New French hotels

Author: Rosa Jackson

A clutch of new hotels has opened in Paris and beyond.

French hotels continue to set ever-loftier standards in character and luxury.

In Paris, Hôtel Plaza Athénée reopened in August after a 10-month renovation that added 14 new rooms and suites and gave the hotel's three-star restaurant a complete design overhaul. Chef Alain Ducasse has matched the new look with an updated menu focusing on vegetables, grains and fish. Renowned for its cocktails, the Athénée's fashionable bar has a new deep-blue palette and a transparent resin bar that seems suspended in the air.

Perhaps the biggest splash of the year comes from Hôtel Molitor Paris, built around two public swimming pools dating from 1929 and closed since 1989. The renovation has preserved the building's heritage-listed Art Deco features, including the blue changing-booths on terraces circling the indoor pool, and the city's best-known street artists have made their marks inside - by invitation. Rooms decorated in soothing neutral tones keep the focus on the stunning winter and summer pools - the 46-metre outdoor pool is heated to 28 degrees, making it usable year-round to hotel guests and club members.

Beyond Paris, the flawlessly stylish Maisons & Hotels Sibuet group is behind two new luxury boutique hotels. French artist Bernard Buffet spent the last 20 years of his life in the Provençal house that is now Domaine de la Baume, about 90 minutes' drive from Nice and Marseilles airports. Decorated in classic 18th-century style, the hotel has 15 airy rooms, a treetop spa, an equestrian farm and an olive grove.

And for skiiers, Hotel des Dromonts in Avoriaz is scheduled to open in December and will offer easy access to the Portes du Soleil ski fields at an altitude of 1800 metres. An avant-garde piece of architecture when it was built in the 1960s, it will have 34 rooms decorated in Mod style, a spa with an indoor pool and three restaurants, one of them focusing on local cheeses.

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