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The Good Life

The Peninsula Paris Hotel

By Mervyn Rothstein | From Jeremy Piven, March/April 2016
The Peninsula Paris Hotel

Ernest Hemingway famously described Paris as "a moveable feast." Well, at the Peninsula Paris hotel, you don't have to move. It's all there, the essence of elegance, including a luxurious cigar lounge that epitomizes the hotel's spirit.

A combination of Old World charm and 21st century sophistication, it offers a design banquet of exquisite period details, crystal chandeliers, dramatic modern art, vases everywhere filled with fresh flowers and a flowing glass sculpture suspended from the ceiling near the reception desk. Actual feasts come at its restaurants, including one in the lobby, with Belle Époque décor, and a rooftop location with a panoramic view.

Located just down the Avenue Kléber from the Arc de Triomphe, the hotel began life in 1908 as the Hotel Majestic and has hosted such notables as Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Proust, James Joyce and George Gershwin. In 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed there, ending the Vietnam War. 

The Kléber Lounge is a combination of two rooms off the lobby that are designed to make you feel as privileged as a hotel guest (which you needn't be) could be. Behind the marble bar in the outer room is a sparkling glass cabinet with bottles of Cognac, Armagnac, rum, Calvados and fine whiskeys. On the right is a glass-enclosed floor-to-almost-ceiling bookcase that is actually a humidor full of Cohiba Robustos, Esplendidos, Siglo IIs and Siglo IVs; Montecristo Nos. 2 and 4, Partagás; Romeo y Julietas; and other favorite shapes and labels—about "60 different sizes, 500 cigars, 85 percent Cuban and 15 percent from the Dominican Republic," according to Johan Lejeune, the chief bar manager. A Montecristo No. 4 costs 22 euros, a Cohiba Robusto 38 euros. (You can bring your own if you wish.) The Kléber Bar (pictured) is just down the hall.

Inside the lounge itself is a tall Baccarat floor lamp, dove gray and pale gray walls, black and white marble tables, brown leather chairs and sofa, and an imposing gold and black cabinet that opens top and bottom to reveal a TV. You call on a phone for food and drink, which arrive through a valet box. Private humidors for regular guests occupy another wall. (If you prefer to puff outdoors, Lejeune says, cigar smokers are welcomed on two outer terraces that are heated in winter.)

The Peninsula Paris, the Peninsula chain's first European hotel, opened in August 2014 after a multimillion-euro renovation. The hotel has 200 rooms, including 34 suites, with an emphasis on gray and cream and high-gloss lacquer. There's a spa, a fitness center and an indoor pool. Rates start in the neighborhood of 800 euros a night and jump to several thousand a night for the Garden Suite.

Visit paris.peninsula.com

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