Hotel Lutetia was the first ever hotel on Paris’ South Bank and from its opening in 1910, was the place to stay in Paris. Through the Art Nouveau style, then moving onto Art Deco, and the standing history of it welcoming deportees waiting to go home at the end of the second world war, to being a meeting place for movements such as existentialism in the 50’s, and a hub for writers such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett; Hotel Lutetia has a rich history behind it.
The hotel has recently undergone a renovation sympathetic to this heritage, and the important task was entrusted to Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the internationally- renowned architect, urbanist and designer. He said: “The challenge facing us was to breathe new life into an establishment while respecting its roots, its identity and its personality.”
To revive the hotel’s charm, Jean-Michel Wilmotte and his firm worked on a new way of moving about the hotel by completely changing the layout of the ground floor areas. The number of rooms was also reduced from 233 to 184, freeing up the space to create 47 suites including seven signature suites, to meet the modern requirements of a luxury hotel.
Technology also plays a big, if discreet, role with the idea being not just to bring The Lutetia up to the standards of current regulations, but also to excel in the ecological aspect, especially in terms of energy efficiency and waste water recycling.
The interior design was also a complex and exciting challenge. To renovate the legendary decor, on the cusp of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, and bring it into the 21st century, the architect revived what was hidden and reinvented what no longer existed. This meticulous work was approached with the help of the architects Perrot & Richard.
This sleek space with its 1920s look is still the backbone of the hotel, connecting with the lobby and the ground floor salons. The Art Deco walls, floor, mouldings, and ironwork have been perfectly restored and occasionally emphasised by a photo brought out of the archives or a text from the past.
Nestled at the heart of The Lutetia, the library is beautifully discreet and bathed in gentle natural light. It is home to superb new editions of Gio Ponti’s armchairs (emblematic of the 1960s), a fireplace, and over 1,600 books. Here, novels and books on cinema, travel, decoration and fashion await fans of literature and the arts.
The Patio, which was previously a windowless salon, is now a well of light which illuminates the new Lutetia and was created to bring in more light, and have it filter into the building – it also doubles up as a perfect view of the façade. Paved with mosaics, with the watermark of the historical logo on the ground, the Patio (like the rest of the hotel) is decorated with non-allergenic and air-cleansing plants locally sourced from the Greater Paris region.
Eateries include Bar Joséphine, Saint Germain and The Brasserie Lutetia. These different areas, which manage to be both grandiose and cosy and are open throughout the day, serve the delicate dishes of the Executive Chef Benjamin Brial. Fans of cocktails can head for Bar Joséphine to meet Nicola Battafarano, maestro bartender and famous mixologist on the Parisian and international scene. The Brasserie, is where Michelin-starred chef Gérald Passedat will unveil his unique recipes inspired by the Mediterranean. Restored to recover the spaces’ original 1910 layout over two floors the restaurant can welcome up to 180 people. The Bar Aristide will open in January 2020 and will be devoted to sampling the very best liquors and spirits.
Room design revolves around blue and raw silk or beige-grey tones. There is a dominance of blue, the colour of the sea and Jean-Michel Wilmotte’s favourite shade, for those overlooking the rue de Sèvres and the boulevard Raspail. The raw-silk colour features in those overlooking the interior courtyard.
Doors and furniture are in polished eucalyptus, there are elegant and subtle ornaments, spacious cupboards – ensuring each room offers a welcoming and contemporary atmosphere. The superb Art Deco style furniture is inspired by the 1930s, designed by J.M. Wilmotte and specially created for the hotel, notably by Poltrona Frau. The Murano glass wall lights echo the bas-relief works of the “Cotton Club” series by Philippe Garnier de la Baudinière. The bathrooms are spacious and light (95% of the hotel bathrooms have a window) and decorated with rare Calacatta marble which has an unsurpassed ivory white colour. These beautiful spaces are an invitation to relax under a rain of water in an Italian-style shower or in the huge marble bath.
Hotel Lutetia is now continuing to thrive, and to discover more, visit: https://www.hotellutetia.com/