Why Paris’ Hôtel Plaza Athénée Is the Key to Haute Living

Paris has no shortage of architectural icons. But few are quite as vibrant or charming as the Hôtel Plaza Athénée, with its signature red awnings and coordinating balcony planters and window boxes, flush with geraniums. Like most well-known spots in the city, it is steeped in history: Some time after Jean Gabin and Marlene Dietrich ended their love affair, the actress purchased an apartment across the street. The next time Gabin booked a room at the hotel, still thinking of Dietrich, he asked the concierge to place hundreds of red roses on his balcony so the actress couldn’t possibly miss the signal. The hotel came up short on the long-stemmed blooms, but had plenty of geraniums in the desired shade.

la galerie

The elegant La Galerie, an all-day restaurant at the hotel.

Mark Read

It’s safe to say that the service is still very much top-notch, and the Plaza Athénée’s location on the famed Avenue Montaigne makes it a draw for some of fashion’s biggest names. “Before our guests arrive, we research them in order to be as precise as possible in our amenities,” says Isabelle Maurin, the hotel’s communications director of more than two decades. So if your Instagram account reveals an enviable bag collection, you may check in to find an assortment of handbag-shaped cookies or chocolates. Looking to jump the queue at the Chanel boutique? “The password is ‘Plaza Athénée,’” says Maurin, noting that the hotel staff is very well acquainted with all the managers at the city’s designer boutiques. Fashion Week is a particularly festive time, with a seat at the bar rivaling a front-row ticket to many a fashion show (order a Rose Royale, the signature cocktail of champagne, raspberry puree, and a third, secret ingredient) and with themed decorations throughout the property. For the ultimate experience, the Haute Couture Suite (Room 361) offers a perfectly framed view of the Eiffel Tower.

dior model

A Dior model outside the hotel entrance.

Courtesy of the Association Willy Maywald/ADGAP Paris

Yves Saint Laurent was also a regular, dining each Sunday night at the hotel’s restaurant with his dog, but few have left as lasting an impression as Christian Dior. The couturier apparently chose a location nearby on the Avenue Montaigne for his maison, as he’d heard that the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and Plaza Athénée were hot spots for notable American visitors such as the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Kennedys. “Mr. Dior often photographed his models in front of the hotel,” Maurin explains. And the inspiration for the house’s famous Bar suit? Look no further than the hotel’s chic watering hole.

More From ELLE

preview for Watch Our Newest Videos
dior spa

The revamped Dior Spa

Courtesy of Parfums Christian Dior

That legacy continues this September with the reopening of the Dior Spa. First unveiled in 2008, the Plaza Athénée location was the first in France. The revamped space features muted tones with cloud motifs, accented by branded toile pillows and throws. Also on-site: a boutique featuring the house’s LaCollection Privée perfumes and the exclusive Dior Spa product range, Solutions Professionnelles. It’s the perfect place to decompress, whether you have a packed show schedule (tailored facials and massages offer a truly “couture”experience) or are simply jet-lagged (the Light Suite is a Paris first, and helps regulate sleep cycles with lighting that adjusts your circadian rhythms). In any event, it’s a surefire way to put your best face forward when you head to Le Bar.

This story appears in the September 2023 issue of ELLE.


Headshot of Naomi Rougeau

Naomi Rougeau is ELLE’s senior fashion features editor.


Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar