Parisian Splendor

The refurbished L'Hôtel

When Jacques Garcia was asked to refurbish L'Hôtel, set in one of St.-Germain-des-Près' most elegant mansions, some feared that the designer of the chic Hotel Costes would impose on it an ultramodern vision. Instead, L'Hôtel has reopened looking like a polished antique. Garcia restored the frescoed atrium; dressed alcoves and sitting rooms in plush velvets and silks; and added a dramatic skylight over the dining room. Maintaining the architecture's integrity (including an in-the-round layout) meant that some of the 20 themed rooms feel cramped. Two exceptions: the Art Deco Mistinguett (named for the '20s chanteuse), with Lalique lamps and Mistinguett's own mirror-mosaic bedframe; and the wood-paneled Oscar Wilde, where the writer lived and famously died "above his means."

WHAT WE LOVED The privacy of the small pool and steam room in the vaulted, candlelit cellar; Room 54's petite balcony, with stage-set views of Paris rooftops.

WHAT COULD BE BETTER The rooms show their age in a dearth of electrical outlets—it's impossible to work on a laptop while recharging a cell phone without unplugging some lamps first.

Rooms, $260-$690. At 13 Rue des Beaux Arts, Paris; 33-1-44-41-99-00; fax 33-1-43-25-64-81;