Four Seasons Hotel George V: A Paris Legend, and With Good Reason
The Four Seasons Hotel George V is one of the most legendary and renowned in all of Paris, and the world. And even though a hotel with such a sparkling a reputation can easily rest on its laurels, a recent stay at the invitation of the hotel confirmed that this gem really is something special.
Since it first opened in 1928, Le George V has set the gold standard for luxury in the City of Lights. And since taking it over in 1997, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has served as a faithful steward. Upon setting foot in the spacious marble lobby, you’re greeted with a stunning floral display by artistic director Jeff Leatham; 12,000 flowers in total, driven in from Amsterdam, are arranged by Leatham and his team weekly throughout the entire hotel. Meticulously restored eighteenth-century tapestries line the walls, and a central courtyard allows natural light to permeate the entire ground floor and its restaurants. It’s the height of elegance, constantly buzzing with energy yet exuding a relaxing and tranquil air.
Our room, one of 224 guest rooms and suites, was big, bright, and spacious, with a small balcony overlooking the courtyard. The light color palate was accented with eighteenth-century-inspired furniture and high-end fixtures including a massive chandelier, and the large marble bathroom had a deep vanity, soaking tub, and separate rain shower.
At Le George V, it’s the attention to small details that really sets it apart. For example, while being escorted to our room, I mentioned that I’d picked up some cheese from a local fromagerie; 15 minutes later, room service arrived with a large table and a complimentary selection of breads, pastries, and fruit preserves to complement the cheese, making for a perfect impromptu lunch. Now that’s hospitality.
Le George V is also home to some of Paris’ finest dining experiences, two of which we had the opportunity to experience.
The first, Le George, focuses on light, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine designed for sharing. Menu standouts include yellowtail crudo with lemon; roasted Dublin Bay prawns with citrus and mustard sauce; a play on tarte tatin with roasted onions and Parmesan sorbet; fresh-made ricotta tortelli with lemon and fresh mint; and roasted sole with a bright basil and vinegar sauce. The high-ceilinged space is elegant, upscale, and very Parisian, but dim lighting and thumping music (not too loud) make it anything but stuffy.
The second, Le Cinq, is the jewel in the hotel’s culinary crown. Presided over by chef Christian Le Squer, this three-Michelin-starred masterpiece is a stunning achievement, and our lunch there was wonderful from start to finish. The opulent room is hushed and peaceful, and the staff is friendly and unpretentious, leading to an overall relaxed and even fun environment. Every detail has been meticulously planned and is perfectly executed, from the arrival of the Champagne cart at the beginning of the meal to the arrival of the (very luxuriously appointed) cheese cart at the end (below). In between, the team allows your meal to progress at an ideal pace, giving you plenty of time to appreciate standout dishes like Le Squer’s signature gratinated onions, a modern take on French onion soup, with the soup contained in edible orbs that burst in your mouth; roasted Dublin Bay prawns with a fresh, warm mayonnaise (above) and crunchy buckwheat tuiles; perfectly cooked filet of Australian beef served inside a dome of fresh mozzarella; and grilled fresh ceps (porcini) mushrooms. Each dish gives you plenty do discover and savor, and restaurant director Eric Beaumard does a fantastic job selecting wine pairings from the hotel’s 50,000-bottle strong wine cellar. (He should know; he was named the best sommelier in Europe by Ruinart in 1994).
Other culinary options at the hotel include L’Orangerie, an intimate 20-seat space inside a glass and steel structure overlooking the courtyard, which specializes in seasonal French cuisine; La Galerie, an ideal spot for a light lunch and cocktails located in the heart of the hotel (the din of the crowd combined with piano music daily from 3 p.m. makes guests feel as if they’ve happened upon an elegant soirée); and Le Bar, a wood-paneled classic bar that’s one of the city’s best spots for a cocktail or afternoon tea. The ground floor is also home to a collection of high-end shops, and though the spa is currently undergoing a thorough renovation, a “pop up spa” offers all the old spa’s services in a lavish fourth-floor suite.
Located just steps from the Champs-Élysées, the elegant Four Seasons Hotel George V strives for perfection at every turn, and — as far as I can tell after spending an evening there and having the opportunity to dine at two of its restaurants — it achieves it. It’s really as magical as it’s made out to be.
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