How would you like to holiday in a French palace? A new hotel industry classification being bestowed on luxury hotels has distinguished a record eight French hotels with the “palace” tag. This new classification indicates more than just a five-star status. Four Paris hotels made the cut. These were the Bristol, the Meurice, the Park Hyatt and the Plaza Athenee. The four non-Paris hotels to earn the “palace” tag included the Palais in Biarritz, the Airelles and Cheval Blanc in Alpine resort Courchevel and the Grand Hotel Cap Ferrat, located close to Nice. If you are looking for a slightly more royal connection, the Meurice and the Plaza Athenee are owned by the Sultan of Brunei.
The distinction is valid for five years, enough time to bring what the Bristol’s head, Didier Le Calvez calls “significant commercial and notoriety boosts”. Calvez predicts that the hotel industry in other countries might also follow in France’s footsteps and offer similar distinctions to their luxury properties.
The jury, which included people like novelist Gonzague Saint-Bris and architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, judged the properties on various factors including location, history, comfort, service, health and spa facilities and the presence of multilingual staff. Among the biggies that missed out are the Four Seasons George V, the Negresco Hotel in Nice, and The Ritz in Paris. The latter is notorious for having hosted Princess Diana the night before her accident.
French junior tourism minister Frederic Lefebvre admitted that the term “palace” is itself “an invitation to travel”.