Hotel Lutetia in Paris
When I lived in Paris, I lived on rue Babylone on the top floor of a beautiful old building overlooking a park. When I looked out my window to the right, I could practically reach out and touch Le Bon Marché department store. At the end of the park on the left was the old Hotel Lutetia. It had closed a month before I arrived in Paris for much needed renovations and has finally reopened this summer. Actress Many Moore was one of the first guests to stay at the Lutetia during the Paris Haute Couture fashion shows but she’s not the only celebrity to have stayed at the legendary hotel and will probably not be the last.
The Hotel Lutetia opened in 1910 and was one of the only grand hotels on the Rive Gauche and it’s no accident that it sits close to Le Bon Marché. The Boucicaut family, who founded the department store in 1852, decided to build the hotel to house their best clients and suppliers since there was none in the neighborhood. Architects Henri Tauzin and Louis-Hippolyte Boileau created an Art Nouveau masterpiece with rooms that included luxurious such as hot water, telephones to call reception, and air conditioning.
Artists, philosophers, celerities, and politicians such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, James Joyce, and Albert Camus, among others frequented the hotel along with locals until 1940 when it was occupied by the Germans during World War II. In 1944, the hotel became an important reunification point for families separated during the war. It later became a hang out for Serge Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve and Josephine Baker performed for guests.
As with many of the grand hotels, it had become a little threadbare and in need of an update. Georgi Akirov, the chairman of The Set, the three-property hotel brand that bought the Lutetia from Starwood Capital Group in 2010 hired the French architect Jean-Michele Wilmotte, a longtime patron of the Lutetia to create an aesthetic that was sophisticated and contemporary, yet respectful of the hotel’s past. The guest rooms are now decorated typical hotel design but the public areas include frescoes uncovered in the renovation in the Bar Josephine, updated restaurants including the Orangerie and soon to reopen Brasserie Lutetia.
The most interesting part of the renovation is that they had to create a new pool for the hotel. The original Hotel Lutetia pool now houses the Hermès boutique on rue de Sèvres that was my favorite place to shop when I lived nearby. It carries the original and interesting petite h collection and has a little bookstore and café. I can’t wait to stop by both on my next trip to Paris.