Anna Wintour made Le Bristol her base during the fall 2014 Paris Fashion Week. David Beckham lived here for six months while searching for an apartment during his stint with the Paris Saint-Germain soccer team. At the nexus of fashion, art, and politics on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Le Bristol so embodies French l’art du vivre that its two pampered Burmese cats, Pharaoh and Cleopatra, sport collars by Goyard and sterling name tags by Christofle.
The hotel occupies nearly an entire block and consists of three conjoining 19th-century buildings. The Tradition Wing, a converted mansion, formed the original Bristol that opened in 1925, but many guests prefer quiet rooms in the Residence Wing overlooking the lawn and magnolia trees of a 13,000-square-foot garden. Throughout the hotel, six years of refurbishment completed in 2014 added even more marble, precious woods, and luxury textiles, heightening the unifying 18th-century French style and without compromising dedication to discreet and competent service. This is the kind of place where staff members greet guests by name and work the month before arrival to secure hard-to-score tickets and restaurant reservations. One hardly needs to go out, as the hotel’s restaurants, literary evenings, winetastings, contemporary art lectures, fashion shows, and weekend live DJs at The Bar at Le Bristol anchor French high society. Epicure, chef Eric Frechon’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant, is continually booked for lunch and dinner by the capital’s movers and shakers.
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Equidistant from Christie’s (9 Avenue Matignon) and Sotheby’s (76 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré), the hotel sits a block from Matignon Palace, the Prime Minister’s official residence, which brings in a steady stream of businessmen, politicians, and dignitaries. Global Parisian fashion launched from this section of the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the late 19th century; it’s a short walk further to the flagship Hermès store (24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré). Among the many high-powered art galleries lining surrounding streets are Perrin (98 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré) and Gagosian (4 Rue de Ponthieu). After business hours the neighborhood can feel ghostly, but hotel doormen with earphones stay on the lookout for paparazzi waiting for celebrities to emerge, while private chauffeurs stand on the curb trying to look busy reading the newspaper.
Need to Know
Rooms: 188 rooms. From $1,054. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Chef Eric Frechon directs all four dining establishments, including the three-Michelin-starred Epicure, newly relocated to overlook the garden and open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the clientele is 80 percent local (according to Le Monde), and signature starters might be a purple sea urchin poached in its own shell and cigarette-thin macaroni stuffed with black truffle, artichoke, and duck foie gras. The “luxury brasserie” 114 Faubourg has its own Michelin star, while Le Jardin Français, a popular lunch and brunch spot in warm weather, serves a €44 cheeseburger along with light meals of salad and fish. Decked out like a 19th-century British men’s club, Le Bar segues into a DJ lounge on weekend nights. Spa and gym details: The ground-floor Prairie Spa houses the gym and a kids' club for parents who want adult playtime. The sixth-floor pool, enclosed in a space designed by the Onassis family’s yacht architect to mimic a 19th-century captain’s quarters, has floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of the Paris skyline.
Who’s it for: The one percent in all its permutations: couples, families, solo business and leisure travelers. Our favorite rooms: Number 808, a Prestige Room, is under the mansards in the oldest wing, just next to the more expensive and expansive Honeymoon Suite, and is popular for its Eiffel Tower views and corner position. Woody Allen chose the Panoramic Suite, renovated in 2013, as a location for his film Midnight in Paris. Most rooms receive lovely natural light. For fashion lovers: Guests not invited to Paris Fashion Week can book the year- round Saturday afternoon tea in Le Jardin Français, when models wearing couture strike poses amid the tables.