Famed Hotel Lutetia Re-opens in Paris After €200m Makeover

Date: June 2018

Location: Left Bank, Paris, France

Name: Hotel Lutetia – five star, re-opening July 2018

No. of Keys: 184, including 47 suites (was 233 rooms)

Who: Owned by Set Hotels of Israel, with sister hotels in London (Cafe Royal) and Amsterdam (The Conservatoire)

History: The historic Lutetia hotel, where Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso once stayed, will re-open in July after a 200 million-euro (176 million pounds) revamp aimed at making it fit to take on the fierce competition in Paris.

Opened in 1910 on the initiative of the Advisory board of the department store “Le Bon Marché” for their important clients, the Lutetia hotel is significant in the history of Paris for being a transition from the Art Nouveau of the day to the then emerging style of Art Deco.

The hotel when it opened in 1910…note the detail on the roofline

The Hotel is located at 45 Boulevard Raspail, in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of the 6th arrondissement of Paris, one of the best-known hotels in the history of Paris on the Left Bank.

The architects at the time, commissioned sculptor Léon Binet and later, Paul Belmondo (father of actor, Jean-Paul Belmondo) to decorate the hotel’s facade in the ‘Art Nouveau’ style comprising branch-like depictions with imposing floral details intermingling with grape vines and grape clusters.

The Lutetia quickly became a place where the anonymous could be found alongside the famous, where art, philosophy, science and politics were continually created, discreetly and without ostentation.

A place of intellect; a place of experiment, gifted for creating and developing ideas. Shortly after the Lutetia opened, its early success was interrupted by the First World War and later again in June 1940, when the French government evacuated the occupied city.

The hotel itself (like other Palace Hotels in Paris) was requisitioned during the Second World War by the occupation forces and used to house, feed, and entertain the troops and officers.

In 1944, the Lutetia resumed its intended role and at the orders of General de Gaulle, the hotel became a crucial centre for displaced people and families seeking to be reunited with their loved ones. The hotel welcomed up to 2,000 arrivals each day.

Now: The city already has a cluster of elite hotels, after renovations of The Ritz and The Crillon and the arrival of Asian-operated rivals like the Shangri-La, Mandarin Oriental Paris and Peninsula Paris.

But the 108-year-old Lutetia has an advantage: it is the sole luxury hotel on the Left Bank, the traditional home of writers, painters, poets and random bohemians, Jean-Luc Cousty, its general manager, told Reuters.

The new five-star Lutetia will re-open on July 12 with a spa, indoor pool and jazz bar with a frescoed ceiling.

Just two or three years ago, opening a luxury hotel would have been wildly optimistic. Tourists had fled France after a series of attacks blamed on Islamist militants – in November 2015 alone, assaults in Paris killed 130 people.

Occupancy rates of Paris luxury hotels fell 15 percent to 52 percent in 2016.

Now the tourist are coming back. Occupancy recovered to 55 percent in 2017 and may reach 65 percent in three or four years, according to luxury property specialist Jones Lang Lasalle.

Lutetia hopes to get its share. It aims for average occupancy of 50 to 55 percent, eventually rising to 65 to 70 percent, Cousty said.

“Americans made up a third of our guests before the revamp -they should account for half now,” he said. “The French should stay at 10 percent, with Japan and Korea around 6 to 7 percent.”

The new guests will pay rates starting at 850 euros a night, rising to 19,000 euros for the two-bedroom Presidential suite. Before the revamp, when the Lutetia was a four-star hotel, the average rate was 300 euros.

But the competition will be ferocious. The supply of luxury hotels on the Right Bank will have risen by more than 70 percent between 2008 and 2020.

“The overall market will never return to what it was before 2008 (when occupancy rate was 75 percent), because capacity has sharply increased,” said Gwenola Donet, head of France for JLL Hotels & Hospitality.”

THPT Comment: Never say Never (Ms JLL France)! I have to admit to being a huge fan of The Lutetia (as was) and art deco/art deco hotels…this hotel was probably my favourite and almost certainly will be when it reopens!

First Seen: Reuters