Quel surprise! Paris' top hotels are climbing over each other to attract the world's elite — children, that is. In our opinion, you get what you pay for, so have those Euros ready.
Paris, France is so irresistible that it seems every family, no matter their budget, wants to expose their children to Europe’s plus grande dame. At FamilyTravelForum.com, we hear one of the biggest challenges is finding a family-friendly hotel with rooms large enough to accommodate the brood. That may be changing. In the past few years, a few of the city’s most elegant hotels have been welcoming les petits as the next masters of the universe. These “family-friendly hotel offers” are more about marketing to families than saving money with discounted rates, but what you get is a famously French grand hotel, accommodations for a family of four (or more), and a catalog of treats for all ages — both inside and outside of the hotel. Designer chic, sexy mascots, Michelin-rated chefs, private chambers — what more could les petits need for their Paris sojourn except — of course — a hefty allowance.
Hotel Le Bristol
112, rue Faubourg St. Honore
75008 Paris, France
(33/53 43 43 25)
Le Bristol, one of the stars of the 8th arrondissement, has a charming and imaginative children’s amenities program focused around the hotel’s mascot Hippolyte, a rabbit named after the hotel’s founder, Hippolyte Jammet. Upon arrival, children receive their very own Hippolyte plush rabbit and welcome packets that include activities, such as suggestions for fun-filled, educational walking tours around Paris, as well as games and activities to play while at the hotel. A Hippolyte-themed treasure hunt is led by hotel staff, who prompt children to find the rabbit’s hidden gardening tools. Finders, keepers… and the recovered bucket, watering can, flower seeds and terracotta pot may be transported home.
In the Louis-style guestrooms or suites, young guests will find rabbit-shaped cookies and strawberry water to enjoy as well as a children’s room service menu (doting chef Eric Frechon is also on hand to prepare custom kids’ meals on request for those with food allergies). The Bristol toilette provides green apple and orange-scented shampoos, soaps, and shower gels, plus fluffy bathrobes and cozy slippers for apres-bain. Design-conscious infants and toddlers will revel in the Hippolyte-themed sheets, pillowcases, quilt covers, blankets and bibs from the very classy Porthault linen house. Additionally, families can enjoy the indoor pool, romp in the inner courtyard garden, and visit an expanded fitness room with a hamman (these Turkish-inspired steam baths are the rage in Paris). Of course, Le Bristol is aware that families need just the right room configuration before they can enjoy a hotel-based treasure hunt, so their Family Program has special rates on two connecting rooms. When available, the hotel offers two rooms each sleeping two (tinies in cribs don’t count toward this room occupancy) and buffet breakfast for the whole family, for €1,185 per night. Superior and deluxe two-bedroom suites are priced from €1,765 or €2,175 per night respectively.
Hotel de Crillon
10 place de la Concorde
75008 Paris, France
(33/44 71 55 00)
Give your children the utmost at the Hotel de Crillon, which offers a package for families with young children. Originally designed as a palace for Louis XV and surrounded in towering white pillars, the hotel is located only a short walk from the Champs Elysees and the Louvre. The Crillon has lavish, gold-decorated rooms and suites, and the expert concierge service, full of helpful information about the city, can create and execute your personalized tour itinerary. With the “Once Upon A Time” package, the smallest travelers are welcomed with a grab-bag and coloring kit, a gourmet snack prepared by the chef, and, best of all, a cute stuffed “Crillon Elephant.” The friendly hotel staff will keep kids busy with a quiz to learn a little about the hotel’s history, and a prize for the winner. Children under 3-years are cared for too, with a toy baby elephant, a blanket, an organic bib and diaper, and a pretty, antique-looking crib. If your kids are a bit older and you’d like separate rooms, this package offers a second room for a 50% discount. Come dinner time, the dining options at Crillon are sure to please all palates. Chef Jean-FranÃ§ois PiÃ¨ge, besides preparing savory French dishes that are a delicious mix of classic and modern, designed a special kid’s menu. When it’s time for bed, children can slip into their own kid-sized robe and slippers.
