You, like me, might think that the 5 star Peninsula hotel in Paris, one of the most elegant and most expensive places to stay in the city, is beyond your budget. Since it opened in 2014 it’s been on the list of top ten hotels in the world according to those who know (think CNN, Forbes etc). As a place to stay, it is certainly out of my range (prices start at around 795 Euros a night) but dining there is definitely an option. You see, although this place is fantastically exclusive, it isn’t off limits.
I went to the newly opened Lobby Restaurant for lunch and absolutely loved it. It was a chance to see inside this most beautiful building where history has been made for centuries. A chance to enjoy a drink in the famous bar and also to have a delicious lunch (and dinner) – and I promise you, it didn’t break the bank.
There are three restaurants at the Peninsula and three bars. Two of the restaurants, Lili and l’Oiseau Blanc are absolutely stunning but as far as I’m concerned, for very special occasions as the menu is expensive. However, the Lobby restaurant, in the former grand dining room of this Haussmanian Palace and one time home to a queen, is much more affordable and the food is exquisite. At just 48 Euros for a 3 course menu – you would be hard pushed to find something better at this price anywhere else in Paris.
In the summer there is an outdoor terrace area that can be enjoyed or you can opt to eat inside as I did because I was so mesmerised by the incredible gold leaf plasterwork, the frescoes and the total luxury of this huge dining room.
The staff are really friendly and helpful and of course, as you’d expect from an outfit of this quality, they all speak English. The menu du marché in the Lobby Restaurant is seasonal and diverse enough to please everyone; it changes daily as the chef decides what’s at its best at the market. The food is absolutely exquisite, beautifully presented, delicious and truly French in the best possible way – you just can’t go wrong if you eat here.
The Peninsula is right by the Arc de Triomphe in the exclusive Avenue Kleber. It’s where George Gershwin composed An American in Paris in 1928, inspired by the sound of citroens on the nearby Champs-Elysee. It’s where The Paris Peace Accords which brought the Vietnam War to a close, were signed in 1973 by President Richard Nixon. It was originally home to Queen Isabella I of Spain, before becoming the Majestic Hotel in 1908, much loved by the rich and famous of the day including Picasso, Proust, James Joyce and Stravinsky. In 1936 it was bought by the French Government and converted to offices before being sold in 2008 to the Peninsula Group. This long and illustrious history is evident to this day. The renovation team were meticulous about preserving the historic building and it took years and many hundreds of millions of dollars to restore it to its former glory – and then some.
Stop off for an apero in the historic Bar Kleber with its gorgeous oak panels and gilded walls or up to the roof top in summer for a glass of Champagne and sensational views. Pop to the Lobby Restaurants for lunch or dinner (unusually for France the menu price stays the same) and find out where savvy Parisians are enjoying a luxurious meal. I recommend you reserve in advance because once word gets out about this place – it’s going to be very popular!