The Hotel Plaza Athénée opened on Avenue Montaigne on 20 April 1913. Similarly to the present pandemic, The Hotel Plaza Athénée remained open during World War I. In the 1920s, he hotel expanded in size, adding rooms and suites, the restaurant La Cour Jardin and two salons.
The Le Relais restaurant became a cafeteria for American soldiers during the Liberation of Paris. In 1947, Christian Dior established his couture house next to the hotel. In 1968, the Forte Group purchased the Hotel Plaza Athénée.
The history of Plaza Athénée and its success of the past two decades is linked to visionary luxury hotelier Francois Delahaye. Between 1998 to 2000, the hotel was renovated under his guidance and it was Delahaye who chose Alain Ducasse to supervise the hotel’s catering services and create a menu for the hotel’s new restaurant Alain Ducasse.
Ducasse obtained three Michelin stars at his Plaza Athénée restaurant in 2001. Additionally, Delahaye appointed pastry chef Christophe Michalak at La Galerie des Gobelins and Philippe Marc as chef of Le Relais Plaza.
In 2001, the Dorchester Collection acquired the Hotel Plaza Athénée, and entrusted Delahaye to ensure the luxurious hotel maintains its leading ranking. In 2018-2019, the hotel underwent extensive renovations once again, adding an entire new adjacent building which was transformed to house the finest suites of the hotel.
No expense has been spared, with close attention being paid to the finishes while making use of the finest materials. Following the most recent renovation, The Plaza Athénée features the most luxurious suites in Paris, with many of them offering picture perfect views, heavenly bathrooms (Guerlain amenities) and an overall sophisticated and aristocratic feel, nevertheless, ensuring the ultimate comfort, whether it is bedding or technology.
The finest suite of the hotel is the signature Haute Couture Suite with uninterrupted views of the Eiffel Tower. A decadent blend of soft grey and pinks illuminates the grace and stylish charm of the Haute Couture Eiffel Suite. Elaborate mouldings accentuate wonderful high ceilings, rich couture-house fabrics add a layer of sumptuous delight and unique details throughout your furnishings bring this suite together to form an elegant personal space and living work of art. The combination of the very bright strong colours of the furniture elements is a true feast for the eye.
With a Dior Institute Spa, a Michelin starred restaurant headed by Alain Ducasse, a most sought-after sleek Le Bar as well as La Gallerie, a must visit for luxury shoppers after a stroll through Avenue Montaigne, Hotel Plaza Athénée has firmly cemented its positioning as THE couture hotel of Paris, exuding ultimate glamour and elegance. The superbly manicured courtyard is a centre-piece of the hotel in warmer months, while in winter, it is transformed into a skating rink.
The overall aim and sensible pursuit was to generate ultimate desirability with a major WOW factor, which is the essence of luxury. There are few those who can call the hotel ‘home away from home’, the hotel being one of the priciest in Paris but also because of the relatively limited number of rooms and suites, the hotel running very high occupancy levels in normal times.
The variety of venues and offerings could easily make a guest spend a considerable amount of time during their stay, whether it is a sophisticated a-la-carte breakfast, a more casual lunch / dinner experience at Le Relais Plaza of the epitome of fine dining at the Alain Ducasse Restaurant. For the warmer months, there is also a exquisite outdoor terrace La Terrace Montaigne – perfect for a shopping pause or an evening cocktail.
Francois Delahaye is much more than just a General Manager of the property – it his home, being THE perfect ambassador. He would not only know most guests by name, yet, still he is also the biggest promoter of the property, subtly making sure there is an ideal mix of guests, both foreign travellers as well as locals. He is also a unique inspiration for his entire team, who are continuously striving to provide the highest service standards.
Mention must also be made that Delahaye is a major ambassador of Paris, with numerous initiatives that have seen most General Managers of Parisian luxury hotels lobbying against unfair competition from Airbnb, pleading for the challenges that the city had been facing before the pandemic (ex ‘Yellow Vests’) until today, when confronting authorities to demand support during the pandemic in order to protect jobs.
Much like Christian DIOR, Hotel Plaza Athénée will emerge shinier and more sparkling than ever, once the current pandemic slows down significantly. Even if (hypothetically) the social media channels of the hotel were to be paused, no-one who has ever passed by (not even stayed) would perfectly remember the Plaza Athénée, who many revere, as a luxury institution – more than just a luxury, Palace ranked hotel.
The hotel remains open during this second wave with in-room dining by the starred Chefs of the hotel. However, the dining venues and the Spa are temporarily closed.
Oliver Petcu in Paris
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