This Renewed Five-star Hotel in Paris Has Some of the Best Eiffel Tower Views in the City

Hôtel Balzac’s sleek new redesign sets the standard for tech-savvy luxury, with loads of personality and meaningful interactions.

<p>Courtesy of Hotel Balzac</p>

Courtesy of Hotel Balzac

When I arrived at Hôtel Balzac for its opening day post-renovation and rebranding, it was not my first time entering through its dark wood-and-glass doors. After all, the hotel, just steps from the glitzy Avenue des Champs-Élysées, has occupied the exact location for decades, sharing its entryway with Pierre Gagnaire, the celebrated three Michelin-starred restaurant, since the 1990s. “The hotel near Pierre Gagnaire” was how I was directed to it when I had arrived nearly a decade prior. Back then, few had heard of the Hôtel Balzac, and the property struggled to stand out among its glamorous Parisian neighbors, but that has all changed now that hospitality mastermind Olivier Bertrand took over and breathed new life into this historic hotel.

Today, the hotel is one of the most desired boutique bookings in the City of Lights, and I all but sprinted to be one of the first to see the reimagined hotel when it opened on June 3, 2024.

<p>Courtesy of Hotel Balzac</p>

Courtesy of Hotel Balzac

I was immediately taken by the warm wood ceilings and contrasting non-polished marbled flooring as I was ushered to the white sofas lining the lobby for a glass of water. The symmetry was evident, with silver trays on each white ottoman, as they brought me a gently cooled welcome drink. Guests are checked in via iPads while they lounge on the living-room-style sofas or on the way to their rooms for an easy and seamless check-in experience. There’s an evident old-school hotel vibe with a modern twist throughout the hotel, a feature that trickles down to the electronic keys wrapped in leather tassels meant to be left at reception while exploring the city. Somehow, the hotel has managed to pull off a natural elegance that other Parisian hotels have struggled with for years — there’s the incredible ability to provide modern technology without losing the link to personal contact.

The hotel has a rich history of hosting writers, artists, and poets — and the site was once the home of French novelist Honoré de Balzac — and the property has reclaimed its storied elegance through a thoughtful redesign from designers Charlotte de Tonnac and Hugo Sauzay of Festen. The duo is known for the way they reimagine interiors within their own context, and instead of inserting their own style into Hotel Balzac’s redesign, they used the “soul of the building” itself as inspiration for reinventing the property’s Parisian identity. The public spaces are understated yet refined, starting with the glass-roofed lounge that doubles as the breakfast room and leads to a sunken speakeasy-esque bar with low lighting and high ceilings. “The entire property has been imagined as a tribute to the golden years of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées,” Nicolas Egloff, director of sales and marketing, told Travel + Leisure. “The end of the 1930s was the end of Art Deco and Japanism, so to create a timeless, soothing atmosphere is like a shelter from the Human Comedy [a reference to Balzac’s masterpiece].”

Neutral tones and minimalist lines play out in the public spaces, but the corridors to the rooms are a bit more playful with a gilded age motif and black doors outlined in gold. The 58 guest rooms return to the subdued aesthetic but, more importantly, return to Hotel Balzac’s signature talent of blending high-end technology with truly meaningful personal touches — like customized cocktails or framed wedding pictures on anniversaries. Under its new ownership and a new aesthetic, the Hotel Balzac is a celebration of the past and yet also a very refreshing example of how authentic human interaction can benefit modernity in a luxurious, and yes, quintessentially Parisian way.

Read on for my full review of Paris’ new Hotel Balzac.

Hotel Balzac

  • Breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower can be found in south-facing rooms on the top three floors, including the two suites (Ciel de Paris Suite and Suite Terrasse), rooms 405-410, and rooms 505-507.

  • Most of the furniture was custom-designed for the hotel by Festen, with textural pieces meant to be touched and used in the same way they would have been if they existed in the 1930s and 1940s.

  • A secret door leads to the three-Michelin-star rated restaurant by celebrated French chef Pierre Gagnaire, which, although the restaurant is entirely independent, shares historic space with the hotel.