Four Seasons George V
31 avenue George V
74008 Paris, France
(33/49 52 70 00)
Kids will love the George V, located near the River Seine and the Champs Elysees. This hotel’s main attraction will probably be the indoor pool, but George V has plenty more to offer. The rooms, which can be baby-proofed upon request, are well-stocked with French and English children’s books, and kids under 12 can get a cot (or crib as needed) for free. They’ll stay occupied with a behind-the-scenes tour of the hotel (including kitchen and laundry rooms), a treasure hunt at the end of their stay, and even a 1-hour pastry class with the chef (madeleines are on the menu)! Picky eaters are safe here too, because the hotel has a kid’s menu with familiar items, like pancakes and pasta, as well as with crepes and croquet-monsieurs for those who are willing to try a taste of French culture. Children receive complimentary food and beverage amenities as well. When it’s bedtime, children can wash up with kid-sized toiletries, don a kid-sized robe and slippers, and enjoy the story-book reading and milk-and-cookies bedtime service.
228, rue de Rivoli
75001 Paris, France
(33/44 58 10 10)
Standing proud at 5-stars and seven stories is another historic luxury hotel, but its public spaces have been reinterpreted in a fun, sexy way by master designer Philippe Starck. The palace has played host to visiting royalty and world leaders since Queen Victoria stayed there in 1855. Today, Meurice has expanded their service to the future world leaders. Since 2006, Le Meurice has reached out to families in a trÃ¨s grand way with a Family Program package guaranteeing two connecting rooms. Best yet, families who book the deluxe category among the hotel’s 160 rooms are upgraded to a two-bedroom suite done in the most luxe of 18th-century furniture and fabrics, if available on check-in. The Meurice’s family package bestows buffet breakfast for four in their Michelin-recognized restaurant (check out the gourmet kids’ menus) or en-suite in a family apartment; loaner DVDs for use in the room; a stuffed animal (the hotel’s adorable dog mascot, Pistache); an individual Meurice Kids’ Kit that includes child-sized bathrobes, slippers, and puzzles for kids to age 6; a plate of treats in the children’s room and a hotel treasure hunt with prizes organized by le concierge. Le Passeport is a pocketsize activity book filled with imaginative ways to engage kids at local sights.
Parents will find a tray of petit-fours in their room, and complimentary admission to the Spa Claudalie, where they can sneak off while the kids are looking for treasure. When families are ready to head outside the hotel, kids can borrow bicycles or bright green scooters. Le Meurice offers two children’s tickets for the carousel (sorry, parents buy their own) and use of homemade boats to sail on the pond in les Tuileries. The 160 rooms and 45 suites are being renovated throughout 2010; rates for the two-room B&B package vary by accommodation and run about $1,650 per night for two connecting Superior double rooms, or $1,800 per night for two connecting Deluxe double rooms (with the possible upgrade to a two-bedroom suite).
15 Place Vendome
75001 Paris, France
(33/43 16 30 30)
The Ritz Paris treats kids like royalty. Each child is welcomed with a special gift, and those 6 and under receive a cute stuffed toy. Kids can take swimming lessons at the indoor pool, or become French sous-chefs at the Escoffier School. A coloring-book kids’ menu offers yummy main dishes and desserts, including home-made ices. If you choose the Family Package, available to families with up to three children under age 18, your kids will receive a personal welcoming gift, including sweets and a bib for babies. Depending on which room style you choose, you can reserve a second room for the kids at either 50% off or for free. Plus, children get unlimited access to the pool (when accompanied by an adult) and to the garden putting green, so they’ll always be occupied.
Hotel Plaza AthÃ©nÃ©e
21, avenue Montaigne
75008 Paris, France
(33/53 67 66 65)
Another of the Dorchester Group’s five-star palaces welcoming children is elegantly located between the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde, near chic boutiques such as Christian Dior, Chanel, HermÃ¨s and Louis Vuitton. While the hotel has not offered children “much beyond a goodie-laden gift bag,” according to a spokesperson, for summer 2010 the hotel will be renting Barbie themed rooms as part of a family package. Of course, Plaza AthÃ©nÃ©e treats all of its society guests with kid gloves: expect a personal teddy bear mascot to buddy with on arrival; a petit table delivered with little people’s room service; an Alain Ducasse restaurant and dessert buffet, and a private courtyard that boasts a custom-made skating rink in winter and a vintage carousel in autumn.
