Great Stays: The Hotel Regina, Paris
Parisians have always been far kinder and more helpful than the stereotype of the aloof, disdainful Gallic lets on. But Paris post-terrorist attacks feels even friendlier and more welcoming, as if the locals were thanking visitors for continuing to embrace their city, despite everything. On my family’s most recent trip to the City of Lights, a woman approached as my husband and son and I stood on a street corner, clearly looking lost: “Can I help you with directions?” she asked. At an outdoor cafe, our deadpan waiter returned from the kitchen and without a word, handed back the extra 20 Euros my son had accidentally given him in payment for our coffee. A woman at another café (yes, eating always takes center stage during our time in Paris) moved her purse aside so I could perch mine on the same chair, off the dirty floor. Small acts of kindness, perhaps, but they felt like an acknowledgement of solidarity, that we are all in this gritty business of life together.
Waiters, shopkeepers, museum staff and ordinary citizens rushed to offer assistance or bestow small courtesies; even the notoriously grumpy Parisian cab drivers are glad to see you, ours helpfully pointing out the ladies of the night ringing the Boisse de Bologne and offering running commentary on this gorgeous city’s many notable sites on a late-night ride.
One of many things that made our visit to Paris even more extraordinary? A special hotel, perched in the epicenter of one of the city’s most beautiful districts.
If you are looking for the perfume-ad version of Paris as an old-world, glamorous, slightly-enchanted place, you’ll find it—as we did—at the Hotel Regina, a 1900 beacon of classic luxury that has been in the same Baverez family for four generations. The colonnade building right next door to the Louvre that now houses the hotel was once a former riding school for the French aristocracy in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Infused with history, the Hotel Regina opened for the 1900 World’s Fair and comes exquisitely ornamented with that era’s distinctive Art Nouveau sensibility. The elaborate woodwork on the hotel’s signature, welcoming revolving doors at the entrance instantly establishes the property’s romantic, distinctive style. That old world sensibility extends throughout the hotel in gorgeous green tile gracing the hotel’s hallways, arched stained glass windows, crystal chandeliers and the kind of period details that instantly transport you back in time.
The hotel’s 99 rooms are beautifully appointed capsules of tranquility with old-fashioned brass light switches that remind you of a gentler era even as the large rooms, Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs and sparkling marble bathrooms with towel warmers and soaking tubs—part of a 17 million Euro renovation in 2015—keep you feeling like a pampered denizen of the 21st century. Little extras like plush robes and slippers, a mini-bar, ample closets, Fragonard toiletries and built-in drawers in our room’s antechamber make you feel appropriately pampered. The Regina’s quiet luxury and intimate scale only add to the charming effect.
Beyond the ultra-comfortable accommodations and attentive staff, both front-desk and otherwise, the hotel is situated in the heart of one of Paris’s most exciting districts, the 1st arrondissement, rich with shopping and culture. Walking distance to Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Tuileries Gardens, the area also boasts enough access to the grand shopping promenade of the Rue de Rivoli along with proximity to the smaller boutiques like Colette and Goyard on the charming Rue Saint Honore: in other words, enough to keep you very busy if you have Euros burning a hole in your pocket.
2 Place des Pyramides, Off Rue de Rivoli, Paris, 75001
The view. With panoramic views of the Louvre and the Tuileries all the way to the Eiffel Tower, the Hotel Regina offers a dream vision of Paris at its most beautiful, the city laid out in all its splendor. Try to secure a room at floor three or above facing the Tuileries. Our corner fourth floor room featured working balconies with floor to ceiling windows to add to the lavishly lost-in-time mood. There is nothing like stepping out onto your own private wrought-iron balcony and feeling like all of Paris is at your feet. An 1874 statue of Joan of Arc on horseback by Emmanuel Fremiet outside, marking the Place des Pyramides’ charming square adds to the historic sweep and wonderful vantage.
There is a wealth of buzzing activity within easy walking distance from this centrally located hotel. Don’t miss the Mont-Blanc pastry and “African” hot chocolate at Angelina on the Rue de Rivoli. This circa 1903 tea shop with its Belle Epoque décor, delectable sweets and fancy clientele (Proust and Coco Chanel were regulars) is a must-stop and only minutes from the Hotel Regina.
Get Your Culture Fix
The Comedie Francaise and the Garnier Opera House are conveniently located near the hotel. If you’re longing to enhance your aesthetic high, visit the French painting wing of the Louvre, right next door to the Hotel Regina, to soak in a king’s ransom of the country's masters: Fragonard, Poussin and Ingres. And Napoleon III’s lavishly appointed apartment in the Richelieu wing of the 1st floor galleries is a must-see to keep the Gallic mood going.
At check-in guests receive tickets to ride the carousel at the Place de la Concorde, a lovely perk for children and adults alike. If you are traveling with children, there are three dedicated suites with connecting rooms featuring bunk beds and playrooms.
The hotel’s cozy English Bar is a dark-paneled retreat, great for catching up on work or just enjoying a cocktail after a day of sightseeing. In nice weather a shady courtyard is a lovely, quiet respite.
Claim to Fame
You may recognize the beautiful colonnade façade and gold lettering of the Hotel Regina from two thrillers set at this glamour-infused hotel, "The Bourne Identity" and Luc Besson’s "La Femme Nikita" as well as Stephen Frears’ drama "Cheri."
The Hotel Regina has been named the Quiet Hotel Award 2015’s winner for the quietest rooms. It's the kind of detail you especially appreciate after a long day: being in the center of all of the action, but none of that interfering with a good night's sleep.