As you may or may not know, my last trip to Paris, although of course extremely pleasurable, was filled with many meetings for work. I was in Paris partially because I was writing an article about planning the perfect honeymoon there. Although it was work-based, you might smack me if I whined about touring the fanciest hotels and trying the best restaurants in Paris. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
One of my favorite stops in Paris was Le Meurice so I wanted to share my experience and photos with y’all. I had the chance to tour all of their finest suites and facilities and learn a bit more about their history, which I really found well, historic. This hotel was opened in 1771 by a man who ran a coach service. He would arrange rides to Paris and figured he should open a place for his customers to stay when they arrived. The hotel moved in 1835 to its present location, which overlooks the Tuileries Garden and it has been making history ever since. A newspaper clipping from 1855 says that Queen Victoria stayed at Le Meurice. Russian composer Tchaikovsky stayed there after giving a concert nearby. After that, privileged guests from royalty to celebs have called this place home. One of its most distinguished guests was Salvador Dali, who spent at least one month a year at the Hotel Le Meurice. This surrealist painter infused his zany spirit into the hotel’s essence. Once during his stay he demanded a herd of sheep be brought to his room and upon their arrival he shot at them, albeit with blank bullets (phew!). Another time he requested staff capture flies for him and paid 5 bucks per fly! Scores of royalty have also called hotel Le Meurice home, which is how it got its nickname as the Hotel of Kings and Queens. One reason behind the hotel’s popularity, which I found interesting, is that because of its location across from Tuileries Garden, which is a wide open space, the possibility of snipers is eliminated. Cool right? Other guests like Coco Chanel hosted celebrations here. Today, celebrities from Ana Wintour to Jessica Chastain and even the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce (and Blu Ivy) call this place home.
(These are actual photos that I took, not edited media versions)
The Hotel Le Meurice was recently renovated in 2007 by none other than Philipe Starck, the designer “it” guy these days. He seems like the perfect fit for me (if anyone cares about my architectural opinion based on nothing). His zaniness (like Dali) yet dedication to preserving the hotel’s rich and historical lavishness would prove to provide a seamless yet modern update. The guestroom updates, done by Holtmann and Jouffre, bring a new and warmer atmosphere along with the elegance of a fancy eighteenth-century home.
That said, the rooms are anything but old-fashioned when it comes to technology. Le Meurice perfectly blends classic and modern. For instance, an iHome dock for your iPod is placed on a XVIIIth piece of furniture. And, if you forget your iPod, the Le Meurice has a pre-programmed one for you to borrow! And where better to run than in the Tuileries Gardens? The hotel sits between Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. Bon jogging!
The rooms were simply splendid, especially the special suites. Interestingly, the first floor houses the Presidential Suites, which reflect the historical place where the upper-class were housed before elevators. Do you think a Queen was going to huff it to the top floor? Of course not, that was for the servants! I digress, the Presidential Suites face Tuileries Garden and are furnished with one of a kind masterpieces. Rooms are even soundproofed for ultimate privacy. The standout suite for me was the Belle Etoile Royal Suite (Beyonce’s!). Located high above the rooftops, this incredible suite is where they filmed the wine-tasting scene in Midnight in Paris (any other Midnight in Paris fanatics?) Remember that 360 degree view from Notre Dame to Musee d’Orsay? From the Eiffel Tower to the Grand Palais? The real star of the suite for me (aside from the insane balcony) is the magical marble bathroom complete with a massive Jacuzzi to enjoy the most incredible views. I can just see Beyonce in there now having a soak and thinking to herself, Damn! This is amazing. As she sips her champagne…
Moving on, the dining at Le Meurice is top notch. How many hotels have a three-Michelin-starred restaurant? Yep, they’ve got that. They also have Le Dali where the spirit of Dali reigns supreme. They’ve also got a burger that the New York Times calls the best in the world. Well, I couldn’t be at a hotel and not try that, right? So I sat down to lunch to learn more about the hotel with their lovely media manager, Marie Aude. I sat beneath an enormous 1560 square foot canvas designed by Philipe Starck’s daughter Ara, whose warm shades of gold and ochre transport you to another world.
