7 Legendary Historic Hotels in London and Paris

Posted by Fodor's Editors on November 12, 2009 at 8:05:00 AM EST | Post a Comment

There are a handful of hotels in London and Paris that have obtained landmark status in the minds of locals and travelers alike. Considered timeless classics, these hotels enjoy outsized reputations and are known for their over-the-top service, regal decorative flourishes, aura of exclusivity, and their priced-for-a-prince rack rates. If you're checking in, chances are you're prepared to not quibble over cost; you're there for the experience of it all.

Have you slept in any of the hotels mentioned below? Tell us about your stay—would you do it again? What other hotels would you nominate for this list?

We've also included ideas for experiencing a sliver of these old dames' magic without acquiring a room key and trivia to keep in mind if you're just walking through.

7 Legendary Historic Hotels in London and Paris

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Claridge's, London

"Stay here, and you're staying at a hotel legend with one of the world's classiest guest lists, founded in 1812. The friendly, liveried staff is not in the least condescending, and the rooms are never less than luxurious. Enjoy a cup of tea in the lounge, or retreat to the stylish bar for cocktails..."
Read our full review or post your own

Book a room: Through January 10, stay 3 nights or more to enjoy special room rates, starting at £235 a night. (more details)
Take a peek: Take advantage of the prix-fix lunch (£30) at Gordon Ramsay
Claim to fame: One guest, Katherine Hepburn, was unable to enter the hotel through the lobby due to her daring donning of trousers, which were against the dress code for women.

Hôtel Raphael, Paris

"This discreet palace hotel was built in 1925 to cater to travelers spending a season in Paris, so every space is generously sized for long, lavish stays. The closets, for instance, have room for ball gowns and plumed hats. Guest rooms, most with king-size beds and 6-foot-tall windows, are decorated with 18th- and early-19th-century antiques, Oriental rugs, silk damask wallpaper, and ornately carved wood paneling..."
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Book a room: Through December 29, you can reserve a classic room with breakfast for €335 a night.
Take a peek: The hotel's terrace restaurant, Les Jardins Plein Ciel, boasts panoramic views of Paris, making it an ideal stop for a summertime lunch splurge.
Claim to fame: Hotel Chevalier, a short film created as a prologue to 2007's The Darjeeling Limited, was shot here.

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The Dorchester, London

"Few hotels this opulent manage to be as personable. The glamour level is off the scale: 1,500 square yards of gold leaf and 1,100 square yards of marble. Bedrooms (some not as spacious as you might expect) have Irish linen sheets on canopied beds, brocades, velvets, and Italian marble and etched-glass bathrooms with toiletries created by Floris exclusively for the Dorchester..."
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Book a room: Reserve a Superior Double Room from December 24th to January 10th starting at £285 a night. Rate includes a full English breakfast for two. (more details)
Take a peek: Stop by for a glass of champagne in the hotel's famously lush Promenade.
Claim to fame: Eisenhower planned the Normandy invasion from his suite here in 1944. A laundry list of celebrities have been guests, including Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Woody Allen, and Alfred Hitchcock.

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Ritz Hotel, Paris

"Ever since César Ritz opened the doors of his hotel in 1898, the mere name of this venerable institution has become synonymous with luxury. The famed Ritz Escoffier cooking school, where you can learn the finer points of gateaux, is here, as is the new Ritz Lounge Bar and the Hemingway Bar..."
Read our full review or post your own

Book a room: Rates start at €550 a night for a Superior class room; book 3 nights for the price of two through December 31. (more details)
Take a peek: Toast Hemingway at his namesake bar with a single malt whiskey
Claim to fame: Coco Chanel lived in a suite here from 1934 until her death in 1971.

The Connaught, London

"Many of the classic Connaught touches (the grand oak staircase, for example, and the small, elegant bars) remain, but the hotel has an elegant, modern look since a thorough 2007 renovation..."
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Book a room: Stay 3 nights or more December 18 to January 10 to take advantage of lower Winter Warmer Rates starting at £255 a night. Starting at £289 a night, the hotel's Weekend Indulgence package includes a bottle of champagne and a traditional English breakfast. (more details)
Take a peek: Select and sip a circa 19th-century cocktail, like a Champagne Cobbler, in the Coburg Bar.
Claim to fame: Each guest is assigned a personal butler to cater to their every whim.

111209-fourseasons-paris.jpgFour Seasons Hôtel George V Paris, Paris

"The George V is as poised and polished as the day it opened in 1928: the original Art Deco detailing and 17th-century tapestries have been restored, the bas-reliefs regilded, and the marble-floor mosaics rebuilt tile by tile. Rooms are decked in fabrics and Louis XVI trimmings but have homey touches like selections of CDs and French books..."
Read our full review or post your own

Book a room: Standard rates start at €730 a night through January 1, 2010.
Take a peek: The hotel's acclaimed restaurant, Le Cinq, offers a prix fixe lunch menu for €85.
Claim to fame: The hotel cost $31 million dollars to build—and it opened in 1928.

