A room at the Hotel Raphael, Paris

A luxury hotel—perhaps the luxury hotel—in Paris near the Étoile

A view from a room at the Hotel Raphael, Paris
A room at the Hotel Raphael, Paris
The entrance to the Hotel Raphael, Paris
This 1925 townhouse is the clubbiest Parisian hotel, from dark wood and original Aubusson carpets of the entry hall to plush velvet chairs in the "English Bar."

The Raphael has been host to Katherine Hepburn, Marlon Brando, and presidents from Kennedy to GHW Bush (Eisenhower even made it his headquarters after the liberation of Paris).

Most rooms are done in Louis XVI style, with marble tables and fireplaces, gilded flourishes on the hardwood wardrobes, and two-tone 18th century-style scenes painted in niches above the doorways.

The "chambres de salon" junior deluxe suites have huge armoires and a sitting room separate from the bedroom, while the "chambres de boudoir" deluxe rooms feature a lighter decor, roomy baths, and small sitting rooms.

Even the simplest rooms, "chambres de charme" standard doubles, are oversized and posh, similar in decor to the boudoir but without the separate sitting room.

There is a honeymoon suite with views of the Arc de Triomphe, but if money is no object, I'd book the "Raphael Suite" One of Paris's finest lodgings, the "Paris" is a three story wonderland of opulence, from the hand-painted tiles of the Jacuzzi and genuine Louis XV-era Chinese paneling (taken from a castle in the Ardennes) to private access onto the choicest section of the roof terrace, with its excellent 360º views of Paris, including the nearby Arc and the Eiffel Tower.

Best tip: no matter what room you take, you can arrange to lunch up on that terrace for the best "dining with a view" the city has to offer.

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