Finding equilibrium between nostalgia and futurism can be a complex thing. It’s a road riddled with potholes; one that leaves you endlessly careening around polarising arguments about heritage and growth that feel, at first glance, mutually exclusive. Can one thing exist as new, while still paying homage authentically to the past? Paris’ singular Left Bank palace hotel, Hotel Lutetia, is one such shining star. Dating back more than a century to 1910, its sensually curved exteriors house a buzzing double-height Art Deco lobby, resplendent with all the Belle Epoque grandeur and elegance of a bygone era.
The building is a romantic icon of sorts, a landmark locus that was once home to Parisian denizens like Picasso, Matisse and Josephine Baker in the 1920s. James Joyce could often be found playing Irish piano ballads at the bar; Nobel Prize-winning writer Andre Gide, a frequent diner. It was the beginning of the Jazz Age in Paris, and Hotel Lutetia was the eye of the storm – a refuge and beating bohemian heart right in the thick of the Saint-Germain action. When it closed its doors in 2014 to commence a four-year renovation— the first closure in its history — what would emerge from the chrysalis was a landmark reimagined.
Sensitively renovated under the considered eye of architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the storied hotel now sits at the confluence of the nostalgic and the contemporary, while staying true –at least, in the parts where it matters – to its heritage. Enclosed within Hotel Lutetia’s walls, the past is found intertwined with the present. Its breathtaking Art Nouveau bar – Bar Josephine – still dressed in its original, restored Romanesque frescoes, hosts live jazz music each weekend. Brasserie Lutetia re-opened with three Michelin-starred chef Gérald Passedat at the helm.
The hotel’s 16,000-book library spills out into the dining area – a subtle wink at their bohemian roots – while a brand-new wellness spa brings the luxury hotel experience into the 21st century. Lutetia is an icon transfigured; now undoubtedly one of the Left Bank of Paris’ grandest hotels, and a Palace of the Rive Gauche.
It’s a living testament to its illustrious heritage; a long and decorated history painstakingly uncovered and rejuvenated, the rest rewritten for a new age.
Find out more at Hotel Lutetia's website.