From Room 521 of the Hilton Paris Opera Hotel, it’s easy to know where you are – simply gaze out the window of this elegant Masters Suite and two unmistakable icons gaze back – the Eiffel Tower and the dome of the Palais Garnier Opera House.
Location, location, location. It doesn’t get much better than this. One of three Hiltons in the city centre, this property is the group’s flagship hotel in the City of Light, plum in the 8th arrondissement, with Gare Saint-Lazare, and plenty of convenient shopping and sightseeing nearby.
You can walk to Printemps and Galeries Lafeyette department stores in 10 minutes, the Champs Élysées is 20 minutes away. Major attractions such the Louvre, Jardin des Tuileries and Place de la Concorde are also within similar walking distance. The La Defense business district is a short train ride away.
It is no wonder the Hilton Paris Opera, originally called Grand Terminus Hotel and having recently undergone a 50-million-dollar makeover, has been a leading hospitality attraction for well over a century, since 1889 to be exact, the same year Gustave Eiffel’s engineering feat was open to the public, to accommodate visitors of the fourth World Fair in 1889.
Aside from central location and the historic cityscape, many other elements of this fine five-floor, 268-room hotel (including 29 suites) capture your eye.
Beyond the austere, somewhat deceiving, Haussman-style exterior you enter a magnificent, Napoleonic style Grand Salon, the hotel’s social hub, with massive glittering chandeliers and colorfully mosaic hand-painted walls, a product of the Belle Epoque era, all complemented by restored art nouveau and art moderne furniture, plus some contemporary creations such as those by Canada-based Sandrine Merienne.
Attracting tourist and business leaders alike, the room is lavishly fitted out with padded armchairs – some high-backed and throne-like creating greater privacy for those seated there – speckled marble flooring, fresh flowers, ornate statues, relaxed lighting and impressive Corinthian columns of Scottish granite with ‘emerald eyes’ supporting a 46-foot high ceiling with frescoes and skylight. A short sojourn here with a cocktail or a light meal such as a club sandwich or a salad is a memorable experience.
Aside from its clear views over the tower and the opera dome, Room 521 reflected classic décor with a separate bathroom, with both shower and tub, between the bedroom and the sitting-room. Furnishings included two televisions plus tea and coffee facilities. Toiletries were Crabtree & Evelyn with a delicate verbena and lavender soap. Gustave Eiffel’s construction is thematic, with a framed photograph of it on the sitting-room wall and an etching of it behind the bed. As some rooms look onto the train station, it’s better to ask for ones at the front of the hotel, facing the street, which have better views.
In terms of dining, Le Pain Quotidien offers a range of seasonal dishes from vegetarian platters, Caesar salad and tartines of avocado, mushrooms or chicken curry as openers to hot dishes comprising onion soup, quiche Lorraine and organic frittatas. Le Petit Bar also provides an attractive ambience and the executive lounge serves a wide range of drinks and snacks.
Children are well catered for at the hotel which has partnered with Lego to host an exhibition that sees a charming, glass-encased scaled model of the hotel made from the bricks in an alcove just off the Grand Salon, as well as an interactive Duplo installation. As for sport, while the hotel lacks a swimming pool, it does have a well-equipped 24/7 gym.
For those wanting a lively setting with a richly historic ambience that is close to many Parisian highlights, the Hilton Paris Opera Hotel is an excellent choice.