The hotel also lavishes special attention on families, with kid-friendly elegant toiletries; a Concierge ready to book family-centric tours, guides and transportation; and a Housekeeper who arranges babysitters through a professional local agency. Children can play in mini old-fashioned red cars, play games with the friendly hotel staff, and taste pastries from the kitchen. Teens can enjoy sophisticated breakfasts, a personal trainer at the fitness center, free bikes to tour the city, a choice of room dÃ©cor and comfy pillows (they are encouraged to ask the staff to try them all!), and a USB key for photos.
This hotel also has an entire website dedicated to children and teens, where they can explore all the fun things to do both at the hotel and around the city. The AthÃ©nÃ©e’s Barbie bed & breakfast package aimed at two adults and two children under age 12, based on a minimum two-night stay in two connecting rooms, costs $1,950 per night, including VAT. Their website often offers substantial discounts with seasonal ‘Best of the Best Internet’ rates.
Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel
61 quai de Grenelle
(33/40 58 20 20)
The Novotel Paris, which overlooks the Seine and is just minutes from the Eiffel Tower, takes great pride in its emphasis on family spirit. A personalized welcome will make your kids feel at home, and they’ll love keeping busy at the safe and creative play areas, and in the swimming pool. Some other Novotel locations around Paris also have indoor playsets. Children under 16 get free accommodations and breakfast when they stay in a Family Room with their parents or grandparents, so the paying adults will enjoy this deal too. The kids’ menu will please even a picky palate, and choices of balanced meals will keep Mom happy. When it’s time to leave, the late 5pm checkout time will make the traditionally hectic last morning that much easier.
Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-ElysÃ©es
70, avenue des Champs-Elysees
75008 Paris, France
(33/1/53 93 55 00, 800/90 83 33)
One of the newest hotels to turn “family” is the elegant Marriott tucked into a ca.1914 Registered Historical Monument that once housed the offices of legendary luggage designer Louis Vuitton. The contemporary, seven-story hotel tower boasts 20 one- and two-bedroom suites that are ideal for larger families. The one-bedroom suites sleep three to four guests and the two-bedroom suites sleep five; all have spacious bathrooms with separate shower and bath facilities so everyone can get ready quickly. It’s easy to request a crib or rollaway and many rooms have sofabeds. Amenities now considered standard among luxury hotels of this stature include a pillow menu, ironing board setup, three phones, Internet access, WebTV, pay-per-view movies, video game players, babysitting on request and a fitness center with saunas.
Additionally, 172 well-planned rooms range from 30 to 50-meters-square; five are handicap-accessible. Connecting doors mean families can book an executive double room with two queen beds, or a standard room with two twin beds, and adjoin either to a king-bedded room. The hotel welcomes so many families in summer that on-site reservation agents are used to suggesting the best configuration at the lowest prevailing rates. While this Marriott’s four restaurants have children’s menus, we recommend a stop for sandwiches or drinks under the historic glass atrium or an early dinner on La Terrasse, the hotel’s open air sidewalk cafe. What better way to introduce the kids to the Champs-ElysÃ©es? The Marriott’s concierge staff also arranges customized walking or motor tours, whether your family has come to admire the current art scene, art nouveau architecture, nouvel cuisine or the latest fashions. Executive rooms begin at €649 per night.
Tip: Those in Paris with a teen — or looking for a holiday sans enfants — should consider another Marriott brand luxe hotel. The Renaissance Paris Vendome (33/40 20 20 00) at 4, rue du Mont Thabor, 75001, is a 97-room property in the fashion district. This boutique gem with an indoor lap pool has been designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon to highlight a fabulous spa. Black, white and a splash of bold color dominate the sleek lines and furnishings of the trÃ¨s chic decor.
13 Rue de la Paix
(33/42 61 57 46)
The Hotel Westminster, not far from the Tuileries Garden or the Louvre, has a family package for the teen who loves to shop. The package “for VIP Parents and VIP Kids” includes an Executive Vendome room with two queen beds, specially designed to be spacious enough for families. The whole family can enjoy complimentary buffet breakfasts, and a kid’s menu, including juice or soda, is available on weekends at the hotel restaurant. They’re sure to enjoy the meal, because on weekends the elegeant CÃ©ladon restaurant transforms into Le Petit CÃ©ladon, which has a more casual and family-friendly atmosphere. Kids also receive a special VIP surprise gift. Outside the hotel, mothers and daughter can bond while shopping at the Galeries Lafayette, Paris’s largest department store, with their 10% VIP shopping discount.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.