Owned and managed by sisters Zeina and Sarah Georges, the Hôtel San Régis in Paris is a resplendent former mansion offering hospitality à la libanaise.
A few steps from the luxury boutiques of Avenue Montaigne, what was once a private mansion is now a unique five-star boutique hotel that feels like home. Originally built in 1857 at the order of decorator Edmond Petit, the property changed hands in 1923 when Simon André Terrail, owner of historic Parisian restaurant La Tour d’Argent, acquired it, transforming the mansion into an intimate hotel. Situated near the then-rising couturier Christian Dior, the San Régis became a favorite spot for celebrities such as Lauren Bacall, Gene Kelly, Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen, and Romy Schneider during the 1950s. Three decades later, Lebanese hotelier Elie Georges laid eyes on the property and was instantly captivated by the neoclassical facade and interior spaces decorated with antiques. With a zeal to rediscover its potential, Georges decided to purchase it, and a new chapter began.
“Our father fell in love with the San Régis,” recalls Zeina Georges, its current deputy managing director. “It is the hotel of his dreams. First, for its architecture, character, and quintessentially Parisian style; then, for its unrivaled location in a quiet street in the heart of the lively district of the ChampsElysées.” Driven by his desire to reinvigorate the house while preserving and revisiting the essence of classical Parisian aesthetics, Georges launched a complete renovation in 1985, supervised by French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. “He was given the objective to give each room distinctive decor, emphasizing the character of the former private house,” states Zeina. “A remarkable work has been achieved thanks to the close alliance between our father, who is an art lover, and the designer.”
In this authentic and independent family hotel – a long-held secret, gaining its reputation by word of mouth – Zeina and her sister Sarah, who took over management of the hotel in 2017, continue to honor the vision of their father while following his motto: “Live with passion and talent today and every day.” The siblings, who grew up in Paris, with Zeina working in marketing for Dior and Van Cleef & Arpels for several years, and Sarah in the consumer products division at L’Oréal, add, “We feel blessed to have this little gem in our hands. Offering to our clients what has been instilled in us since little girls is pure delight. Our mother taught us the art of hospitality with generosity à la libanaise and our father showed us that no detail is to be overlooked.”
The building’s initial renaissance was only the first step in a series of enhancements that continue today, where importance is afforded to every detail, piece of furniture, and artwork that adorn the space. “Most of the furnishings and paintings have been painstakingly hunted down by our father in the Marché aux Puces in Saint-Ouen on the outskirts of Paris, one of Europe’s biggest flea markets,” offers Sarah, general manager of the hotel. “This contributes undeniably to the soulful ambiance of the San Régis.”
In the 30 rooms and 12 suites – each with its own setting and decor (the Terrace junior suites offer views of the Eiffel Tower) – fine fabrics by Pierre Frey, Manuel Canovas, and Lelièvre are combined with period furniture like chests of drawers, writing desks, and wing chairs. Paintings, Baccarat crystal, sculptures, bronze pieces, and Italian marble in the bathrooms are some of the many treasures that can be found. Light tones and white paneling contrast with bright hues and dark wood furniture. “Colors vary from one room to another, from soft blues to flowery patterns, or from bright yellows to deep reds,” Zeina explains.
Originally published in the May 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia
“The biggest challenge is to preserve the authentic aspect, the elegance, and the intimacy of a typical Parisian home while integrating a touch of modernity. Our restaurant embodies this perfectly,” says Zeina. “The green walls, mirrors, China pieces, and fine furniture mixed with art deco touches and silky fabrics create a beautiful decor that balances between classic and contemporary.” The garden-like restaurant and tea room Les Confidences, which serves French cuisine, can host up to 34 guests and comprises three intimate lounges bathed with light. Boudoir sits under a sublime gilded chandelier; the Boiseries lounge is decorated with oak paneling, and Verrière is situated under the glass roof.
“Everything we do is guided by the will to preserve the essence of this classical Parisian spirit, to keep the special atmosphere of the former private house, and to emphasize the feeling of an art-loving hotel, where luxury means exclusivity and discreet service,” the sisters say. “While some properties invest in ostentatious luxury, we try to strengthen its intimacy and warmth. That’s what frequent travelers are looking for and that’s why we have so many loyal guests at the San Régis.”