HOTEL LUTETIA, RIVE GAUCHE, PARIS

Bar Josephine, Hotel Lutetia, Paris
 

Bar Josephine, Hotel Lutetia, Paris


 

Following a complete renovation which took four years, Hotel Lutetia, the Grand Dame of the Left Bank finally reopened its doors last summer. Having frequently stayed at this more than iconic hotel before its closure in 2014, it was clear to me that it needed an extensive make-over to bring it into the 21st century. Don’t get me wrong, I always hugely enjoyed staying at the Lutetia even when it was a bit run down. This was definitely to do with its magic, its flamboyant visitors and because it was the perfect place to sit with good friends after dinner until the early hours. And I was delighted to be back. Immediately after it opened in 1910, the Lutetia, the invention of the Boucicaut family, which owned the famous Le Bon Marché department store located just opposite the hotel became a favourite with personalities from the worlds of art, literature, fashion, politics and cinema. Over the years it has welcomed celebrities including André Gide, Charles de Gaulle, Jean Cocteau, Picasso, Josephine Baker, Serge Gainsbourg, Isabelle Huppert, Catherine Deneuve, Brad Pitt and many others. But the Bar du Lutetia always was and is once again the place where lesser known ‘Parisiens’ also meet. Like all the capital’s key buildings, the Lutetia was requisitioned during the Second World War and at the end of the war, the hotel welcomed deportees and their families who came to take them home. The Lutetia passed into the hands of the Taittinger champagne family in the 1950s and in 2010 was acquired by the current owner, The Set hotel group, which hired Jean-Michel Wilmotte to oversee the renovation. His challenge was to breathe new life into the establishment and reposition it as the only grand hotel on the Left Bank while at the same time respecting its extraordinary history and meeting 21st century standards. The renovation transformed the layout of the ground-floor areas and cut the number of rooms from 233 to 184, releasing space to create 47 magnificent suites. Most amazingly, by excavating the basement, Wilmotte also managed to equip the Lutetia with a 700 square metre spa, swimming pool (where, yes, you can swim laps) and gym. In a city where space is hard to come by, the spa feels wonderfully lavish. The Bar Josephine named after Baker, and where I once had the pleasure of running into Serge Gainsbourg in the early hours looks impressively beautiful with its rediscovered original Romanesque frescoes, restored by experts working with tiny brushes for over 20,000 hours. Gérald Passédat, who holds three Michelin stars with his restaurant Le Petit Nice in Marseille and also oversees the kitchen at Chateau La Coste, is promising to bring seafood-based cuisine from Marseille to the Brasserie Lutetia when it opens in the very near future.
 
—Copyright 2018 Mart Engelen

 
 

Le Saint Germain, Hotel Lutetia, Paris
 

Hotel Lutetia, Le Saint Germain, Paris

 
 

Pool, Hotel Lutetia, Paris
 

Pool, Hotel Lutetia, Paris

 
 

Library, Hotel Lutetia, Paris
 

Library, Hotel Lutetia, Paris