Hotel Lancaster

Champs Elysees, Paris, France Book from

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Grand hotel just off the Champs Elysées that effortlessly demonstrates the gracious art of living à la française
The Lancaster is steeped in history. Built in 1889 as a private mansion and converted to a hotel in 1930, it has seen royalty, movie stars, artists, politicians and society figures pass through its doors. Its 57 rooms and suites are magnificently opulent, and there’s a choice of no fewer than 3 salons, all of them stuffed with unusual antiques: precious porcelain, Baccarat chandeliers, rare wall clocks, Louis XV furniture, even some oil paintings donated by the émigré Boris Pastoukhoff to settle his bill. Yet, for all this, its atmosphere remains refreshingly unstuffy. Stay here and you'll feel enchanted, but not overawed.

In 2006 the hotel changed hands and whilst the essence of the palatial building has been totally respected, innovations and technologies have been added - such as complimentary WiFi, flat screen TV, DVD players, iPod desks and new mini bars in every room and suite. Ideally situated in Paris' Golden shopping Triangle, the Lancaster is one of life's delicious experiences.

Highs

  • Elegant rooms and suites, with tall ceilings, antique furniture and modern, marbled bathrooms
  • Superb and unhaughty service
  • Innovative restaurant with themed menu
  • Cool, Zen-like courtyard garden
  • Wonderful collection of fine art and antiques throughout the hotel

Lows

  • Can get booked up so secure your rooms in advance
  • Not on the prettiest of Parisian streets, but just 1 minute from shopping and people-watching on the Champs Elysées
  • Not for those seeking modern design or minimalist decor

Best time to go

Paris is wonderful all year round. A good time to come is August when the locals leave and the city is relatively empty; the sales are on in January. And if you're planning that romantic spring time break, this is the perfect destination.

Our top tips

Consider buying a museum-monument pass for 1, 3 or 5 days, which gets you into over 70 places. And if you want to avoid the crowds on the Seine, book a private "River Limousine" launch to whizz you past all the waterside attractions in style.

Great for...

City Style
Foodie
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Hotel
  • 57
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Sauna
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room: Prestige

Rooms

The 43 rooms and 14 suites are arranged over 8 floors, with a choice of over a dozen styles and sizes. All have fabulous antique furniture, luxurious fabrics in damask and silk, crisp cotton Frette sheets and the plumpest of pillows. But they're also very practical, with ample cupboard space for all those posh frocks (either in large antique armoires or built in wardrobes); and the turn-down service touchingly includes the next day's weather forecast. And there's no shortage of modern technology: 2 telephone lines, an i-pod dock, Nintendo Wii, complimentary WiFi, cable and satellite flatscreen TV/DVD...

Most bathrooms are dressed from top to toe in gleaming marble, with iroko-wood fittings, fluffy robes and towels, and bespoke toiletries from Contemporel.

For ancien regime grandeur, splash out on one of the vast Executive Suites. The Emile Wolf suite is named after the hotel’s creator, and features a vast living room, a grand piano, and a balcony. Overlooking the garden is Boris Pastpukhoff, with a spacious salon and (like the others) a kingsize bed which can divide into 2 singles. Felix Ziem has a walk-in dressing room and views towards the Sacré Coeur from its large balcony.

The Deluxe Suites have a more intimate feel. Some are upholstered in vivid red silk, while others are decorated in pastel-and-purple, yellow-and-gold or a subtler paprika shade. One of these suite looks towards the Eiffel Tower and Sacré Coeur. Junior Suites are very similar, both have living rooms, the only difference being that they’re a little smaller and overlook the garden.

The grandest suite of them all is the Presidential Suite Marlène Dietrich. It’s on the fourth floor where the legendary actress lived for 3 years, is festooned in lilac (her favourite colour) and boasts a fireplace, a grand piano, and views over the Parisian rooftops from the balconies.

If you're on a less regal budget, the Prestige, Deluxe, Superior and Single Rooms feature the same luxurious touches as the suites (tall ceilings, plush fabrics, modern bathrooms), with kingsize or twin beds. They're smaller than the suites, of course, but only the Single Rooms could be considered small, at about 260 square feet (25 sq.m.). Most others can take an extra bed, and many rooms interconnect, which could be useful for families - though for some reason children are not allowed in Superior Rooms.

