The glitz and glam of Parisian luxury along the Champs-Elysées, culminating in the iconic Arc de Triomphe, is one of the most well known hotspots in Paris, and deservedly so. Last weekend, we indulged in a weekend city break to France’s mesmerizing capital, the City of Love, City of Lights, the gorgeous city of Paris, and further indulged in accommodations just next to the Champs-Elysées. The Arc de Triomphe, after the Eiffel Tower the most recognized monument of Paris and certainly the more historical of the two, is immediately and awe-inspiringly slammed into view at the entrance of Hotel Napoleon, a superb 5 star in the prestigious 8th arrondissement that captured our hearts and is now one of our favourites in all of Paris.
Hotel Napoleon – Paris
History and romance meet to make the story of Hotel Napoleon unique and enchanting. It was built in the late 1920s by Alexander Pavlovich Kliaguine, a wealthy Russian entrepreneur, who fell in love with a young Parisian girl after meeting her at a literary fair in the city. The hotel was a wedding gift for the captivating lady, who entertained high society of the time there. It doesn’t take much to imagine the extravagant, gorgeously fun parties of 1920s Paris that would have been held there. And even more interesting and unique, the hotel is still owned by the same family to this day (the Kliaguine’s), which is quite rare in Paris.
In keeping with the history of the Arc de Triomphe, which was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon in the height of his success, the hotel is luxuriously and elegantly designed in the rich decor of the era, complete with detailed gilding, deep colouring and stately portraits, often of the great Emperor Napoleon himself. Warm lighting, plush seating, a fireplace and further period decor led to an immediate and lasting impression.
What was our first impression?
We were upgraded from a Classic room to a Suite upon arrival, which was instantly impressive upon entering. A sizable salon with a large mirror, sofa, desk, television and built-in wardrobes led into a sizable bedroom, with a ‘king-size’ bed (that was actually 2 beds pushed together, but still ultimately comfortable), another television, more storage, and a kettle with a selection of Nescafe instant coffees and excellent organic teas. The bedroom led into a lovely bathroom with a bath, enclosed toilet and fairly spacious shower with a ‘rainforest’ showerhead. Rich purple and silvery-gold colours, 19th century-style portraits and paintings adorning the walls, and luxurious curtains and flowered balconettes added to the room’s ultimately excellent decor and historically intriguing appeal.
Was there a personal welcome note?
Indeed there was not, but after leaving the room in the afternoon and returning to freshen up in the evening, there were a couple of complementary luxury chocolates laid delicately upon the bed. This is not exactly a boutique hotel, so personal notes are perhaps not to be expected, though the hotel does have a boutique feel.
How was the bed?
The ‘king size’ bed was actually two bed pushed together, as mentioned, but ultimately it was an extremely comfortable sleep among excellent pillows, soft sheets and a cozy, plush white comforter.
How was storage?
Storage was positively excellent, with two spacious built-in wardrobes (one for hanging items and one with shelves) in the salon and additional bedside closets and a set of drawers in the bedroom. In fact, the general expectation of rooms in Paris is that they will be small, no matter the hotel, but this room was in fact one of the most spacious we’ve experienced and greatly added to our comfort for the weekend.
There were two provided, white, comfortable and clean.
The toiletries were an excellent Citrus Verbena scent of L’Occitane, with lovely arrangement next to the bathtub.
The bedsheets were soft, comfortable and of good quality. There were plenty of towels provided that were often refreshed.
The view from the balconettes was a gaze upon other rooms across an open spacing due to the hotel’s architecture, but it was a pleasant and very French view upon other balconettes of Hotel Napoleon only, with equally beautiful flower arrangements. Other suites in the hotel, as we understand, have a direct view of the Arc de Triomphe, but we didn’t find this necessary to our happiness – the room was spacious yet intimate, perfect for a Parisian night.
Proximity to other rooms?
Rooms are well soundproofed and no noise was heard from any of our neighbours. There seems to be good spacing between rooms, despite sometimes narrow hallways (which, however, we found added to the hotel’s intrigue in a positive way). In fact, at breakfast we were surprised to see families with children, as we heard no such noise at any point.
How was the sleep quality?
The bed was spacious and comfortable. There was not a noise to be heard and the drawn curtains allowed us to sleep as late as we pleased in the morning. Overall, deep, comfortable and peaceful.
Continental, American and buffet breakfasts are offered for €€€, including a selection of cheeses, meats, fruits, pastries and some warm dishes including eggs, bacon, sausages and hash browns, with a lovely selection of preserve pots. Service is friendly and the atmosphere is intimate, cozy and relaxed even in the luxurious decor.
What is check-in like?
Check in was fast, easy and efficient. We appreciated the upgrade to a Suite, though the process was not characterized by any particular personal touch.
Were we upgraded?
Yes, as mentioned we were delightfully upgraded from a Classic Room to a Suite.
Was there a valet service?
We arrived via a Mercedes Uber, and were professionally offered assistance with luggage if needed, but we both travelled far too light to use this service (a personal goal/challenge for the trip – Emily packed only a handbag! Impressive, we know…)
Did the hotel staff address us by name?
Indeed they did not, but as this is not exactly a boutique hotel, that’s perhaps to be expected. Everyone spoke fluent English, which was helpful.
Was there free Wifi?
Wifi is only provided in rooms at an hourly charge, though we understand there is a computer available for use in the business room area if needed.
Were the recommended local restaurants and attractions good?
We in fact did not inquire, but there were a few pamphlets lying around suggesting shopping venues. There were also very informative magazines in the room highlighting many excellent restaurants, off-the-beaten track to-dos and luxury shopping venues.
There is a significant charge for room service delivered tea or coffee, but as mentioned there were excellent teas and an electric kettle provided in the room. Emily particularly enjoyed the organic vervain.
Hotel and Grounds
The immediate impression upon entering the hotel is everything you want from a 5 star. 19th century Napoleonic grandeur, luxurious armchairs and couches, warm romantic lighting and a dashing yet intimate fireplace make for a fantastic and memorable first impression.
The hotel consists of 51 rooms and 51 suites, a clean and suitable fitness area on the top floor, spa services that are also available in-room and a beautiful restaurant and bar.
The restaurant, the Bivouac Cafe, seems to be meant primarily for breakfast and lunch. The decor was gorgeous, and as in the rest of Paris, you must look up – even the ceiling was artfully complementary of the rich burgundies, golds, period portraits and warm lighting of the surroundings.
The hotel condition was superb, though they are further improving the atmosphere with renovations that we expect to be equally exquisite (and were not in any way obtrusive to the experience).
Aside from the top floor fitness room, there was also a charming bottom floor conservatory room that looked available for lounging and dining in warmer weather. It made for a beautiful view from the main restaurant area regardless, with a charming fountain and lattice work.