Best Hotels in France
But there are properties that will persuade you to travel further afield, such as a former 19th-century hunting lodge in the Loire Valley. Whether you stay steps from a beach on the French Riviera or back in Paris off the Place de la Concorde, expect a gorgeous setting and at-the-ready service.
After all, these are the top hotels in France, based on readers' votes in our annual World's Best Awards survey.
No. 1 Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris, France
This hip yet plush hangout between the Champs-Élysées and Eiffel Tower is as au courant as it was when it opened in 1911, thanks to a 2000 refurbishment courtesy of its new owner, the Sultan of Brunei. Today, the balconied freestone front is covered in signature red awnings; inside, crimson bouquets enliven nearly every surface. The bar, with a long glowing glass counter meant to resemble an iceberg, is one of the city’s hottest scenes. At the Dior Institut spa, treatments incorporate the fashion house’s fragrances. The high-ceilinged rooms mix classic marble baths and Regency- and Louis XV-style details with modern touches like remote-controlled air-conditioning and a music library with 5,000 song choices. The hotel also offers tours of its 35,000-bottle wine cellar, led by Alain Ducasse’s head sommelier, complete with a tasting.
No. 2 Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, France
In an unbeatable location near the Champs-Élysées, this majestic 1928 white-stone hotel redefined elegance when it reopened its doors as a Four Seasons in 1999. Today, it’s tops with couture-clad jet-setters and bons vivants seeking a hushed city retreat with all the modern conveniences. Guests are greeted—and treated—to an eyeful of blooms upon arrival in the marble lobby; expect a sumptuous flurry of Flemish tapestries, crystal chandeliers, 19th-century furniture, and brocade fabrics throughout the public spaces. The 245 spacious rooms (doubles average a spacious 500 square feet) echo the same luxe detailing, and many rooms have private terraces overlooking the courtyard and rooftops beyond. And a heaven-can-wait full-service hotel spa adjoins an indoor pool ringed by a mural of the gardens at Versailles. But it’s chef Eric Brifford—who oversees the hotel’s Michelin two-starred restaurant, Le Cinq—who approaches godliness for his divine creations: fillet of red tuna with caviar from the Sologne region and tangy marinated vegetables, and Manjari chocolate soufflé and black-currant pulp. Lucky are the diners who can float upstairs to their rooms.
No. 3 Hôtel de Crillon, Paris, France
This Place de la Concorde landmark, built at the direction of King Louis XV in 1758, hasn’t lost its ornate air. Flat-screen televisions and high-speed Internet access bring modern touches to suites and salons still filled with gilt, mirrors, and Baccarat crystal, in addition to genuine Aubusson carpets and Wedgwood medallions. Even the entry-level rooms, at 115 square feet, are not unusually large, but have sitting areas and dressing rooms. The Bar du Crillon is nothing short of elegant, with its mirrored mosaics, red velvet–covered chairs, and dripping chandeliers. Request a song at the piano, then sit back on a settee and sip a Baccarat cocktail (Grand Marnier, lemon, cranberry, Champagne Rosé).
No. 4 Hôtel Chateau Eza, Côte d'Azur, France
Secluded 17th-century hotel with modern bathrooms, stone balconies, and panoramic views abutting ancient rock walls in the medieval village. For a full sea view from a private terrace, book a junior suite. All have jacuzzis inside, but ask for the one with it on the terrace. A trip to the beach at Anjuna is only a 10-minute drive away.
No. 5 The Ritz, Paris, France
An institution since 1898, the lavish, opulent Ritz—near the Louvre museum and Tuileries gardens—has maintained its stature as one of Paris’s leading hotels despite a plethora of trendy newcomers. Of course, not everyone can claim the Ritz’s history: it was the world’s first hotel to have a private bath in every room, and everyone from Edward VII to Coco Chanel has called it home (in Chanel’s case, for 37 years). A massive renovation in 2007 updated its infrastructure, yet Belle Époque touches remain. Swan-shaped, gold-plated faucets grace the tubs; a surfeit of period Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Empire furniture fills the rooms; and thousands of euros worth of flowers scent the air each week. Traditional white-glove service, a Roman-style pool ringed with columns, and a Michelin-starred restaurant only add to this lap-of-luxury experience.
No. 6 Domaine des Hauts de Loire, Loire Valley, France
A former 19th-century hunting lodge with 31 Empire-style rooms set on 178 forested acres between Blois and Amboise. Book no. 27, for floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony; rooms with terraces overlook the park. With a week's notice, the hotel can arrange private tours of the region's châteaux either in a hot air ballon or by helicopter.
No. 7 Hôtel Le Bristol, Paris, France
Oh, Paris: your palace hotels are turning up the dial, each one-upping the other with refinements. And this grande dame? A delicate $130 million renovation in 2009 retained the 19th-century paintings and gilded ceilings dating back to 1925, but infused the space with a lighter, welcoming sensibility. Floor-to-ceiling windows give an airy feel to the new La Prairie spa, and the Michelin three-starred Epicure restaurant is completely redone, with romantic two-tops overlooking the leafy courtyard. A pair of new suites—with parquet floors, petite balconies, and Louis XVI–style furnishings—are reachable by an original wrought-iron elevator, which also leads to the Panoramic Suite (you’ll recognize the 1,700-square-foot space from Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris). In the cream-colored Matignon wing, a staircase is illuminated by a winding, seven-story light installation—perfectly suited for the City of Light.
No. 8 Hotel Le Meurice, Paris, France
Philippe Starck’s public-space redo of this Paris institution, adjacent to the picturesque Tuileries gardens—including the bar and three-Michelin-starred restaurant—brought surreal new touches like a refrigerator-cooled mirror that’s literally frosted, and three-legged tables dressed in fancy shoes. All tradition wasn’t cast aside: Italian craftsmen were brought in to restore the lobby’s green-and-white marble floors. Rooms, which were themselves renovated in 1998, are starting to show their age, so modern touches like iPod docks set upon the 18th-century furnishings are welcome. It’s all complemented by lots of gilt, and no less than 100 yards of Rubelli and Branquenié fabrics in each room. For such upscale digs, the Meurice is surprisingly family-friendly, offering plenty of family packages and loaning custom-made boats for sailing in the adjacent Tuileries’ boat pond.
No. 9 Hôtel Lancaster, Paris, France
Just steps from the Champs-Élysées and the Triangle d'Or, this 1889 townhome houses the Hôtel Lancaster Lancaster, opened in 1930 by famous Swiss hotelier Emile Wolf. In 1996 it was remodeled with Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture as well as antique lighting, gilded mirrors, and oil paintings. Each of the 57 rooms is individually decorated with muted colors and vintage chandeliers, and the bathrooms are furnished with grey marble, African iroko wood, and heated towel bars. The Michelin-starred restaurant, La Table du Lancaster, serves modern French fare from renowned chef Michel Troisgros and has seating available outside in a Japanese-style garden.
No. 10 Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme
Palatial hotel with sexy interiors—a daring design departure from its more traditional neighbors—just off the Place Vendôme. The public rooms—in a palette of neutral colors, incorporating limestone and mahogany—unfold like an art gallery; Paris-based art dealer Darthea Speyer spent four years assembling a global collection of museum-worthy canvases. Up in the guest rooms, furniture is handmade, and hotel haute couture pervades. Book a massage at the spa with custom oils created by the in-house perfumer.