Le Meurice’s whimsical foray into Dali’s surreal subconscious is the crème de la crème of a classic grande dame hotel experience.
By Michael M. Clements.
WL TAKE: While staying here, Woody Allen was on the Royal Suite roof top balcony shooting a scene for his film “Midnight In Paris.” Why? Because there isn’t a hotel as jaw-droppingly ornate as Le Meurice in all of France. (The unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower is a nice perk too.) This original Parisian “Palace Hotel” was established as a home away from home for upper-class British travelers in the late 18th century. Queen Victoria stayed here in 1855. Beyoncé is a regular when she’s in a Parisian state of mind. The property has a storied history with the creative class. Writers, artists and musicians from Kipling and Minelli to Domingo, Taylor and Burton have graced its ornate halls. Salvador Dali called Le Meurice home every winter for 30 years. The hotel pays homage to the surrealist master via Philippe Starck who, in 2007, was commissioned to add his unique brand of quirkiness to spruce up the place. The resulting Restaurant Le Dali, with its mismatched chairs bearing playfully-inventive references to the Spanish Catalan’s recurring art themes (note the stacked walking cane lamps and high-heeled chair leg), is a gem, as are the melting columns and frozen floor mirror in the lobby. Without losing its time-honored palatial personality and attention to luxury, Le Meurice has chartered a course that is both artistically cutting edge and classic, befitting its inclusion in the Dorchester Collection of hotels.
LE ROOMS: Starck’s Dali tribute doesn’t extend into the rooms, but that’s okay – the purist in us loved the empire style décor style redolent of Louis XVI. You can tour a Napoleon III Apartment in the nearby Richelieu Wing of The Louvre, or you can stay in one with a state-of-the-art HD flat screen TV and five-star room service. Let me eat cake! We recommend the Presidential Suites on the first floor or the Marco Polo Suite on the sixth, all have stunning views of the Tuileries Gardens. The rain showers and Italian marble bathroom floors bring the spa to you. Rates vary from US$700 to $1,300 a night.
LE LOCATION: Step out of the glass revolving and doors past a throng of black Bentleys and you’re in the heart of the city near The Lourve, Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie, The Avenue des Champs-Élyséess, and The Royal Palace, not to mention some of Paris’ best shopping.
AU RESTAURANT: Restaurant Le Dali in the lobby specializes in lighter fare. We recommend it for high tea and pastries. The monumental 1,560 square feet canvas on the ceiling was painted by Ara Starck. The cozy wood panel Bar 228 is where Dali imbibed many a night with the same master bartender, who still works there today. Tip: After sampling some of the 300 drinks on the menu – among them 17 exclusive creations, such as the Cocktail Starcky or the 228 – peek behind the sofa directly opposite the bar and you’ll see Dali peeking back. No stay at Le Meurice would be complete without a meal in Restaurant Le Meurice. Try concentrating on the Financial Times over breakfast when you’re surrounded by 17th century grand siècle style decor with resplendent murals and ornate chandeliers. Three Michelin star Chef Yannick Alléno creates menus according to his own distinctive style of refined, harmonious and healthy cuisine.
LE SPA: At Le Spa Valmont pour Le Meurice, services range from facial treatments and body massages to hand and foot therapeutic care. The relaxing outdoor terrace is a nice tranquil hideaway. The spa solely utilizes Valmont cosmetics coveted for “proven anti-aging and skin prolonging factors.”
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