The rue de la Paix is home to some of the most expensive jewelry stores, shops, and hotels in the heart of Paris, and it’s also the most expensive property in the French version of Monopoly. I was surprised to find a reasonably priced luxury hotel – the Hotel Westminster – in this very high rent district.
The Hotel Westminster is located between the Opera Garnier, of Phantom of the Opera fame, and the Place Vendome in front of the Ritz, famed as the residence of Coco Chanel for decades and the hotel where Princess Diana dined before her car accident trying to escape the paparazzi. It’s also right next door to Cartier. This is one fine neighborhood to stay in.
Dating back to 1807, the hotel was named for the Duke of Westminster, honoring his patronage during the 1800s. Look closely and you’ll see his coat of arms discretely worked into the decor. (I didn’t spot it and had to ask.) The hotel facade, which was undergoing a clean up during our visits, is in the Haussmann style. If you aren’t familiar with the Haussmann facade, just look around – it’s the style making up over half of the buildings in Paris and features a high ceiling ground level floor, balconies, window boxes, and wrought iron detailing. Named for Baron Georges-Eugene, the architect responsible for the urban renewal of Paris in the mid-18th century, it’s a hallmark of the historic buildings in the city.
We stayed two nights at the 77-room Hotel Westminster, the first following an overnight flight from the U.S. and the second, before leaving on an early flight to return to the U.S.
We’re used to arriving in Europe in the morning hours and not being able to check into our hotel until late in the afternoon. Although we couldn’t check-in at the Hotel Westminster immediately upon arrival, the front desk clerk advised that we could store our bags and if we went out for a mid-morning coffee and croissant, the room would be ready for us upon our return.
He was right. We walked a couple of blocks to rue Saint-Honore, found a cafe, and when we returned our room was ready. We were upgraded to a junior suite (room 504), accessed by a very small, old-style elevator or a circular staircase.
The suite had the main living space with a couch and chairs, desk and writing space, television, and gas fireplace. It was a comfortable spot to sit and relax and have a glass of wine. Since Paris was in the midst of a heatwave, we didn’t give the fireplace a try, but I could imagine it would make the room glow with coziness on a dreary Paris winter day. Our room overlooked the inner garden of the hotel, which meant it was quiet and peaceful. Other rooms overlook Place Vendome and Rue Daunou, and while the view is amazing, they can be a bit noisier.
The bedroom had a King-sized bed (in France, this is usually two single beds pushed together and is not necessarily the most comfortable bed option), a chair, television, and large closet. Wifi is complimentary in both the guestrooms and the common areas.
The large bathroom had marble features, a sunken tub with a showerhead, a toilet and bidet, robes, and lots of fluffy towels. No scrimping on amenities here, Bulgari toiletries served as a reminder of our luxurious neighborhood. You can bet that the unused portions went home with us.
On our return stay, we were in a signature room on the second floor. Although smaller in size, the room featured the same posh decor and upscale amenities. The second floor, once known as the noble floor (there were no elevators and the noble class would only have to walk up one flight of stairs) is accessed via a circular staircase or the small elevator.
Rooms are decorated in styles ranging from Louis XV and Louis XVI to Napoleon III and Regency era. No two rooms are the same, each featuring individual touches of vases, marble mantlepieces, and art.
The Hotel Westminster spa is located on the 5th floor and features treatment rooms, sauna, exercise area, and relaxation area. It was unattended when I popped in, but the facility was accessible via keycard and open for guest use.
On the first floor are two food and beverage option – Duke’s Bar and Le Celadon.
Duke’s Bar, also names for the Duke of Westminster, is an English pub-style bar decorated in dark wood and shades of green. It evokes a club-like feel – warm and inviting – like you’re an insider, like you belong in this elegant world of history and luxury.
Passing through Duke’s you reach Le Celadon which features classic French cuisine. The decor is French Regency, a light an airy feel with lots of plants and flowers. It’s casually elegant by day and formal elegance by night.
Most room rates include breakfast, and elaborate affair staged in the entryway to Le Celadon. Seating is available in both the restaurant and the bar. The buffet features the delicious breads and pastries associated with Paris, along with traditional and hearty breakfast fare. Yogurts, cereal, fruit, and lighter, healthier options are available. Table service provides coffee or tea.
The Hotel Westminster is located at 13 Rue de la Paix, 75002 Paris (second arrondissement). It is part of the Warwick Hotels and Resorts Group. Rates start around $225 per night, a veritable steal in this neighborhood. Youc an also compare rates and book through an online booking site such as Expedia.