Bear in mind that streetside rooms can experience some noise in the mornings although their windows are double-glazed and few guests notice; garden-side rooms are quieter.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The Oriental-influenced dining salon leads off Le Grand Salon and overlooks the courtyard garden. Here, from 7 to 10.30am, you'll find a delicately presented breakfast buffet. Besides the usual pastries, cereal and cold cuts, you get homemade jams, seasonal fruit salads and delicious little pots of rice pudding with apple compote or fjord with crushed raspberries. If that all sounds too dainty, you can order a full petit dejeuner anglais of eggs, bacon, tomato, mushrooms and sausages.

The award-winning restaurant, La Table du Lancaster, offers lunch from 12.30 to 2 and dinner from 7.30 to 10pm. Three-star Michelin chef Michel Troisgros has invented a "creative, elegant and light menu" organised into six themes, such as zesty (eg tartare of john dory and celeriac), piquant (eg sautéed frogs legs with tamarind and cauliflower), sweet (eg hot lime souffle with honey sauce) or sour (eg conchiglioni stuffed with ricotta, spinach and basil). Don't be surprised if your waiter talks about 'the wit of the tomato' or the 'playfulness' of crayfish escabèche with smoked anchovies and aubergine. You can mix your themes if you wish, or opt for the notes acidulées, a six course menu for the entire table.

Two notes pratiques: the restaurant closes annually from 23 July to 22 August; and cocktails, hot chocolate, high tea, lights meals and tapas are served in Le Grand Salon.

If you fancy dining out, big-name eateries on your doorstep include the triple Michelin-starred Pierre Gagnaire, the famous wine list of Taillevent, and Lasserre which is decorated in the style of a 1930's liner. Booking ahead is essential at all three. For something more modest, ask for the list of bistros, brasseries and other recommended restaurants at the front desk.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Patio
Activity: Fitness centre

Activities

Paris has more world-famous sights than you can shake a stick at: the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Sacré Coeur, Notre Dame, Jardins du Luxembourg, Montmartre, Les Tuileries, Pompidou Centre and the Place de la Concorde, to name but a few (and let's not forget Versailles). The hotel's excellent reception staff know Paris by heart and will book tickets or give advice on almost any sight.

But, quite apart from these, don't overlook...

  • The glittering Champs-Elysées, Paris' "Golden Triangle" of shopping, on your doorstep: all the brand names are here (Guerlain, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Hermes) as well as speciality shops like J.M.Weston (crafted shoes), Sephora (perfumes), Caves Taillevent (specialist wine store), Vignon (luxury delicatessen), and Maison du Chocolat (exquisite hand-made chocolates).

  • The rare and dazzling collection of Italian Renaissance, French masterpieces and Flemish works in the Musée Jacquemart Andre, formerly a private mansion and now Paris' most visited private museum, just a couple of blocks away.

  • Paris' best contemporary art collection outside the Pompidou: the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in the 16th arrondissement.

  • Nearby parks and gardens such as the Parc Monceau, a chic late 18th-century park with follies, grottoes, magnificent trees and shrubs, and the Jardins des Champs-Elysées, with its Belle Epoque pavilions, theatres and smart restaurants

  • For cutting-edge culture, Le Point Ephémère in the 10th arrondissement: a former school now showcasing contemporary art and music (and there's a great restaurant and bar).

  • The 44-hectare Cimetière du Pere Lachaise in the 20th arrondissement, where Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Colette, Balzac and Chopin are buried.

  • The historic Marais in the 4th arrondissement: brimful with trendy boutiques, terrific bars and savvy fashionistas.

  • The Musée de la Curiosité et de la Magie in the 4th arrondissement, where you can take the kids on a guided tour through the history of magic, finishing with some excellent conjuring.

  • The labyrinthine, spooky catacombs in the 14th arrondissement, where 6 million skeletons, disinterred from cemeteries since the 18th century, now lie neatly - almost artistically - stacked.

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Children aged 0-6 stay for free on extra bed in parents' room (categories Deluxe or above); thereafter they are charged as adults. Some of the Lancaster suites have sofabeds and a second bathroom. Baby cots and babysitting are available.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Some Prestige and Deluxe rooms interconnect. A number of suites have a sofabed, while all suites have room for an extra bed and a baby cot. Children are not allowed in the Superior Rooms

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

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