This discreet luxury hotel was built in 1925 to cater to travelers spending a season abroad in Paris, so every space is generously proportioned for long, lavish stays, and impeccable service reflects an Old World ethic. The rooftop terrace, home to a gastronomic restaurant and popular champagne bar, offers stunning panoramic views of the city.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The spirit of the hotel, and the decor, is that of an elegant Grand Dame that remains much as it was in its mid-20th-century heyday, which means it lacks certain modern amenities—a spa, pool, and fitness room, to be exact. Some will see this as a part of its charm, others may not.
Truly immense guest rooms, most with six-foot-tall windows, are decorated with authentic 18th- and early-19th-century antiques, oriental rugs, murals, silk damask wallpapers and curtains, and ornately carved wood paneling. Though rooms are kept up-to-date with regard to TV, Wi-Fi, etc., they still reflect another (more elegant) era.
Many fourth and fifth floor rooms have spacious balconies, some with Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe views. Be sure to inquire when booking.
Marble bathrooms are remarkably large and elegant, and many have claw-foot tubs and walk-in showers. Toilets are separate.
Some bathrooms open onto the balcony, almost unheard of in Paris.
A grand wood-panelled lobby befitting a five-star hotel displays master paintings (including an original Turner) and plenty of cushy sofas and chairs to sink into.
Unlike many five-star hotels in Paris, The Raphael does not have a spa, pool, or fitness center.
Despite the wood panelling, oriental rugs, lots of flowers, and white linen give Le 17, the hotel's gastronomic restaurant is surprisingly relaxed. Dishes are beautifully presented, without being too fussy, and delicious. Weather permitting, you'll probably opt for Le Terrace rooftop restaurant and champagne bar and mingle with the locals, who consider it one of their secrets for the splendid 360-degree views of the city.
A five-minute walk to Étoile metro and RER station, serving line no. 1, Paris's fast central line, and RER C direct to Versailles. Although five minutes from the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysees, this is not the most convenient location for those wishing to get to Paris's major sights on foot or for an eclectic choice of restaurants at your fingertips. Art lovers, you will find some hidden gems in the neighborhood—for example, the fabulous Musée Dapper for African Art and the Musée d'Ennery, one of Paris's great hidden gems. But, if you're prepared to hop on the metro, or jump in cabs, you'll be perfectly happy in this serene upscale neighborhood.
A quick walk away, on Ave. Victor Hugo, art deco gem Prunier Restaurant & Café's marine-themed decor is a classified monument. Open since 1872, and at this location since 1925, it boasts and the freshest seafood in the neighborhood and the best French caviar.
For something a bit more casual (but still gourmet, mind you) head to newly reopened Le Drugstore at ever-chic Drugstore Publicis shopping complex (5-minute walk, at 133 Ave. Champs-Élysées). With 3-star chef Eric Frechon at the helm, this is gourmet comfort food at its best.
If you tire of the amazing view from the Raphael, you can always head across the street to the Peninsula's chic rooftop bar and restaurant Le Oiseau Blanc. Or, if you prefer to have your feet on the ground, the ultra-elegant Kleber Bar, on the Peninsula's ground floor, is a fine spot for a drink and a snack or a smoke in the clandestine cigar bar.
WHY WE LIKE IT
It's reassuring in this time of light-speed change, some things endure. As hotel rooms in Paris get smaller and more streamlines it's nice to have a place where you're assured of palatial rooms with an old-world style grandeur and service.