Britain’s Telegraph newspaper recently asked its travel writers to compile a list of the 50 best hotels in the world.
Not suprisingly, several of these hyper-luxurious luxury hotels were in France.
The two that stood out to my mind were the Hotel de Crillon and the George V. These are both world-renowned, beautiful, centrally-located Parisian hotels with great character, great service, excellent bars and restaurants, great rooms (and high prices. Ouch.)
Both the Crillon and the George Cinq are outstanding, even by French luxury hotel standards. They’re both eminently stylish with plenty of individual character.
The Telegraph list said this of the Crillon:
“The Hotel de Crillon, Paris
For sheer style, there is nowhere in Paris – possibly in the world – to beat the Hôtel de Crillon. The polished marble floors, the guilded stucco, the glittering chandeliers, and the oh-so-discreet and efficient service are the epitome of what a palace hotel should be. Rooms vary enormously – some are palatial, some much more modest – but all are smart. The showpiece restaurant Les Ambassadeurs has one of the best wine lists anywhere.” (www.crillon.com)
All that’s perfectly true and it’s hard to beat the standards set by the Crillon. The George V though is perfectly able to match the Crillon. The Telegraph article described the George V like this:
“Four Seasons George V, Paris
Further up towards the Arc de Triomphe…and perhaps a little brassier than the Crillon, with slightly showier service, the George V vies for the top spot in Paris. It has an Art Deco rather than an 18th-century heritage but the feeling is just as much that of a city palace. The rooms, of a good size and more consistent than the Crillon, are in Louis XV style. Le Cinq is the gastronomic restaurant, currently holding two Michelin stars.”
Personally, I like the George V. I particularly like the ground floor bar with its dark decor, comfortable chairs, intimate atmosphere and huge floral decorations on the bar. The last time I was there I was with an ex-boyfriend who likes to smoke cigars. It was a few weeks before smoking, just about anywhere, was banned (even in France, unbelievably). Most of the men in the bar and some of the women were smoking. My ex and I sat chatting as curls of aromatic blue, grey and white smoke unwound around the room, his Cohiba contributing. A waiter brought our wine and a plate of delicious green olives. The tranquil atmosphere took me back to my childhood when my father and his many brothers would sit in a fug of cigar smoke after lunch, drinking a couple of glasses of whisky, chatting and laughing. The atmosphere in the George V bar had some of the same intimacy and repose about it. The next time I’m there no doubt it’ll feel rather sanitised, cigars extinguished and visibility rather higher. But I have no doubt it’ll still have its fundamentally stylish character. Both the George V and the Hotel de Crillon, to me, are quintessentially Parisian establishments, with that effortless style that can only result from lots of careful planning, detailed hard work, significant investment and panache.