Avenue Montaigne is the ultimate destination for unabashed hedonism. Fashion titans like Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton and Chanel have lined this greatly revered Parisian street for time immemorial. However, another great name which plays on the lips of opulence may also be found here – that is Hotel Plaza Athénée.
The avenue itself was named after Michel de Montaigne, French author, philosopher and all round deep thinker and since the mid 1800s it has attracted the ‘bon vivants’ of gay Paris. The actual inception of the hotel itself dates back as far as 1911, when Jules Cadillat fronted the sizable fortune required to build a hotel which could re-establish a European benchmark for luxury. The front doors of this remarkable establishment were finally flung open to the great and the good at its completion on 20th April, 1913.
The years have been kind indeed to Hotel Plaza Athénée. In the 1920s the hotel doubled in size to accommodate for the glut in enthusiasm for its services and in the late 1940s Christian Dior, who had opened his first ever boutique on the avenue, started using the hotel for many of his shows, presentations and shoots.
In 2014 the hotel underwent a ‘no expense spared’ refurbishment, masterminded by architect extraordinaire Jean-Jacques Ory. This saw the remodeling of the rooms in the Versaille-esque fashion that they are today. Incredible gold framed paintings, antique gold trimmed tables and a few touches of red to neatly match with the iconic red awnings which perch atop the windows from the front of the hotel set the scene for relentless glamour.
The interior of this utterly iconic hotel drips in exquisitely ornate chandeliers, gold and marble. In essence, the hotel sings a song of the kind of no holes barred splendour which would earn you a one way ticket to the guillotine if you happened to have this palatial residence as your home address on the gas bill circa 1848.
One of proudest boasts of Hotel Plaza Athénee is its modest little restaurant which now bears three modest little Michelin Stars. The ‘Alain Ducasse Au Plaza Athénée’ is one of the ultimate European gastronomic destinations, not to mention a key ‘see and be seen/scene’ hangout. The buzzwords are ‘healthy fine dining’ at this culinary Mecca. No meat is served here and instead dishes revolve around a ‘fish-vegetable-cereal trilogy’, which some may find provides welcome respite from the cream saturated traditional French cooking found elsewhere in the city of love.
The hotel’s ‘Dior Institut au Plaza Athénée’ spa is also somewhat of a destination in its own right. The decor is highly minimalistic but with plenty of focus paid to key micro details like lighting and scent, whereby guests may pre-select a Dior perfume to be gently diffused into one’s state of the art treatment room, to ensure that appreciation for Christian goes above and beyond enjoyment of the treatment products and encroaches on all possible senses.
The final icing on the glorious cake, and which deserves its own very special mention, is the view from the balconies of the hotel out over the Eiffel Tour, Paris’s most recognised landmark. There can be no finer place to enjoy this view than from Plaza Athénée.
25 Avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris, France