Suite Wars: Paris

We seek out the five sweetest suites in a city where the standards of luxury and hospitality are redefined every day.

By Ayesha Khan


For today’s VIP traveller, it is not nearly enough for five-star deluxe hotels to offer the biggest, most elaborate, most exclusive suites. The service associated with these ultra-luxe accommodations also must be unrivalled. And so, the world’s finest hotels are constantly competing to eclipse one another with their menus of luxury offerings. The competition has manifested itself in what is affectionately coined the Suite Wars. Allow us to acquaint you with our selection of the sweetest suites in the world’s most important cities.

 Sketches by Christian Dior, the Maitre de la Mode who made a legend of the Plaza Athénée, dapple the walls.

Paris is the world’s most romantic city where priceless artwork, haute fashion, the finest gastronomy and a handful of prized architectural gems vie for attention. Our tour of the City of Light begins at Place Vendôme, home to luxury joaillieries, parfumeurs and more fashion houses than you can recite in one breath. For over a century, the Ritz Paris has enchanted illustrious guests from Gianni Versace to Ernest Hemingway with great service and César Ritz’s inimitable design. The 162-room hotel offers several notorious suites from the Elton John Suite to the Coco Chanel Suite, where the grande couturière lived from 1930 until her death in 1971. But, the finest among them is the Imperial Suite, a two-bedroom homage to Versailles and the Grand Siècle. This exclusive 655-square-foot first-floor apartment overlooks Place Vendôme. Twenty-foot ceilings, exquisite bas-reliefs, wood panelling and period gilding preside over its two bedrooms and grand salon. The first bedroom mimics Marie Antoinette’s room at Versailles, while the second chambre channels Louis XVI. Details such as personal wine cellars, cosmetics fridges and embroidered robes in the boudoir bathroom make it easy to relate to Hemingway’s claim: “when I dream of heaven and the afterlife the action always takes place at the Ritz.”

Meanwhile, another truly Parisian luxury experience awaits guests at Place de la Concorde in the city’s chic 8th arondisement. Just steps away from the glitz of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Rue Royale and Buddha Bar, Hotel de Crillon’s location is unbeatable. Surely Marie Antoinette, who enjoyed piano lessons at this hotel, would have agreed that the elaborate interiors compliment its location. And, the fact that the famed Bals de Debutantes takes place at the Crillon makes the hotel all the more desirable. The finest suite is aptly named after one of its most famous patrons, Leonard Bernstein. It even houses one of the maestro’s pianos. Unabashedly drenched in the finest Frey and Le Lelièvre fabrics, trompe l’oeil ceilings, gold-framed antique paintings and Louis XV finery by French designer Sybille de Margerie, what makes this suite most attractive-especially for the likes of Madonna, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Onassis-is that it can be linked to the adjacent, and equally sumptuous, Louis XV Suite for a grand total of three bedrooms, four bathrooms, one sauna, two salons, two private bars, a cigar humidor and a kitchenette.

A stroll down the Champs-Élysées onto Avenue George V reveals one more of Paris’s impeccable hotels. A landmark 1920s building, the Four Seasons George V is world-famous for its unparalleled service and timeless décor, which was recently reinterpreted by architect Richard Martinet and interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. The hotel’s two first-floor Royal Suites pull out all the stops when it comes to luxury and exclusivity. The 1080- to 1250-square-foot suites are adorned with the finest 18th- and 19th-century appointments. A generous foyer fully clad in marble opens to an oversized living room and dining area with seating for eight. A large bathroom adjoins each bedroom and a guest powder room is located off the living space. A fully equipped kitchen, private office and expansive master bedroom, with a walk-in closet large enough for private hairdressing, round out the suite’s facilities. But that is not all. Overlooking the historic Art Deco Fountain of the Three Graces, a grand terrace provides the perfect overture for an already superior suite.

Arguably the most charming of Paris’s grand hotels is Le Meurice. Its Rue de Rivoli location makes it truly exclusive. Brilliant views of the Louvre, Jardin des Tuileries, Musée d’Orsay and Sacré Coeur can be best enjoyed on the expansive 985-square-foot wraparound terrace of the Belle Étoile Suite where stone floors, plush deck furniture and ample greenery accent the restful spirit. Inside, precious wood-marquetry antiques, reminiscent of Charles X, give this charismatic Parisian apartment an air of early 19th-century style. A private elevator leads to the 690-square-foot duplex suite featuring a foyer, a living room, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a butler’s quarters. The most impressive room in this suite is the master bathroom. Its sprawling layout accommodates a Jacuzzi, a separate multiple-jet shower and the most breathtaking fifth-floor views of Paris and its omnipresent jardins.

Finally, we complete our magnificent Tour de Paris with a true Parisian treat. The Plaza Athénée. This swanky “palace of tomorrow”, with its iconic red awnings and geranium filled windows, offers its guests the best views of the Eiffel Tower, the fashion houses of Avenue Montaigne and the nearby Champs-Élysées. The interior décor is impeccable. Sketches by Christian Dior, the Maitre de la Mode who made a legend of the Plaza Athénée, dapple the walls. Coincidentally, his boutique is just steps away. With a range of luxury options from which to choose, the suite experience at this hotel is truly spectacular. If 18th- and 19th-century French opulence is not your thing, try the Art Deco Eiffel Suite for a slightly more contemporary, discreet environment. As the name would suggest these accommodations offer the best Eiffel Tower views of any suite in the capital. A recent renovation upgraded the suite to include the latest technology-it even has a wall of glass in the bathroom, which can be made opaque at the touch of a button. From the rooftop terrace, this penthouse suite offers sweeping 360-degree views of Paris. Desiring more extravagance? Visit the hotel’s Royal Suite. The largest suite in the city, a staggering 1640-square-feet, it is kitted out with a private office, two Italian-mosaic-clad bathrooms with Turkish baths, at least eight plasma screen TVs-one is cleverly concealed within the bathroom mirror-and remote-controlled lighting.