk back to the early 20th century and pretend, maybe just for a few days, to be an artistic personality or a guest at one Schiff’s opulent dinner parties.

Rooms from Dhs3,882.