Is this one of those stuffy French hotels with snooty concierges? Well, it is a little on the posh side, and at least one front-desk old timer wears half-moon specs, all the better for looking down his nose at people who have the misfortune to be non-French. However, the hotel has made efforts to be hip, notably by hiring Philippe Starck to jazz up the lobby and guest rooms, and introduce lots of his whimsical design touches.
Any examples spring to mind? The most visible is an “ice canvas” (right) in the lobby. It features a huge gold-leaf frame that looks as if it should be hosting a Renoir, but is filled daily with ice. Guests can write their names, bons mots, or leave impressions of their hands, lips and noses in it.
Any other names associated with the hotel? Loopy Spanish artist Salvador Dali was a regular guest, staying for long spells in a suite. Something of his spirit was captured in one of the hotel’s advertising campaigns, which pictured a group of famous guests, including Humphrey Bogart, Kristin Scott Thomas and Orson Welles, seated around a table, with the one empty place explained by the caption: “Salvador Dali can’t make it, as he has ordered a bicycle from room service.”
It must be pricey; are there lots of goodies? Yes to the first, no to the second. Despite charging €550 (HK$5,500) and upwards – way upwards – the meanies at the Meurice do not even provide coffee machines in the rooms, let alone the Nespresso gadgetry that is now standard in many other five-star hotels. There is also a gouge for internet access – that will be another €20, s’il vous plait.
What are the souvenirs like? For those with deep pockets Le Meurice souvenirs include a bicycle, a scooter and a USB stick in the shape of one of its famous meringues.
Talking of food, what’s on offer? Fine dining at its absolute best, in a chandeliered room that is pure Paris. Chef Yannick Alleno is a top dog in a city of pedigree chefs; as well as exquisite gourmet food, the Michelin three-star maestro makes a mean hamburger, topped with foie gras, no less. Next door is the legendary Angelina’s tea room, which serves yummy pastries.
Where is Le Meurice, exactly? Opposite Tuileries Garden, with the Seine a five-minute stroll straight ahead, the Louvre a 10-minute amble to the left and the shopping street of Faubourg Saint-Honore directly behind, a mere two-minute Manolo-totter away.
And are the rooms fabulous, too? Totally fabulous. The decor is reassuringly classical, the beds ultra-large and the bathrooms marvellously ornate. The bathtubs are almost deep enough to swim in.
What’s the bottom line? A stay here will cost a minimum of €550.
Le Meurice is at 228 Rue de Rivoli, Paris, France, tel: 33 1 4458 1010; www.lemeurice.com.