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Plaza Athenee

Review of Plaza Athenee

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Exterior of Plaza Athenee in Paris

Exterior of Plaza Athenee in Paris

Image copyright Charlyn Keating Chisholm, licensed to About.com

Arriving at this hotel dusty from a day at Disneyland Paris, I took one look at the neighborhood and wished I'd had time to change. As the taxi stopped on tree-lined Avenue Montaigne, the doorman spotted us and hurried across the street to help. I had to stop and gaze up at the window boxes, filled with fresh red flowers. Inside, the lobby exuded a feminine Parisian elegance, with fresh flowers, polished marble, and crystal chandeliers, that was quite different from the grand Dali-inspired design of sister hotel Le Meurice. At the check-in desk, the man next to me whipped out a black American Express card.

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Plaza Athenee: Drinks and Dining

Outdoors, La Cour Jardin offers lunch and dinner service seasonally. The menu emphasizes vegetables, and herb and vegetable gardens adorn the space. As beautiful as La Cour Jardin is during the warmer months, it becomes magical in the winter: a Christmas carousel delights children, and the area is turned into an ice skating rink.

Breakfast in the dining room is an occasion. The elegant room is home to Alain Ducasse's restaurant. The pastries were by Christophe Michalak's team (he's the 2005 World Pastry Champion). Best chocolate croissants. Ever. I also sampled what the staff agreed was the "best ham in the world," Iberian Bellota Bellota. When asked, they explained with great passion about the pigs in a small area in Spain who feed on flowers that fall from the trees. I had a selection of loose leaf teas, and they even brought me fresh squeezed lemon juice. A glass of Alain Ducasse Champagne finished off the occasion. I was in heaven.

Along the facade, La Terrace Montaigne is a casual see-and-be-seen spot along the Avenue for snacks and cocktails.

Off the lobby and overlooking the courtyard, I found La Galerie des Gobelins to be a popular yet relaxed spot for afternoon tea, pastries, champagne and cocktails. A harpist entertains.

I spent a memorable evening at Le Bar on my previous visit to Paris, and wanted to stop in again to revisit Patrick Jouin's artistic interior. The bar glows blue at night, and alcoves set into deep picture frames make patrons into works of art. The fireplace at the end of the room had the digital image of flames flickering in the mirror above it.

Plaza Athenee: Guest Rooms

Breakfast wasn't the only place I was in heaven. When I was shown to my suite, my jaw dropped. I was staying in one of the Eiffel Suites. Mine for two nights was a one-bedroom, two-bath, 1122-square-feet study in decadence that offers a mesmerizing view of the Eiffel Tower. On the second morning, I ordered room service and asked them to set up the table at this window, for an inspiring morning view. The window from the master bedroom shared the view of the Eiffel Tower. Each night on the hour, the tower is illuminated with twinkly lights, and I could watch right from the king-sized bed.

The Eiffel Suite next door to mine has the added benefit of a rooftop terrace. Cushioned lounge chairs were the perfect spot to soak up some sun, and you can't beat the panoramic view of Paris.

Most guest rooms are classically decorated with plenty of pink and feminine Parisian touches. Guest rooms in the hotel's top floors (7 and 8) have art deco styling. The elegant hotel is also family-friendly, with many rooms interconnecting for larger parties.

Plaza Athenee: Diversions In and Around

Below the lobby, the Dior Institute welcomes guests with a video screen displaying life-sized images of runway models. Not what I necessarily want to see right before getting naked in front of strangers, but it does add a touch of high style. Twinkly lights reminiscent of the ones illuminating the Eiffel Tower add an ethereal air to the hammam and couple's treatment room.

Champs Elysees is only a block away, and it's a short walk to the Arc de Triomphe. There's a metro stop at the end of the street. Designer stores, including Chanel, Valentino, and Cavalli, line the block.

I found a good and affordable outdoor cafe down stylish Avenue Montaigne and around the corner. At Restaurant Chez Francis I ordered beef carpaccio in my best French. The very French server responded in English, "Do you know exactly what that is?" Maybe I need to work on my accent. N'est-ce pas?

(Reviewed 1/8/2010)

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Plaza Athenee is located: five minutes' walk from the Place de la Concorde
25 Avenue Montaigne, Paris, 75008 France
Phone: 33 1 53676599; Reservations: (800) 650-1842
Web site: Plaza Athenee

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.
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