“Hôtel Lancaster continues into the 21st century without losing its historic soul,” promises Head Concierge Eric Lemaire.
In a quiet street off the Champs-Elysées, The Lancaster– the iconic hotel built in 1889– recently reopened with a new look. In 1925, Swiss hotelier Emile Wolf acquired the handsome mansion at 7 rue de Berri, transforming it into a hotel, adding several floors to the initial building. Following the template of Grace Léo Andrieu in the ’90s, the latest renovations preserve the classic charm of the establishment — continuing an interesting dialogue with contemporary elements.
“For me, the Lancaster has always had a unique identity,” reflects Lemaire. After five months of closure due to the pandemic, the Lancaster reopened on September 1st under very strict COVID-19 protocol. “This ensures everyone’s health and safety, while minimizing the psychological impact on our guests and employees. Wearing a mask is part of the “new standards”; however, we’ve discovered that the “traditional” smile is easily replaced by eye contact, conveying a beautiful message, as well as appropriate body language.”
Lemaire continues, “The warm welcome we reserve for our customers, is important, as is the service we offer during their stay. We spend more time than before to reassure them, explain the new rules, recommend activities by calling on partners as demanding as The Lancaster in terms of COVID-19 security. We’ve noted an increase in demand for more intimate experiences such as meals served in rooms, lounges, private tours… The notion of Service, the heart of our business, is even stronger today – we must remain as efficient as before the pandemic while respecting new rules – provide the serenity our customers cherish.”
The Head Concierge’s favorite place at the Lancaster? “Without any hesitation the Front Office! Now completely renovated in the spirit of an elegant family home – the focal point of the hotel, it’s warm and animated 24/7.”
But don’t forget the gourmet restaurant. Lemaire says, “I really admire the cuisine of executive chef Sébastien Giroud in the Monsieur restaurant. He creates recipes using seasonal products, respecting nature and the environment. His Regional Menu highlights the bounty of the Hexagon. I recently discovered the velvety texture of the 2011 vintage from Château Fonroque, a Bordeaux biodynamic and organic estate, Grand Cru Classé in Saint-Emilion. It slips down well with the delicious, beautifully prepped soothing dish of Le Pigeon en tourte, served with foie gras and black truffles.”
“Guests arriving for the first time in Paris count on concierge recommendations; I may recommend a dinner cruise. The River Seine offers unique views over many incredible monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais, Musée d’Orsay, Les Invalides, the Louvre, and Notre Dame. If you add to that a yacht, cuisine, and service worthy of the finest restaurants as offered by some of our luxury partners, the experience becomes magical,” he grins. And, what does he recommend for guests who already know and love Paris? “The Paris Roof Suite at the Lancaster, breathtaking views over Paris! Oh la la ! C’est magnifique!”
And, that oh so enviable French elegance reflects in Louis XV style furniture, but there’s also Anglo-Saxon inspirations, the charm of faded colors, in shades of dusty pink, green or yellow. The renovation preserves this while there are new touches, like rugs, specially designed for the project. The diversity of furnishings, colors and styles adds character and charm to the hotel.
The Lancaster opened its doors in 1930, and instantly became the meeting place for personalities and crowned heads from Paris to Hollywood via the royal courts of Europe. Marlène Dietrich made it her home for three years, Monsieur Restaurant is named in homage to the legend’s “friend.” Other guests included Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Clark Cable, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Emile Wolf, beyond his role of perfect Maître de Maison, knew how to compose the decor commensurate with the prestige of his establishment, furnishing it with period elements where the 18th century meets the Art Deco style. Artists Boris Pastoukhoff and Felix Ziem paid for their stays with canvases, making the Lancaster’s art collection one of the finest in the Parisian hotel industry.
As if to reinforce the elements of a painting, Studio Jean Philippe Nuel’s decor features lightened parquet floors, contemporary rugs placed under 18th century bergère armchairs, minimalist lamps posed on carved Empire bedside tables. The walk-in closets are designed as cabin trunks bringing a chic minimalism contrasting with antique pieces that enhance each room. White marble bathrooms, most of which are original, nod to the 1930s. And, Boris Pastoukhoff’s portraits still hang from the walls, his elegant subjects comfortingly watching over guests.
In addition to its 44 rooms and 5 Executive Suites, the Lancaster has six Signature Suites: The Marlène Dietrich, The Monsieur, Boris Pastoukhoff, the Emile Wolf, the Felix Ziem Suite, and Monsieur Lemaire’s chou-chou – the Toits de Paris, on the 8th and last floor.
“These Suites are a reminder that the Lancaster is above all a hotel where people stay for several weeks, or even year round. Each tells a story and offers large living spaces, paying homage to the one whose name it bears. For travelers, a Hospitality Suite is at the disposal of early arrivals and late departures,” adds Monsieur Lemaire.
On the ground floor, Le Marlène Bar is a destination in itself, popular with both house guests and Parisians, who meet here for breakfast.
The exquisite salon buzzes at lunchtime when Sébastien Giroud sends out a modern mix of contemporary brasserie / healthy cuisine, there’s something for all tastes, and the bar opens onto the bucolic courtyard garden.
7 rue de Berri, 8th
Metro: George V
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 76 40 76
Rooms from €362 + breakfast
Lead photo credit : The Lancaster ® Eric Cuvillier