In choosing a Parisian pied-a-terre, it's important to consider the neighbors. And who better than two of the world's most famous women, the Venus de Milo and the "Mona Lisa," both of whom reside across the square from the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal, the singular, five-star luxury hotel located directly opposite the Louvre alongside the Palais-Royal.
Right around the corner from Colette's erstwhile home and a short walk from Coco Chanel's original millinery shop on Rue Cambon, the 68-room hotel is nestled into an 18th-century listed mansion redesigned by architect Pierre-Yves Rochon. In tribute to the adjoining gardens of the Palais-Royal, the hotel's signature fragrance of orange blossoms wafts through the sleekly designed lobby. A grand pine tree stands guard amid soaring floral arrangements.
Originally created in the 17th century, the Palais-Royal's garden is lined with allees of lime trees and red horse-chestnuts — with a massive fan fountain at its center. The Grand Hotel du Palais Royal honors this horticultural heritage with pastoral toile de Jouy, hints of lime green and flowering plants throughout the hotel.
The Palais-Royal once belonged to Cardinal Richelieu before becoming the property of King Louis XIII and, thereafter, home to Paris' most fashionable (and scandalous) shopping arcades of the 18th century. The 21st-century iteration of those arcades includes some of the world's most exclusive boutiques as well as Le Grand Vefour, one of Paris' most celebrated restaurants, still housed in its original 18th-century premises across from Colette's residence.
A guestrooom at the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal.
Amid such illustrious neighbors, it's a pleasure to pass through the stately portals of the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal and enter into a sanctuary of Parisian elegance. The lobby's two salons are overseen by marble busts (commissioned from the Louvre's workshops) of Voltaire, Rousseau, Buffon and Diderot. At the hotel's Lounge Bar, more than 30 vintages of Champagne are available as well as signature cocktails such as the rose Champagne-based Lipstick infused with honey balsamic vinegar. Guests who sink into the comfort of a plush settee might be inclined to raise a toast to arts patron Louis XIV, engravings of whom hang from the walls.
The hotel's restaurant, Le Lulli, is named for the Italian-born French composer who spent much of his life in the court of the Sun King. Designed as a winter garden with floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the view onto a lush courtyard, the Michelin-listed restaurant is helmed by a gifted chef whose seasonal menu complements the light and breezy setting.
In the lobby, the hotel's majestic wrought-iron staircase wraps around a walk-in steamer trunk that functions as luggage storage for guests. Natural light floods the hotel's upper floors, which offer splendid views of the historic neighborhood and the Eiffel Tower.
As an homage to Parisian craftsmanship, the hotel's rooms and suites are outfitted with fabrics, drapes and wallpaper from French design houses alongside contemporary art and modern furnishings. An entrance vestibule hung with lithographs offers the illusion of entering a private residence. Marble bathrooms with pocket doors feature rain showers and toiletries by Diptyque. From a Juliet balcony, it's easy to wave toward "Mona Lisa" at her home in the Louvre.
Catering to families
The Grand Hotel du Palais Royal offers families a connecting room at a discounted rate.
For those families traveling together, the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal offers a special rate for two connecting rooms that includes breakfasts as well as a 40% discount for the children's room. Entertainment options for children include toys, scooters, PlayStations and DVD players. For babies and toddlers, housekeeping provides cribs, changing mats, bottle warmers, baby baths and high chairs. Toiletries in the children's room feature characters from Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince."
The hotel's Clefs d'Or concierge provides invaluable assistance with nearly any request. For airport transfers via Mercedes-Benz E-class sedans, Lafayette Group has been offering VIP services from its offices in Paris, Provence, the Riviera and Monaco for more than 25 years.
A member of Traveller Made and Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal is part of Les Grands Hotels Parisiens, all three of which are centrally located in Paris. Rates at the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal start at $600. See www.slh.com/hotels/grand-hotel-du-palais-royal.