ON walking into the lobby of Paris’ George V you can tell it’s a grande dame, but it has a twist which makes it immediately memorable.
There’s the immaculately designed wrought-iron door frame, 17th century tapestries adorning the walls and acres of marble lining the floors, but it is far from stuffy. Smartly-suited staff smile instead of glaring at guests and your eyes are bombarded with colour thanks to a weekly shipment of 17,000 roses and lilies, which stand in giant art deco glass vases. At Christmas scenes from Snow White are projected onto a high-tech waterfall of mist in the courtyard.
The George V has been steeped in Parisian history since it opened in 1928. In the 60s, Marlene Dietrich booked a suite for years at a time in the hotel and it was here that Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote Can’t Buy Me Love.
However, perhaps the most significant development in the hotel’s history came in 1996 when Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bought it from the Granada Group for €141m. Alwaleed is a technophile with stakes in Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola and he gave the hotel a complete makeover which integrated modern conveniences into its storied structure.
Chandeliers in rooms illuminate both the renaissance artwork on the walls and the bedside Bose sound system. There are high-definition flatscreen televisions and wi-fi throughout.
The spa evokes the atmosphere of a Roman baths with urns at poolside, columns lining the walls, a fresco of gardens painted between them with a blue sky and clouds on the ceiling. But when you get to the changing rooms you won’t even need to dry your swimsuit, since there’s a device to take care of that automatically.
After a while relaxing in the whirlpool a waiter arrives with a complimentary bottle of Evian, making me wonder whether I had ordered it. In the rooms, housekeeping place a marker in the page of my bedside book instead of the corner I had folded down to remind me of my place.
However, it’s hard to avoid the hotel’s grandeur. Rooms on the upper floors of the hotel enjoy a sweeping panorama of the Parisian skyline from the Sacré Coeur to the Eiffel Tower whilst those on lower floors have huge terraces overlooking the fashionable Avenue George V with its Louis Vuitton and Hermes stores. Even the elevators have walls lined with padded tapestries but you pay the price for it.
The George V doesn’t pretend to be cheap and it isn’t. The most basic rooms start at €825 per night and we can all dream of staying in the presidential suite which, at €11,000 per night, comes complete with cardiovascular equipment, a steam bath and a sauna. If you want to pretend you are a celebrity or royalty there’s no better place to stay.
Eurostar operates up to 18 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare de Nord with return fares from £69. See eurostar.com or call 08432 186 186. Rooms at the George V can be booked on www.fourseasons.com or by calling Four Seasons on 0800 6488 6488.