18 February 2006
I was walking down the Rue Castiglione this week and noticed the big billboards covering the building at the corner of Rue de Rivoli. Up until January, this was the Paris InterContinental. Now it's called The Westin, although aside from a few signage changes, for the moment it still looks very much the same as it did when I stopped by in September. But I hear big renovations are planned for the massive 438-room conference hotel, so stay tuned.
I think the change is good. I never really liked this hotel despite its beautiful ballrooms and historic architecture. All conference hotels have a conference hotel atmosphere, no matter how pretty they look. The other weird thing was that it always confused the tourists because there were actually two InterContinental hotels, the remaining one, known as the InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel, located nearby across from the Opéra Garnier. This one was completely renovated two years ago, and while very impressive, is also a conference hotel (although it's nice to have a drink in their intimate bar just past the winter garden atrium).
I think it's funny that their website doesn't mention what happened to the other hotel, but rather has an oddly prominent quote in the center of the home page that says:
"There is only one Paris. There is only one InterContinental."
No mention of who this quote is from...maybe it's the endless refrain chanted into the phone by the receptionist feiliding calls from confused travelers looking for the "one near the Tuileries".