After 69 years as a bastion of elegance and power in the heart of Paris, the grand George V hotel closed in 1997 for a $125 million renovation. Now, owned by Saudi Arabian Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and under the management of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the hotel has emerged modernized for the new millennium. After a three-month trial period, the property's official reopening will take place on March 30.
Responsibility for renovating the Art Deco property, opened in 1928, was given to French decorator Pierre-Yves Rochon. The result is a cool, gleaming, luxury hotel in the Four Seasons mold, with lots of pale marble and sumptuous fabrics.
While some of the hotel's collection of antiques and objects d'art, acquired over the years, were retained to decorate public spaces and private rooms, many of the treasures were sold shortly after George V closed. Of its Art Deco roots, only the hotel's wrought-iron balustrade and landmark stone facade remain. The loyal clientele of the original George V may lament the loss of the endearing pastiche of styles that imbued the hotel with warmth and character.
The transformed Four Seasons Hotel George V, as the property is now known, has a reduced number of rooms and suites--from 300 down to 245. Accommodations range in size from 420 square-feet to 4,000 square-feet, and feature classic French decor in pale colors, marble bathrooms and technological conveniences such as fax/modem connections.
Off the lobby, the cozy Le Bar--with its marble fireplace, carved wood paneling and comfortable leather armchairs--recreates the English ambience of the hotel's original bar. On the level below is a new spa and fitness center.
To head its restaurant, Le Cinq, the hotel lured Michelin three-star chef Philippe Legendre away from the legendary Taillevent in Paris. A recent lunch at Le Cinq included chestnut mousse topped with black truffles, and medallions of lamb stuffed with savoy cabbage and foie gras, accompanied by Chbteau Talbot 1949 from the hotel's 20,000-bottle cellar. Sommelier Eric Beaumard oversees the 800-wine list.
Four Seasons Hotel George V
31 avenue George V
75008 Paris, France
U.S. reservations: (800) 322-3442
Room rates: from $570 for a double to $7,200 for the Presidential Suite.
Read more about Philippe Legendre and Taillevent: