Like many of Paris’ greater hotels, the Peninsula has history. Built in the 19th century as a palace for a Russian nobleman, it later opened as the Hotel Majestic and served as a military hospital during WWI. During the Nazi occupation of France, it was chosen to act as the headquarters for the German military high command. After a brief tenure as the home of UNESCO, then the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it reopened as a hotel in 2014.
Today, 200 rooms (and 86 suites) inspired by Paris’ legendary haute couture serve some of Paris’ glitziest and most glamorous visitors. Inside, it’s pure luxury: lengthy corridors spread out from a spacious lobby further into the function rooms, restaurants, spas and other amenities the hotel offers. At its lowest level, the hotel actually feels more like your typical trendy 16th arrondissement shopping promenade.
If you’re after a comparison, it’d probably be fair to compare the Peninsula with the most high-class of London’s hotels—up there with the Dorchester, the Ritz and the Savoy. Except, y’know, in Paris. So better.
They ain’t cheap, but they’re damn good. The most affordable fare, the superior rooms, are sleek, bright and probably just a little too tight for the price, if we’re being honest. Move further up and that changes, big time. Even the junior suite is a spectacular room, spacious as any you’ll find in the city (the inclusion of an actual dressing room being a particularly nice surprise) and chock-full of amenities.
The larger suites, such as the rooftop garden suite (which offers a view quite unlike any other), the historic suite and the Peninsula suite, probably comprise some of the finest hotel rooms in the world. No exaggeration.
Some good choice, here. L’Oiseau Blanc is the hotel’s rooftop restaurant, and offers high-end dining with a stunning view of the city and the Eiffel Tower. We ate in Le Lobby, the hotel’s downstairs restaurant, which was intimate, friendly and surprisingly quiet on a weekday evening.
If it’s proper Parisian fanciness you’re after, we’d suggest L’Oiseau Blanc. If you’re wanting to hide away a little, however, shoot for Le Lobby. It’s more than a little decent.
Who goes there?
We visited in the midst of Paris’ fashion week, so all we can offer here is—well, fashionistas. No matter when you’re staying, however, the Peninsula has a bit of a reputation for its extravagance and splendour, so expect to find no shortage of celebs, businessmen and wealthy tourists milling about in the lobby, restaurants and spa.
Out and about:
The Peninsula is situated a literal stone’s throw away from the Arc de Triomphe, in the heart of Paris’ 16th arrondissement. Frankly, the 16th arr tends to be a little dry if you’re after anything other than expensive shopping and fine dining, so you’re probably better off hopping onto the Metro and going to basically anywhere else.
The worst thing:
It’s a really, really spectacular hotel, but it occasionally feels a little like ‘spectacular’ is pretty much the entire design scheme. Don’t go to the Peninsula expecting anything chic or flamboyant as far as the décor goes. Even the finer rooms could do with a splash more colour. It’ll make you go ‘wow’, but it probably won’t make you ‘ooh’.
The best thing:
Want to feel like royalty? There’s probably nowhere better to go. Everything about the Peninsula is so utterly geared towards making you feel like you were born into pure luxury, and at no point in the experience do you ever feel anything other than utterly pampered. If you want to visit Hollywood’s version of Paris—so lavish and majestic that your jaw will drop (and stay dropped)—give the Peninsula a go. You won’t be disappointed.