If I were going to open a fantastic luxury hotel in Paris, I probably would not call it La Maison des Centraliens, which explains why this gorgeous hotel is trying to impose its name as La Maison Champs Elysées. ’Tis not an easy task, because the trendy new hotel has been the headquarters of the Centraliens for nearly 100 years. Which leads to the question, What is a Centralien? The Ecole Centrale de Paris is a very exclusive engineering school, and this hotel was given to its alumni by families of the Princesses d’Essling and de Croy-Sobre to enjoy as a home away from home and as a meeting place. We’re pretty lucky that now the hotel has opened its doors, offering this sumptuous little jewel as a home away from home for the rest of the world.
To balance out the ubertraditional, ultraclassical decor and history of this mansion, the owners called upon the services of the Maison Martin Margiela. The designer’s duo-tone theme is the perfect counterweight to all the gold and marble; everything, even the walls, is in shades of black and white for a cool, modern welcome. Sophisticated trompe l’oeil wallpaper, pure linens and stunning crystals in both the common areas and the rooms make this address a fashionista’s dream come true.
I first came to this hotel for dinner at the very trendy, surprisingly delicious Table du 8. I say surprisingly because occasionally, when so much effort has gone into the interior design, and into soliciting a jet-set crowd, the food comes in second place. That is not the case for the Centraliens. Because I was on a date, and did not know that I would someday be writing about our dinner, I did not take notes, but I still remember the excellent cocktails, the knee-meltingly good truffle risotto and the beautifully presented desserts. I also remember that the prices were astonishingly reasonable for the quality of the food, not to mention the ambience.
Recently I was invited to the restaurant’s one-year-old birthday party, and I tasted those cocktails again. They were as fantastic as I remembered. All the food featured exceptional products, like lobster and foie gras, presented in new and unfussy ways. The textures were light; the flavors were astounding.
After a few of those cocktails, I really wished I had a key to just slip upstairs into one of the gorgeously designed suites that I had visited earlier in the evening. The White Cover Suite, with a mirror on the ceiling right above the bed, had made me think of Fifty Shades of Grey, which, given the hotel’s entire color palette, would be a strikingly appropriate title for the fully stocked bookshelves in the Gilded Lounge Suite. As somebody who loves fashion, and art, I’d say this would be one of my dream hotels in Paris.