Onto the most important point: the burger. It was absolutely delicious. The New York Times was right. It absolutely deserved its accolades as the Best Burger in the World. Yannick Alleno, the three-starred chef at Le Meurice is the brilliant mind behind the beef. Everything about it is perfect, the thickness, the temperature (medium rare), the bun (fresh baked), the smoked bacon, the mayo-mustard combo, the pickles and the fries. This masterpiece weighs in at 42 Euros, which is about $55 USD! And I thought Minetta Tavern’s famous $26 burger was pricey. But it is worth every bite. That burger will be in my dreams until my next visit to Paris.
As it turns out, the press manager, Marie-Aude was like my french sister. We had so much in common and got along so famously that my husband and I decided to join her that evening for a wine tasting. Yes, can you only imagine my excitement: a wine-tasting on the roof of Le Meurice, just like in Midnight in Paris? (Cue the French music) For those of you who don’t know me well, nothing makes me happier than living out my movie fantasies. It’s some kind of weird fetish. I love experiencing my favorite scenes I see in movies. And I never dreamed I would be able to actually enjoy a wine tasting in the exact same incredible spot where they did in Midnight in Paris.
That night I was a guest of Le Meurice and I haven’t experienced a more enchanting evening in a long time. The event was organized by three of the leading lady sommeliers at Dorchester Collection. Head sommeliers Vanessa Cinti (45 Park Lane), Estelle Touzet (Le Meurice) and Alessandra Veronesi (Hotel Principe di Savoia) organized this event to celebrate women behind the grape for International Women’s Day. These three sommeliers joined together and embarked on a wine road trip from London to Paris and ending in Milan on International Women’s day. They toasted female achievements in wine. The sommeliers picked their favorite American, French and Italian wines made by amazing wine makers. There was a pairing of food with each of the six wines that was divine. Well, most of it. I’m not the biggest adventurer when it comes to meat/seafood but how could I turn down anything from the chefs at Le Meurice? So I tried tongue, blood pudding, venison, lamb and foie gras. Usually my tastes are a bit simpler but there is no question about it, if anything is prepared by a skilled chef, I will eat it and I will love it. The night concluded with a little photo-shoot with my new best friend, Marie-Aude.
Now, as I mentioned, I didn’t stay at Le Meurice so maybe you’re thinking well, she doesn’t have any idea about the service or staff. Well, you’d be wrong (when will you and my husband learn: I am ALWAYS right). Earlier in the day (before the wine tasting I would like to add) I dropped my camera at the Louvre. I heard it crunch and crack as it hit the marble floor. I hadn’t cracked the lens (although I didn’t know at the time) but I shattered the filter, which after a rough fall was now stuck on the camera. On my way out I mentioned this to Marie-Aude who silently took my camera and set off toward the front desk. She uttered something quickly in French (yeah, I took it for 20 years and can’t speak a word, how pathetic). She told me she would call tomorrow and not to worry about it at all. I left my camera with the concierge who explained that it really was not a big deal and that they would take care of it. The next day before mid-afternoon, I received an email that they had succeeded in getting the filter off and that they had sent someone to buy me a new filter. I was floored at the level of service the concierge staff offered. I had a glimpse into exactly how Le Meurice treats its guests. (PS, I paid for the filter, don’t think they bought a good review!) If anything goes wrong for guests, the staff simply take the worry away and handles the problem for them. If that’s not impeccable service I don’t know what is.
During this trip to Paris I chose to do a luxury apartment stay through Avenue Story but next time I am in Paris if I choose to stay at a hotel, you better believe it will be at Le Meurice. It’s charm, it’s history and it’s top-notch service really won me over. If you’re looking for a Five Star hotel with the “WOW” factor, look no further than Le Meurice. Added bonus? My favorite suites were on the top floor and they are also the cheapest! Definitely one of the most lavish hotels I have ever had the chance to experience.
*As I said in my post, I was a guest for Lunch at the Wine Tasting I mention within the post but I did not receive any other compensation. As always all opinions herein are my own. Images are my own as well unless noted in which case they came from the hotel.*