15 January 2019
The Hotel Lutetia, one of the most famous in Paris, is open for business again following a four-year renovation. Designed by the architects Louis-Hippolyte Boileau and Henri Tauzin, the Left Bank’s only luxury hotel opened in 1910 at the behest of Le Bon Marché, the city’s first department store, keen to create a residence worthy of its many wealthy clients in the surrounding area. It was an instant hit with Parisians in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres area, as well as figures from the art, science and political worlds, from Joyce to Camus, Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, Hemingway, Matisse, Picasso, Josephine Baker and Charles de Gaulle, for whom it was a favourite hotspot.
The meticulous and ambitious restoration project, the very first in the hotel’s history, was managed by the internationally renowned French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who has always been active in the preservation of the artistic and cultural heritage and has carried out prestigious restorations, including galleries in the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
"The challenge was to bring a place back to life while respecting its roots, its identity and its character. We discovered all the magnificent decorative work on the windows, cornices and balusters. We were sure that some extremely high quality frescoes were hidden under dozens of layers of paint. We found them, and uncovered them bit-by-bit. It was as though we had discovered a piece of the history of the building from 1910”, said Wilmotte, who revealed that contemporary artists had also worked on the building. Fabrice Hyber was responsible for the glasswork in the Salon Saint-Germain, and original frescoes by Jean Le Gac on the columns supporting the ceiling of the Brasserie narrate the story of the last 100 years.
In order to revive the spirit of the original project without compromising its fascination and historic value, Wilmotte brought in several highly acclaimed collaborators: Perrot & Richard, an architectural practice with huge experience in restoring historic buildings, Poliform Contract, which devised and furnished the communal areas (Lobby, Conciergerie, Salon Borghese, Orangerie and Brasserie), Lema Contract, which was entrusted with the bedrooms, and Porro, which produced almost all the accessories designed by Wilmotte.
The new Lutetia contains 184 rooms, 47 of which are suites, ranged over seven floors, making for an extraordinarily high-end facility. Dining options include the Bar Josephine, the Salon Saint-Germain and the Orangerie, overseen by Executive Chef Benjamin Brial, and the Brasserie, overseen by Michelin three-star chef Gerald Passedat.
Another jewel in the hotel’s crown, thanks to the renovations, is the Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre, a 700 m2 spa, with six rooms and a huge range of treatments and massages, sauna, swimming pool, Jacuzzi and a large fitness room boasting state of the art equipment.