Star French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte has overseen the overhaul of the hotel, which was built in 1910 by the founders of the department store Le Bon Marché located across from the hotel to accommodate their customers. Designed by architects Louis-Charles Boileau and Henri Tauzin in art nouveau style, the Lutetia’s interiors were later decorated in art deco style. Wilmotte’s team have ‘highlighted the original beauty by juxtaposing contemporary elements’, spokesperson Borina Andrieu told Le Figaro.
Along with 184 lavish guest rooms (including 47 suites), the five-star property features a spa with a 17m-long swimming pool, and numerous drinking and dining options, including a brasserie overseen by three Michelin–starred chef Gérald Passedat, and live jazz on weekends. These spaces will be open to the public, ensuring the Lutetia regains its place as a linchpin of Paris’ sixieme arrondissement (city district).
The Lutetia is a definitive part of the local fabric. During WWII, it accommodated refugees until the German occupation of Paris, when it was used by the Abwehr (counterintelligence) and used as a repatriation centre following the Liberation of Paris. Past patrons include writers James Joyce (who worked on Ulysses at the hotel), Hemingway, Beckett and Saint-Exupéry, artists Picasso and Matisse, and entertainer, activist and French Resistance agent Josephine Baker, as well as former presidents Charles de Gaulle (who honeymooned at the hotel and stayed overnight before he left for England to govern in exile during WWII; the hotel stored his forgotten trunk until Paris’ Liberation) and François Mitterrand.
Initially, the hotel will have a partial reopening, with its brasserie set to follow in autumn 2018. Living history doesn’t come cheap, however, with rooms starting from €850 (£747) per night.
By Catherine Le Nevez