Part of the luxury Dorchester Collection, Le Meurice has been a Parisian institution for nearly 200 years, welcoming everyone from Queen Victoria to Beyoncé. Its central location, lavish décor and world-famous pastries make it well worth the splurge for an extra-special city break, says Siobhan Grogan.
Historical Opulence: Le Meurice, Paris – Hotel Review
There is no better location in Paris. Overlooking the Tuileries gardens and the Louvre, the hotel is directly on Rue de Rivoli, now a tranquil cycle route rather than a traffic-clogged thoroughfare since the city’s mayor banned cars from using it. Place Vendôme, the Champs-Élysées and high-end shopping on Rue Saint-Honoré are all within strolling distance.
Opened in 1835, Le Meurice was one of the world’s first luxury hotels and it’s every bit as magnificent today. Walking through the grand revolving door is like entering another world, resplendent with glittering chandeliers, 19th century cornicing, mosaic floors and oversized Versailles-style portraits. Modern artwork, pricey Eero Saarinen Tulip chairs and witty sculptures come courtesy of famed French designer Philippe Starck, who renovated the hotel in 2016.
Once a home-from-home for Salvador Dali, Le Meurice continues to foster links with the art world and awards its own annual contemporary art prize each year. Other famous guests over the years have included a roster of royalty plus Picasso, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Kardashian, Kate Moss, Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio. Most of those stay in the famous Belle Etoile penthouse suite, which has its own private lift and entrance, four bedrooms and a wraparound terrace with 360-degree views of Paris.
Needless to say, my room was a little smaller but no less sumptuous, with panelled walls, a walk-in wardrobe, Louis XVI-style chairs and a vast marble bathroom complete with deep soaking tub and covetable Diptyque products. The marshmallow-soft bed was the most comfortable I’ve ever slept in (making my early morning wake up call even more brutal) while a balcony revealed spectacular sweeping views from Notre Dame all the way to the Eiffel Tower looming above the city.
Start the evening with a cocktail at the buzzing, dimly-lit Bar 228 where there’s excellent live jazz each night. There’s a choice of two Alain Ducasse restaurants afterwards. The two Michelin-star Restaurant le Meurice Alain Ducasse is the first in any Parisian hotel to be awarded the Écotable label to recognise its sustainable sourcing, waste reduction and the importance of plant-based options on the menu. This includes not serving endangered fish, preparing recipes to minimise waste and even collecting ash from barbecues so it can be returned to soil.
Restaurant Le Dali is less formal but still cosily chic, with elaborate displays of fresh flowers, candles and a vast ceiling canvas created by Philippe Starck’s daughter Ara. The menu focuses on local, seasonal French dishes, with 95% of the hotel’s ingredients sourced from local suppliers. I feasted on delicious courgette flower tempura, French onion soup with 34-month matured Comté and pan-seared potato gnocchi with sweet bell peppers and goat curd. But it’s Le Meurice’s desserts that really get people talking – even a passer-by I met when asking directions to the hotel told me not to miss them. These are created by Cedric Grolet – voted the World’s Best Pastry Chef – and often take the form of startlingly lifelike representations of fruit. I tried ‘Peach’, which arrives looking exactly like the real thing, but oozes with peach mousse, roasted fruit and crisp white chocolate when cut open. Don’t miss his airy croissants and shiny pain au chocolats at breakfast too.
The whole of Paris is on your doorstep. After watching early morning cyclists whizz by under my balcony over a coffee, I popped to the Tuileries gardens for a walk through the trees. With my family in tow, I was keen to visit the city’s main tourist attractions so headed out armed with a Go City: Paris All-Inclusive Pass from Attraction Tickets. This includes gate-ready admission to 85 attractions at savings of up to 50%. Over the three days covered by our pass, we toured the sights on a Big Bus Paris Hop-On-Hop-Off tour, visited the Dali Paris museum, joined a walking tour of Montmartre and even tucked into an enormous Croque Monsieur and champagne cocktail at a bistro by the Seine, all at no extra cost. Once you’re worn out from all the walking, head straight back to the hotel to try the only Valmont spa in Paris, with its hammam, gym and outdoor terrace for relaxing after treatments.
THE FINAL WORD
From its regal bedrooms to the exquisite patisserie, Le Meurice is pure Parisian paradise. Its history, location and A-list clientele simply can’t be beaten and make staying in this hotel feel like a bucket-list treat you will never want to end.
Arrive in style by jumping on a Eurostar from London St Pancras. With no additional checks on arrival or an endless airport transfer, I was checking into Le Meurice within half an hour of the train pulling into Gare Du Nord. Better still, carbon emissions are 90% less than the equivalent flight and you can bring up to two suitcases with you at no extra charge – ideal for bringing home all those boxes of pastel-coloured macarons.
Rooms at Le Meurice start from €1000 for a Classic Single Room. dorchestercollection.com
Eurostar operates 17 trains a day from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare Du Nord starting from £39 one way. All tickets are now flexible, with no exchange fee on changes up to seven days before departure. eurostar.com
A 3 Day Go City: Paris All-Inclusive Pass costs from £109 per adult and £67 per child (3 – 12) from Attraction Tickets. attractiontickets.com