PARIS – The Lutetia, Paris’ iconic Rive Gauche, Art Deco hotel re-opened its centenary doors on Thursday after a long-overdue 4-year refurbishment.
This 1910 establishment has witnessed from unrepeatable peacetime literary episodes to unspeakable wartime evil but has survived it all thanks to its unique sense of serene, cosmopolitan, sophistication.
After its renovation, the room where Charles de Gaulle spent his wedding night in 1921 no longer exists nor does the bar where Albert Cohen wrote part of his “Belle du Seigneur” manuscript. Even so, recovering the spirit of one of Paris’ most representative Rive Gauche landmarks was a stated goal of Alrov, the Israeli group that purchased the hotel in 2010 for 145 million euros and invested a similar amount in restoring it back to its original glory.
Its 184 rooms will no longer cost 300 euros but 850 euros (minimum) per night, increasing up to 20,000 euros per night for its 40 more exclusive suites, of which seven are themed and have borrowed the names of famous clients that slept there such as Josephine Baker, Jean-Paul Sartre or James Joyce.
In the opinion of luxury expert Abraham de Amezaga: “The idea is to recover its status as a Rive Gauche landmark, probably by attracting Anglo-Saxon, or perhaps Mexican or Brazilian clientele, but its regular public belongs to this neighborhood, where you can walk past Ines de la Fressange as she goes shopping or Brigitte Bardot taking a walk.”
During the Second World War, the Lutetia became the Gestapo’s (Abwher) wartime HQ in Paris HQ. After Paris was liberated it lodged French resistance members and later returning Holocaust survivors.
Built 108 years ago by the Boucicaut family, owners of Paris’ Bon Marche exclusive department stores, the hotel still retains its original façade shaped as sea waves but now has more spacious rooms, a spa and swimming pool plus a new five-star rating.
Its renovation has recovered its Belle Epoque stained glass ceilings, inside patios, frescoes, bronze statues and original bar, the Josephine.
The hotel will offer Jazz concerts every Friday and Saturday night and next November will inaugurate a restaurant under the direction of Gérald Passedat, chef of Marseille’s Petit Nice (Three Michelin stars).
Regardless of these upgrades, the Lutetia owners hope their exclusive, chic Parisian neighbors will continue supporting them with their daily patronage.