A sumptuous 19th-century townhouse hotel in the salubrious 8th arrondisement, just steps from the Champs-Élysées
The Mayfair of Paris, the 8th arrondissement is as rich in haute couturiers as it is in must-see sights. The 57-room Hotel Lancaster is an elegant respite from the hubbub of touristy Champs-Élysées, near the Arc de Triomphe on the Right Bank. An 1889 townhouse built by a Spanish nobleman, it became a small hotel in 1925, and is now part of the boutique Hospes hotel group.
Furnished with antiques and Old Masters, the classic style seems to have barely changed since Marlene Dietrich lived here for three years in the 1930s. Crystal chandeliers, marble bathrooms and brass lamps give an old-world elegance to rooms, matched by the plush velvet seating in the small bar, where hotel guests grab light snacks or aperitifs.
After a meal in the pricey Michelin-starred restaurant – traditional French with a preponderance of rich fois gras, veal and oysters – the hotel’s top-floor gym (with views of Montmartre) might suddenly seem an appealing option. A small buffet breakfast (€38) is taken in the dining room or the small leafy courtyard.
Best room br> • The grand piano, four-person sofa and balcony in the Marlene Dietrich Suite give a taste of the lifestyle enjoyed by cinema’s Golden Age stars. Dietrich lived at the hotel for three years in the 1930s.
• Our room, 14, is a typical Deluxe, with king-sized bed, crystal chandelier, black and silver damask bedding, small white marble bathroom, plenty of wardrobe space and a Louis XVI desk.
Paris’ most exclusive fashion houses, from Chanel to Louis Vuitton, and best-known High Street brands are all within tottering distance. The décor of the hotel is classic French, with Louis XV and XVI furniture, oils and Impressionist paintings and antique clocks.
• The opulent decor evokes early 20th-century Paris, hinting at its pre-war heyday and making for a romantic getaway.
• Charming, knowledgeable – and bilingual – staff provide a warm, unstuffy welcome. Service here is of the highest standard, without the pretentiousness.
• The décor is classic but the technology modern – and the Wifi is free.
• Literally hot is the cocoa menu, with a selection of the world’s finest single-estate and blended chocolate chauds (€12 per cup), from Venezuela to Madagascar – a unique alternative to the afternoon coffee break.
• Although it’s aged well, the hotel could do with a touch of cosmetic upkeep – bedroom carpets are looking tired, wardrobe doors stick and some amenities, like the bathroom lighted mirror in our room, don’t work as they should.
• If you want hip or trendy, look elsewhere.
Jeremy Irons, Ewan McGregor, Noel Coward and Marlene Dietrich have all stayed here, thanks to its location in the heart of an area known for its high fashion and convenience to top tourist sights. It’s also Paris’ main business district, so buzzy during weekdays in particular.
FACILITIES AND ESSENTIAL INFO
Eating and drinking
• The gourmet restaurant has a Michelin star – and price tag – and serves lunch dinner every day except Saturday lunch.
• Small pets allowed.
• The small lounge bar is used by guests of the hotel and serves an array of unique cocktails – with Champs-Élysées prices (around €20-25 each), as well as an extensive hot chocolate selection.
LOCATION AND GETTING THERE
• The Arc de Triomphe is five minutes north on the Champs-Élysées, for queue-free views of the city and the Tour Eiffel, the other side of the Seine. Or head the opposite direction to reach the Musée de l’Orangerie in 20 minutes, and the Tuileries and the Louvre in half an hour. Walk instead towards the river to reach the temporary exhibitions of the Grand Palais and the Palais du Tokyo in 15 minutes.
• Shops along the Champs-Élysées, now the Oxford Street of Paris, are a mix of high-end, such as Christian Lacroix, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, along with more affordable, albeit ubiquitious, brands like Swatch, Esprit and Massimo Dutti. If you want to hit the couturiers, head to Avenue Montaigne and Foubert St Marais, a short walk from the hotel.
• Paris’ Eurostar station, Gare du Nord, is 40 minutes from the hotel, with one change, exiting at George V Metro, a five-minute walk from the hotel.
• Orly and Charles de Gaulle Airports are both around 50-60 minutes away by RER and Metro. • Nearest Metro stations are Line 1: George V or Franklin Roosevelt; and Line 9: Saint Philippe-du-Roule.
• Take the train to Paris with Eurostar (www.eurostar.com), from London King’s Cross or Ebbsfleet International in Kent.
See the article here: http://www.elleuk.com/travel/places-to-stay/hotel-lancaster