Whoever thought of fixing flower vases permanently around columns? It is a brilliant idea, turning masculine-hard vertical lines into something more pleasing to a girl’s eye. Take the elegant Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris (all right, I KNOW I have been giving quite a bit of concentration to The Dorchester Collection over the last week, but life is never totally fair).
Walk off Avenue Montaigne and through the revolving door swished by the white-gloved hand of a beige-suited doorman and you find yourself in the lobby of the hotel that architect René Sergent designed in 1911. The first thing you notice are the stunning flowers providing a corps de ballet welcome, at a height of about six feet. Next, of course, you notice the immaculate grooming of the people behind front desk.
Color is an instant brand communication. Take Acqua di Parma orange, which is different from the Hermès colour or even Orange-orange. Think Tiffany’s ice-turquoise, or W Hotels’ distinctive purple. This is why, impartial as always, girlahead is merely black and white ….
This is a Paris fashion zone and those who work here seem even more stylish than the mannequins in the Nina Ricci boutique in the same block. Under their suits Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris’ real-life models wear scarlet somethings (T-shirts or blouses, who cares?), the exact hue of the hotel’s passport-look holder for your credit card-like door ‘key’, the same scarlet as umbrellas, and thick card shopping bags, that of course become highly collectible, and good promotion for a product. Colour says Acqua di Parma, Tiffany, W Hotels – and Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris
Back to Paris, where Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris actually puts colour in wherever it can. Do Not Disturb signs, to hang out for privacy, have scarlet surrounds. A stylish taupe leather folder on your bed holds brochures, all with colourful witty caricatures on the front, offering different pillows, or the hotel-scarlet items you can order, overnight, for yourself or your kids – or super-duper shoe cleaning by Berluti.
Once a year she invites members of her Swann Club to her 18th century headquarters in the Marais, a black-tie affair with Dom Pérignon, to clean their own shoes ‘the alcohol makes them shine, but it must be chilled; it must be a very dry, a grand champagne’, she says.
I would rather drink my champagne, perhaps a glass of Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris’ house bubbly, Champagne Alain Ducasse, produced by Lanson. I would lie back in the bathtub, in a bathroom devoid of colour.
Room 302’s bathroom was the epitome of 21st century stylish hygiene. It sparkled with white marble, with inset browns and beige marquetry around the side of the said soaking tub. You have all a girl wants, from electric heated towel rail to magnifying mirror, and hotel-special organic toiletries from the London firm Limited Edition (which also supplies the Mount Nelson, Cape Town, and a select list of other environmentally-friendly hotels). And extras like nail files are in a taupe fabric zip bag. I will drink a toast to classy style in a luxury hotel.