Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris

Plaza Athenee Hotel Paris - GlobalLiving

Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris Celebrates 100 Years of History

By Cedric Damour

Global Living – Issue 8 | September/October 2013

Located on the prestigious Avenue Montaigne, unrivaled in Paris for its elegance and its many prestigious designer boutiques, the Plaza Athénée has housed the most famous travelers since its opening in 1913. From Grace Kelly to Gary Cooper, and from Jackie Kennedy to the Ford family, the Plaza Athénée is the ultimate luxury spot in Paris.

Celebrating its centenary in 2013, the hotel has been tremendously changed in the last decade. In 2000, it was fully renovated. Renowned chef Alain Ducasse set up his restaurant, which became a major center of Parisian cuisine with three Michelin stars, and Patrick Jouin, a disciple of French designer Philippe Stark, created the most daringly designed bar in the French capital. In 2005, the Royale Suite, with a surface area of 4,840 square feet was created. In 2008, the Plaza Athénée and Christian Dior, its neighbor across the Avenue Montaigne, jointly set up the Dior Institute at the hotel. This spa came naturally, as the first encounter between Christian Dior and the Plaza Athénée took place in 1946, when the house of Christian Dior moved into 30 Avenue Montaigne and the luxury hotel became a second home to Monsieur Dior. Haute couture, the spirit of the place, an elite clientele, personalized service… Their many points of resemblance, shared heritage and common values inevitably forged a close bond between Dior and the Plaza Athénée.

 A favorite spot for the Parisians and foreigners alike

Although the Plaza Athénée is a hotel, many of its landmarks are favorites for the trendiest locals too, and both the travelers and Parisians can often be found at any time of the day, at one of the hotel hotspots. For tea at La Galerie des Gobelins, which takes its inspiration from the avenue Montaigne and fashion, guests can enjoy a fashion parade of flavors at any time. Teatime at the Plaza Athénée is one of the best in Paris, with an amazing choice of cakes and pastries, created by the World Cakes and Pastries Champion, Christophe Michalak. For a refreshment at La Cour Jardin, which opens every year when the nice summer days are back, guests can relax in the famous garden terrace restaurant with its red sun umbrellas and Virginia creeper. For a glass of wine (directly from the Plaza cellar, which offers more than 1,700 choices) or a light meal, guests can visit the Terrasse Montaigne, facing the famous ‘haute couture’ avenue in a setting full of greenery. Last but not least, guests can wind down at the Bar of the Plaza Athénée, the most daring bar in the French capital, to be … and be seen. Created in 2001, its main room is set around a long, brightly lit counter made of curved, shaped glass, like an enormous iceberg that lights up when you touch it. High, Louis XV style metal stools with leather seats, Murano glass micro-chandeliers and long polished stainless steel tables are set facing it. The bar is famous for is unique cocktails and the ‘Red and Blue’ hours, with electro rock nights from Thursday to Saturday.

The 100th anniversary of the Plaza Athénée: A day to remember

Since its opening in 1913, the Plaza Athénée has remained a symbol of the French art of hospitality, gastronomy and Parisian glamour. On April 20, 2013, one hundred years to date after the hotel’s inauguration, the celebration proved once again that the palace has remained in the tradition of luxury – both timeless and modern.

After a visit to the first floor where the florists, housekeepers, French polisher, John Lobb service and children’s services were presented in a succession of suites, the guests got to enjoy a party in true Parisian style.

In the Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée restaurant, they could admire the wonderful pyramid of 650 flutes created by Moët & Chandon and reaching a height of 11.4 feet, before moving on to the Garden Courtyard.

There, an impressive and elegantly decorated 26-foot high giant cake, made especially for the day, bore the message ‘100 years – Happy Birthday, Plaza Athénée’. Beyond that were mouthwatering displays of bakery, cake-making and mixology.

After a speech by François Delahaye, a time capsule arrived, with Sex and the City playing in the background (an acknowledgement of the series that filmed one of its last episodes at the Plaza Athénée); a selection of objects representative of the hotel since its creation were put in the capsule. Among them were a vintage 1911 Moët & Chandon champagne bottle, a valet’s whistle dating from 1913, a bailiff’s chain of office, and a set of Cardex records from the 1970s showing names such as ‘Mr. Frank Sinatra’ and ‘Mr. Elton John’.

The ceremony ended on a high note with the release of 100 red balloons, a delight for the assembled guests and an expression of hope for the next 100 years.

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