Fodor's Expert Review Hôtel Balzac

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Old-style service, Eiffel Tower views, and superlative dining are the biggest draws at this grand dame hotel named for the distinguished writer, who spent his final days here. Though well located on an elegant street a few steps from the Champs-Élysées, those seeking a more contemporary luxury experience may think twice, as rooms and baths have not been fully updated in this century.

YOU SHOULD KNOW Some suites have smallish balconies with street and Eiffel Tower views, but the Royal Suite, the hotel's largest and priciest, takes the cake, with its sizeable balcony and fabulous views of the Iron Lady.


The decor is definitely a throwback to another time with some clumsy efforts at modernization, in colorful throw pillows and bedspreads. This isn't so noticeable in the grander rooms. Some corner suites have Eiffel Tower views, but the decor isn't quite as elegant, or well preserved.


Marble baths are beautiful to be sure but some fixtures, though quite regal, have seen better days (the hotel is upgrading). But you can expect all the luxe amenities of a 5-star hotel.


Sparkling chandeliers, antique tapestries, and jewel-toned damask create a lovely vibe in the lobby which is kept buffed to a high gloss.


With three Michelin stars under his toque Pierre Gagnaire is pretty much a household name among Parisian epicures, and his eponymous restaurant is a rite of passage for those who really want to experience what haute cuisine is all about in Paris. Gagnaire is famous for absorbing the latest trends and techniques into his repertoire (molecular gastronomy, vegetable-centric fare) and making them his own in a cuisine of exquisite refinement. The low-lit wood-paneled dining room is a cozy, unpretentious spot for a meal you will not soon forget.

An à la carte breakfast is served in a bright and welcoming downstairs dining room with a pleasant view over the street.

YOU SHOULD KNOW Breakfast is expensive. You can save some cash for a blowout dinner by opting for a nearby café instead.


The hotel's small bar and lounge, satellites to the stellar Pierre Gagnaire restaurant, are best for a pre-dinner apèro.


Getting Around

A five-minute walk to the George V metro station serving line no. 1, Paris's fast central line, and five minutes from Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, which takes you direct to the Trocadéro.

This is an ideal area if you want to be near the Champs-Élysées yet also close enough to transport and stellar high-end shopping. Though in a relatively peaceful upscale area, you're near the heart of the Triangle d'Or, with some of the city's most glamorous shopping, and within easy walking distance of the rue Saint-Honoré, another shopping hotspot. You're within walking distance to the Musée Jacquemart André, the Tuileries gardens, the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, and L'Orangerie (home of Monet's most famous Waterlilies) and the Jeu de Paume photography museum, both at Place de la Concorde.


If you're on a fine dining binge, this is your neighborhood as some of Paris's greatest gastronomic restaurants—mostly in other hotels—are an easy walk away, including Le George, at the Four Seasons George V, La Scène, at Prince des Galles, Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée, and their wonderful Art Deco bistro Le Relais Plaza with its popular Wednesday jazz nights. If these exceed your splurge fund, three-star chef Eric Frechon of Le Bristol designed the menu at Mini Palais, housed in the Grand Palais, whose all-day and late-night hours and outdoor terrace make it a neighborhood favorite (10 minutes by foot).


Marta, at the newly refurbished Hotel Barrière Le Fouquet on the Champs-Élysées, is a luxe, tranquil spot to settle in for a few drinks or for the evening. The marble bar at Le Drugstore is glamorous in a more hip, energetic way, but the drinks and wines by the glass are top-notch (both five minutes from the hotel).


A gracious hotel by any standard, its elegance may be that of a bygone era, but it is elegance nonetheless. With one of the city's legendary dining rooms on the premises, gourmands may be tempted to forego the latest Italian showers.




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