One of the biggest surprises in my travel-writing career to date was the discovery that a Paris luxury hotel has a famous floral designer as its artistic director.
Jeff Leatham is the man who holds that title at the Four Seasons George V in the Paris 8th (as well as at the FS properties in Philadelphia and Beverly Hills) and his prowess with flowers is evident from the moment you breeze through the revolving door from the bustling boulevard which the hotel calls home.
The lobby is filled with fresh blooms, the sight and scent of which is something to behold – and every room and space of the hotel has bouquets delivered regularly, meaning that Monsieur Leatham’s influence is felt all over the property.
Why Stay Here?
Avenue George V may technically lie in the 8th arrondissement but it also forms the border to the 16th, which basically means you’re in Paris’ most swanky area. The vibrance of the Champs-Elysées and the lights (at night, obviously) of the Eiffel Tower are visible from the terraces and balconies of the suites, with the super-luxe designer retail offerings of Avenue Montaigne just a short stroll down the hill.
If you’re in town for the traditional tourism you’re within walking distance of many, and a short Metro ride of most, of the classic spots. If you’ve long since ticked all that off your travel to-do list and are looking more for a pied-a-têrre for luxury Parisian living, this is the area for you. High-end shopping, the most chic bistros (for the most chic people-watching), and some of the most beautiful architecture in the city are all just outside.
How’s The Food?
Only one hotel in Europe can boast a total of five Michelin stars, and this is it. The courtyard at the heart of the building has three different restaurants taking three of its four sides – leading the line is the three-starred Le Cinq. The incredible gastronomy of Christian Le Squer has become a destination in its own right, with the most discerning of Parisian epicureans booking up in their droves.
To the left as you gaze on that courtyard from the lobby – both of which are filled with more of those flowers, naturally – lies Le George, a more relaxed and contemporary setting – still bearing one Michelin star – in which to enjoy a lunch or dinner of modern Mediterranean cuisine.
To the right is the extremely intimate L’Orangerie, again holding one star. L’Orangerie is unusual for many reasons – the relative youth of its chef, Alan Taudon, the small scale of the dining room (an elegant conservatory off the main gallery, with space for fewer than 20 diners), and the focus on fish and plant-based dishes for the menu. If that last one makes you sceptical, don’t worry: I too was unconvinced at first, but by the third dish of the tasting menu I was beginning to question whether I’d ever need to eat meat again.
Away from the main restaurants, there’s the opulent La Galerie, which serves up tea and snacks throughout the afternoon and elevated bistro classics at night, and an elegant wood-panelled bar for drinks and small plates from early evening until the wee hours.
What Are The Rooms Like?
This is a massive property, so the room choices are pretty varied. All are significantly larger than the norm for a Paris hotel – space is always limited in the City of Light – and are decorated in a style which stays true to how the hotel would have looked when it first opened, but without forgoing modern comforts.
The signature penthouse suite boasts 360-degree views of the city skyline which are barely rivalled at any hotel in town, many of which can be enjoyed from the depths of your massive marble bath. The terrace in that room (apartment, really) alone spans much of the roof area, and the prospect of champagne and cigars here while watching the lights of the city below is an enticing one.
Away from the largesse of the larger suites in the building, any room you choose will be enormously comfortable and afford you a surprising amount of space in which to relax.
If all that luxury weren’t enough, hidden beneath the main hotel is a gargantuan spa and fitness area which offers all manner of pampering and “relaxation experiences”. An early morning dip in the lap pool is the perfect way to burn off all of that fine dining from the night before, or simply chill in the vitality pool or hammam.
In a city with no shortage of luxury hotel options, a property has to work hard to stand out. From the flowers which explode into your eyeline on arrival, through the myriad culinary options, to the shimmering city views seeing you off to sleep at night, the Four Seasons George V does exactly that.
Rooms from €2,150 per night, fourseasons.com.