Trip to Le Meurice

While in Paris, we popped into the hotel Le Meurice to shelter from the rain, use its facilities and enjoy an afternoon cup of tea. The hotel is a Brunei-owned five-star luxury hotel in the 1st arrondissement of Paris opposite the Tuileries Garden, between Place de la Concorde and the Musée du Louvre on the Rue de Rivoli.The hotel received the “Palace” distinction from the French government in 2011. Le Meurice is owned and operated by the Dorchester Collection, a luxury hotel operator based in London. 

Le Meurice Paris

How it all began

Rue de Rivoli was constructed in 1806 and a few years later, in 1811, elegant arcades were built lining the street facing the glorious Tuileries Garden. These grand buildings were designed by esteemed architects Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine. Property developer François Corbie then acquired a stretch of the arcades in order to build what would become Le Meurice.

Ancient painting featuring Rue de Rivoli

In mid-18th century, the French postmaster, Charles-Augustin Meurice understood that English tourists wanted to enjoy all the comforts and conveniences of home while be on the continent. In 1771, Meurice opened a coach inn on Rue Edmond Roche in Calais, the Hôtel Meurice de Calais.

In 1815, he opened the Hôtel Meurice in Paris, originally located at 223 Rue Saint-Honoré. Le Meurice offered everything to make life easier for the traveller; apartments of various sizes, areas set aside where travellers could sit and talk, specialty laundry soap, English-speaking staff, and currency exchange, among other amenities. The hotel advertised:

For an English traveller, no hotel in Paris offers more benefits than Le Meurice.

In 1835, Le Meurice moved from Rue Saint Honore to its current location on the Rue de Rivoli, into a new luxurious building, and its wealthy clientele followed.

In the latter half of 19th century, was the hotel’s Henri-Joseph Scheurich new proprietor and, in 1865, he is documented as managing the hotel under the London and Paris Hotel Company. He is mentioned again in 1867, at which time the hotel offered large and small apartments, or single bedrooms; and featured a reading room and smoking room. In 1891, the hotel had electric lights, new plumbing, and accommodated 200 guests; Scheurich was still the proprietor.

Over the years, Le Meurice has often been referred to as ‘Hotel des Rois’ (Hotel of Kings), due to its many royal guests. In 1855, HM Queen Victoria stayed there on her official state visit to Paris and in her honour the hotel renovated the entire first floor.

Photograph of Le Meurice in 1889

In 1889, Le Meurice became the first hotel in Paris to have a telephone. Scheurich was fascinated by technology and believed this would attract more high-profile guests.

In early 20th century, one of the shareholders of the new company was Arthur Millon, owner of Café de la Paix and restaurants Weber and Ledoyen. To compete with the Ritz, which opened in 1902, Millon turned to a great Swiss hotelier, Frédéric Schwenter. Under these two men, Le Meurice was enlarged by the addition of the Metropole Hotel, located on Rue de Castiglione. Then, with the exception of the façade, the hotel was rebuilt under the guidance of the architect Henri Paul Nénot, winner of the Grand Prix de Rome.

For interior decoration, especially for rooms on the ground floor, the Louis XVI style prevailed. The rooms were equipped with modern, tiled bathrooms, telephones, and electric butler bells. Public rooms were relocated and reinforced concrete was added for privacy, and the elevator was a copy of the sedan chair used by Marie Antoinette. Other additions included the grand salon Pompadour with white trimmings, a restaurant with marble pilasters and gilded bronzes as a living tribute to the Peace of Versailles, and the wrought iron canopy over the lobby.

During the renovation project, the builders took in a stray greyhound dog which was adopted by the hotel staff and went on to become the hotel’s mascot and emblem.

Postcard showing the view of Paris from the rooftop of Le Meurice Paris

During WWI, the hotel closed while it served as a hospital for wounded soldiers.

The hotel opened its first bar in 1936, next to where its current bar is today. It featured an amazing mural which has been carefully preserved and is now on display in the hotel’s Salon Jeu de Paume event space.

Between September 1940 and August 1944, the hotel was requisitioned (quelle surprise!) by the German occupation authorities. In August 1944, the Meurice became the headquarters of General Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, who  famously (and thankfully) disobeyed Hitler’s commands to level the city. Hitler’s reported question screamed to von Choltitz over a Hotel Meurice telephone:

Is Paris burning?

later served as the title of a best-selling book about the liberation of Paris, and the 1966 film which was shot partly at the Meurice.

The Meurice underwent another round of extensive renovation and restoration between 1998 and 2000. In 2007, Le Meurice was one of the first hotels to work with esteemed designer Philippe Starck. His new interior design elements were inspired by the creativity and playfulness of artist Salvador Dali who famously made Le Meurice his second home.

Entrance to a restaurant at Le Meurice Paris

To highlight the hotel’s great love and appreciation of art it proudly launched our Meurice Prize for contemporary art, which ran for ten years and supported a series of emerging artists. The ‘kiss’ statue in the lobby is the work of its first winner, Zoulikha Bouabdellah.

Restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse | Dorchester Collection

Multiple Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse took on the role of overseeing all dining at Le Meurice in 2013 and following executive pastry chef Cédric Grolet winning the title of ‘World’s Best Restaurant Pastry Chef’ in 2018, it opened its own pastry shop called La Pâtisserie du Meurice par Cédric Grolet.

During its long existence, Le Meurice has experienced several transfers of ownership the latest being in April 1997 when the Aga Khan sold the hotel to the Sultan of Brunei’s Brunei Investment Agency, who made it part of the company’s Dorchester Collection.

30 Comments on “Trip to Le Meurice

  1. Well written know it very well even management there still. WE used to trade clients as when needed to fill rooms of 18 m2 for 500 euros lol !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Sheree, for such a fascinating tale about the old hotel. I like the emblem and the hotel’s involvement in many humanitarian events.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank goodness the General didn’t listen to Hitler! Gorgeous place although more than a bit above my touch, although I could definitely have tea or a drink there. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beyond my budget as usual. I think that I have stayed in a five star only once, in Athens.

    We were t the end of a three week back packing holiday on the islands and I wrote this about it…

    The Royal Olympic is a five star hotel and we don’t usually do five star but I had spotted a good deal and broken the normal rule. It was very smart and plush and I felt a little out of place and conspicuous in dusty sandals, a salt streaked shirt and a battered backpack, which I put down as inconspicuously as I could and well away from the Versace and the Louis Vuittons. The supposed deal was a €650 executive room for €120 and the room was nice and I was happy with the price we had paid but it certainly wasn’t worth €650.


    • We didn’t stay there Andrew, just drank a pot of tea and used their facilities. I like to stay in 5* hotels but they’re exorbitant in certain cities, Paris being one. Even if I could afford it, I wouldn’t pay over Euros 1,000 a night. Currently at a 5* in Porto which is Euros 223 a night (incl fab breakfast) where I bagged an upgrade, largely because I’m an IHG member.


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