Hotel Lutetia - History and Facts | History Hit

Hotel Lutetia

Tristan Parker

31 Aug 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Hotel Lutetia

Hotel Lutetia is a luxury hotel in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés region of Paris. It claims to be “the only luxury palace hotel’ in the area of Paris known as the Left Bank.

Hotel Lutetia history

Famous Parisian store Le Bon Marché came up with the idea of creating upscale accommodation that could be used by ‘important’ customers. The hotel was built in 1910 on Boulevard Raspail, which adjoins Le Bon Marché’s location. Architects commissioned sculptors to create the hotel’s striking Art Nouveau façade.

It didn’t take long for Lutetia to become a luxurious retreat for various bohemian and intellectual circles. Pablo Picasso, Henry Matisse, Josephine Baker, Ernest Hemingway, Samuel Beckett, writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and singer Marianne Oswald were all regular guests at the hotel, and James Joyce allegedly wrote part of ‘Ulysses’ there. Charles de Gaulle spent his honeymoon in the Suite Amour.

In 1940, after the French Government evacuated Paris during the German occupation, Lutetia was requisitioned for the Abwehr (the German military intelligence unit). When Paris was liberatedCharles de Gaulle ordered that Lutetia become a base to receive survivors of concentration camps and others who had been deported and displaced during the war. Thousands of people passed through there, hoping to be reunited with loved ones.

Lutetia’s glitzy reputation was further solidified in the 1950s, when the Taittinger family (of Taittinger champagne) purchased the hotel. It remained in their ownership for many years before being sold in 2005.

Hotel Lutetia today

Tributes to the hotel’s historic association with the arts remain today: French-American singer and dancer Josephine Baker, who spent much time at Lutetia, has both a stylish suite and a sumptuous Art Nouveau hotel bar named after her. More recent famous guests have included Yves Saint Laurent co-founder Pierre Bergé and American film director David Lynch, who designed one of the hotel suites.

In the 1980s, French fashion designer Sonia Rykiel revamped some of the hotel interiors and suites, but a grander, fuller renovation began taking place in 2014. The number of rooms were reduced from 230 to 184 to allow for more spacious accommodation. The resulting refurbishment celebrated Lutetia’s Art Nouveau and Art Deco heritage, but blended these styles with contemporary, forward-thinking design.

Getting to Hotel Lutetia

The hotel is situated in the arty and bustling Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It is moments away from the Sèvres-Babylone Metro station and also very close to several other Metro stations, including Saint-Sulpice and Rennes. There are numerous bus stops surrounding the hotel. The Musée Maillol art museum is a few minutes away on foot, and other famous Paris sights like the Louvre art museum and Notre-Dame Cathedral are easily reachable via public transport.

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