Paris: 5 Places to Stay

Hôtel Plaza Athénée

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This hip yet plush hangout between the Champs-Élysées and Eiffel Tower is as au courant as it was when it opened in 1911, thanks to a 2000 refurbishment courtesy of its new owner, the Sultan of Brunei. Today, the balconied freestone front is covered in signature red awnings; inside, crimson bouquets enliven nearly every surface. The bar, with a long glowing glass counter meant to resemble an iceberg, is one of the city's hottest scenes. At the Dior Institut spa, scheduled to open September 2008, treatments incorporate the fashion house's fragrances. The high-ceilinged rooms mix classic marble baths and Regency- and Louis XV-style details with modern touches like remote-controlled air-conditioning and a music library with 5,000 song choices. The hotel also offers tours of its 35,000-bottle wine cellar, led by Alain Ducasse's head sommelier, complete with a tasting.

Insider Tip: Ride along the Seine on one of the hotel's red bicycles, tricked out with a basket and saddlebags, perfect for toting lunch.

Room to Book: Light sleepers who want romantic seclusion should ask for one facing the expansive ivy-covered, geranium-planted interior courtyard. For less silk and more streamlined furnishings, request a room on one of the top two Art Deco–designed floors.

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