  • The hotel’s bar hosts exclusive cocktail masterclasses for guests upon request.

  • The hotel is just steps from the Avenue des Champs-Élysées but is far enough from the main street to enjoy a quieter, more Parisian feel while still in the heart of Paris’ most fashionable arrondissement.

The Rooms

<p>Courtesy of Hotel Balzac</p>

Courtesy of Hotel Balzac

The hotel has 58 rooms and suites, ranging from a 215-square-foot “Boudoir” room to the 1,140-square-foot, two-room Ciel de Paris suite. Each brings its own sense of Parisian aesthetic while remaining authentic to the hotel’s “quiet luxury” ethos. Wooden-handled Bodrum tea kettles and Sjösrand Nespresso coffee makers are standard and complimented by a rotating selection of house-made liqueurs in the minibar with accompanying in-room cocktail books. High ceilings give a sense of grandeur, while custom velvet sofas and lounge chairs bring a textural sense of livable luxury. Plush king beds are standard in all the suites, with soaking tubs and French Diptyque bath products in all categories of rooms. The top floor is divided into two suites — the Terrace Suite and the Ciel de Paris Suite — each with private terraces and uninterrupted views of the Eiffel Tower.

Food and Drink

Although Pierre Gagnaire’s celebrated restaurant is independent of the hotel, a secret door leads directly to the restaurant, and the new hotel management has a great relationship with the renowned chef. (The only difference between Gagnaire’s restaurant and one that is associated is the ability to charge the meal to the room.)

Hotel-run dining includes a glass-roofed lobby lounge that hosts gourmet snacks — i.e., truffled croque-monsieurs and the famous chocolat chaud from Angelina — and daily breakfasts served opposite a grand fireplace. Just a few steps down from the lounge is the Balzac Bar, with its Parisian speakeasy vibes and moody lighting. The bar’s wine list is a who’s-who of French winemakers, with creative cocktail names and upscale bar snacks, like Petrossian caviar and Bellota ham from Spain.

Activities and Experiences

As a hotel that prioritizes personal interaction, it’s no surprise that its concierge services are second to none. Restaurant reservations and shopping experiences are every day asks, but even tips, like where to find the best croissants in town, are part of the training for the knowledgeable staff. The hotel operates a small but mighty fitness room, which includes weight machines, cardio equipment, and a studio space that hosts regular yoga classes, but the crowning jewel of its wellness offerings is its Ikoi Spa. The spa partnered with French brand Omnisens to provide organic treatments and naturopathy care under the lens of Japanese techniques, where massages are held both on the table or tatami mats. A dreamy plunge pool and heated sauna round out the hotel’s wellness offerings.

Accessibility and Sustainability

The hotel offers three accessible rooms and a wheelchair lift.

Along with incorporating second-hand furniture into the designs, the hotel made significant upgrades to the property’s sustainability efforts, installing pressure reducers to conserve water and installing presence detectors with LED lighting. All in-room products are organic and made in France and are only available in larger formats to eliminate the need for single-use products. The hotel limits the change of sheets and towels and established a comprehensive system for sorting, recycling, and reducing waste throughout the building.


The Hotel Balzac benefits from its ideal location just off the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, narrowly avoiding the overly touristic foot traffic from which hotels directly on the busy avenue suffer. The sidewalks are walkable, and the streets are quiet around the hotel — with a celebrated French cinema sharing a name just a few feet away — while just a few blocks away, all of Paris’ busiest shopping destinations can be found. The nearest Metro stop is George V, which connects travelers to the city via Metro line 1 and virtually eliminates the need for a car. Additionally, numerous bus routes pass near this popular area, and it’s easy to walk around the area, with the Arc de Triomphe just a short eight-minute walk from the hotel’s front door. Here are some more local tips on organizing your trip to the City of Lights.

How to Get the Most Value Out of Your Stay

Hotel Balzac is a Relais & Châteaux property, and members of the Relais & Châteaux Guest Recognition Programme can receive perks like curated gift boxes with dining benefits and spa privileges, as well as personalized service based on individual profiles and preferences. Book during the Paris off-season (typically between December and February) to take advantage of the year's lowest prices.

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