What kind of hotel might attract such diverse guests as Pablo Picasso and Elizabeth Taylor, Mata Hari and FDR, Queen Victoria and Jay-Z, Tchaikovsky and the Olsen twins? The answer is Le Meurice. Opened in 1815 as one of the world’s first five-star hotels, this icon near the Tuileries Garden has long appealed to both the posh and creative sets; its ties to the art world are particularly strong, having hosted Picasso’s wedding dinner and served as Salvador Dali’s Parisian pied-á-terre for over thirty years.
For recent renovations of the public spaces, interiors guru Philippe Starck and his designer daughter, Ara Starck, took inspiration from Dali for some of the more playful touches (like the quirky portraits of 18th-century personalities painted on the backs of leather seats). In the 118 rooms and 42 suites, designer Charles Jouffre maintained a French classical style, with traditional and antique furnishings, rich fabrics, Garnier Thiebaut linens, deep-soaking tubs, and—in higher-category rooms like the Pompadour Suite—oak floors and fireplaces. All guests enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, water, fruit, and a welcome amenity of Alain Ducasse chocolates, while kids score with dedicated Le Petit Prince goodies. Rub elbows with your (possibly famous, definitely chic) other guests at the traditionally French Restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse, the Mediterranean-flavored Le Dalí Restaurant, or the clubby Bar 228, where legendary barman William Oliveri crafts excellent cocktails surrounded by oversized, 1907 Lavalley frescoes. Also worth visiting is the lovely spa, which pampers with products from Swiss line Valmont.