This story originally appeared in the September/October 2018 issue of Elite Traveler.
The importance the French place on beauty, impeccable service and exquisite taste cannot be understated. In addition to world-renowned cuisine,wine, fashion and fragrances, its hotels are among the best in the world. Indeed, France developed its own extremely rigorous hotel-rating system for properties that exceed the expectations of a five-star hotel and epitomize the French standard of excellence. Just 24 properties in the country have earned the prestigious Distinction Palace classification, 10 of which are in Paris. And as the “war of the palaces” and their competing multi-hundred-million-dollar renovations draw to a close — although Le Meurice’s Belle Étoile Suite, a regular in our annual Top 100 Suites feature, is currently closed undergoing renovation — more hotels will surely be added to this distinguished list. After all, what could be better than a divine mix of classic French elegance and the comforts of the modern world?
Perhaps the most storied hotel in the City of Lights, there’s no shortage of anecdotes from the time celebrities and historical figures have spent at the Ritz (although our favorite tale is how Ernest Hemingway “liberated” the bar from Nazi occupation — it is now named in his honor). Aside from the glitz, glamour and history, in 2017 it emerged from a four-year renovation looking better than ever, but with the technology and amenities its well-heeled clients now require. The Ritz traced its heritage through its collection of suites, naming some after its most prestigious guests, including Coco Chanel, the Duke of Windsor and Marcel Proust. Topping them all is the Suite Impériale, which itself is a listed historic monument.Walking into the salons, the opulent decor and details are simply overwhelming — it’s akin to stepping back in time. One room is even a replica of Marie Antoinette’s bedroom in Versailles, which could certainly qualify as a museum. Throughout the pastel-colored three-bedroom suite, there are fine antique furniture and objects, including a Cartel à Tête d’Apollon clock and Louis XVI wall lights, and intricate woodwork that will captivate you.
L’Art de Vivre
Channel your inner Hemingway with a two-hour private mixology class with Colin Field, the head bartender who has won innumerable awards, including the best bartender in the world (twice). Learn to make the Serendipity, Bar Hemingway’s most popular cocktail, and invent your own signature drink after hearing Field’s mixology philosophy.