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4. Inception: Le Royal Monceau Raffles, Paris

The Monceau presents a far more civilised surrealist experience for those wanting an Inception experience. The Raffles group's prestigious 2010 opening is not a renovation so much as a complete re-imagining. The classical white facade is still there, but the blood-red glass in the ornate iron canopy over the pavement presages the extraordinary interiors beyond.


Designed by Philippe Starck the mirrored walls and patterned tiled floors of a grand staircase make you feel as though you're in an Escher drawing. The chandeliers in the cafe are like banks of white coral; there are corridors with candy-striped walls, carpet and ceiling; and yes - that's a herd of life-sized rustic sculptures of deer and antelope awaiting you at the bottom of a flight of stairs. If writer / director Christopher Nolan didn't stay here while shooting the surrealist Parisian scenes for his sci-fi pic Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, he should have done.

The guest rooms and apartments, by contrast, are pale-toned tranquillity, with an eclectic mix of furniture, interesting lamps and luxurious touches like faux-fur throws. This isn't the blank-canvas style of hotel decor: there are books, decorative items, a bit of clutter. The intention is to create rooms which feel inhabited, like "a dear friend's home." These are obviously the kind of friends we'd all like to have.

Luxury Loves
The acoustic guitar in every guestroom, with guitar teacher on hand.
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4. Inception: Le Royal Monceau Raffles, Paris
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