Brown's, London

"Founded in 1837 by James Brown, Lord Byron's "gentleman's gentleman," this hotel, made up of 11 Georgian town houses, holds a treasured place in London society. Lounges and dining rooms are chic and contemporary. Everything is done up in cool neutral tones of coffee and cream; all guest rooms have an office space..."
Read our full review or post your own

Book a room: From December 18 to January 10th, stay two consecutive nights and receive the third night free. Prices start from £660 for total stays in a Classic King room. (More details)
Take a peek: Agatha Cristie took afternoon tea here while writing At Bertram's Hotel; you can too for £35.
Claim to fame: Opened in 1837, Brown's is London's oldest hotel.

Posted in Trip Ideas, Hotels Tagged: London, Paris, Georgia

Member Comments (12)  Post a Comment

  • cfinjer on Nov 16, 09 at 07:02 PM

    I handle the PR for Le Meurice and Plaza Athenee in Paris, both part of the Dorchester Collection. Was surprised not to see them on this list as they both celebrate such an incredible history.. Le Meurice has been a Parisian landmark for almost two centuries hosting everyone from Salvador Dali to Coco Chanel.

    In 1911, Hôtel Plaza Athénée opened its doors, at the same time as the nearby Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. The hotel became a gathering place for the most prominent composers and performers of the era. Their Dior Institut just celebrated its first birthday and is symbolic of the history of the hotel and House of Dior that goes back over half a century.

    Hope you all can get there to experience them for yourselves!

  • traveler24 on Nov 16, 09 at 11:56 AM

    I totally agree with "rennman" It is very depressing to read about these grand places that I could not afford in my wildest dreams...Need more info on unique places.

  • Fredonia15 on Nov 13, 09 at 12:56 PM

    Le Meurice is a lovely hotel, however it must also be remembered as Nazi headquarters during WW2. Not a distinction that should prevent a great hotel from being on the list, but also not something that should be forgotten.

  • madameX on Nov 12, 09 at 08:35 PM

    Really -- Can we have some suggestions of historic hotels in a mre moderate proce range, or even somewhat expensive? I love the Lotti in Paris on the Rue Castiglione -- in the nigheborhood of the Ritz and Meurice, and not cheap, but often at a good deal. Fabulous rooms.

  • tongsa on Nov 12, 09 at 07:27 PM

    I liked the Berkeley in London, especially their breakfast room and bar; and then there is the Mandarin Oriental for service! Having said that, I do agree with Renn, Carol and others...

  • ynotc2001 on Nov 12, 09 at 07:04 PM

    You've left out Le Meurice in Paris, the first 'tourist' hotel ever built, to service British aristocracy.

  • Travellingfrog2 on Nov 12, 09 at 04:56 PM

    Agree with Rennman, Carolofla and Haileysmom... hotels for real people please, not unaffordable exclusive haunts for rock stars, toffs or investment bankers on fat expenses accounts :-)

  • Haileysmom on Nov 12, 09 at 02:50 PM

    We live in London, and it has been a source of great sadness to see what made Claridge's, Brown's, and the Connaught special stripped away in the name of "improvement" to the decor. Now these once great and unique hotels look like any other nice hotels in any other part of the world. Where once you felt as if you couldn't be anywhere but in a quintessentially English ambiance, now you could just be in Tokyo or Dubai. Pity that people with so much money and so little taste now own these properties.

  • carolofla on Nov 12, 09 at 01:02 PM

    How about doing budget hotels next. My favorite hotel in Paris where I have stayed many times just gave me a 'special' 100E a night rate!

  • rennman on Nov 12, 09 at 12:25 PM

    This is a nice summary of some fantastic hotels, but 730 euro, 550 euro a night? The folks that can routinely pay these rates don't signup for your emails. Further, no one needs Fodor's to name the Ritz or the George V as great hotels. I'd prefer some "finds" and little known hotels - this type of information would server your users much better.

  • suzyq610 on Nov 12, 09 at 11:25 AM

    My friend and I stayed at Brown's several years ago and it was an experience of a lifetime. The staff was not stuffy, as you would expect. Beleive it or not, it was a special deal and was dirt cheap. I don't think I saw it advertised ever again. What a shame.

  • kdtravel on Nov 12, 09 at 09:07 AM

    As soon as received the mail, I called the Ritz in Paris (the idea of celebrating our wedding anniversary that was a few days ago and we were unable to celebrate due to serious medical reasons was very appealing). Ritz offers 3 nights for the stay of two, not one as stated in Fodor's page. A mere 550e difference!

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