In marked contrast to many of the light minuets of hotels we have become so accustomed to, Jacques Garcia has opted instead for a gorgeously draped, brooding and passion-filled operatic performance. The Maison Athénée, inspired by La Traviata, Aida, Faust and Don Giovanni, is a remarkably stylish and considered effort from the designer. Drawing heavily on ideas of 19th-century romance and aesthetics, Garcia has avoided the light airy interiors and porcelain classical forms of the previous century. Dimly-lit with occasional pools of light, the designs are often without clear form and verging on the romantically excessive. As with much of the art from the period – Thomas Lawrence’s painting of Lord Aberdeen is one fine example – bold strokes of red have been liberally applied to the background, replacing the more traditional pastel pallet. Heavy Pierre Frey drapes hang alongside the gorgeous, custom-made velvet couches. Secret rooms and nooks have also been built in to the boutique hotel, providing the twists, turns and sideways glances to the central plot of the Maison Athénée. This, combined with dark woods and gold, adds an intensity (often maddening) to the atmosphere.