“There are only five of these in the world. The Disney clock represents the special time you’ll share with us and the fleur-de-lys represents royalty,” Cristina told me, caressing a Victorian-inspired gold locket pinned to the lapel of her suit.
Cristina was one of five “royal greeters” working the lobby, in dapper top hat and tails, at Disneyland Paris’s newly reopened five-star flagship hotel. The go-to address since 1992 for visitors wanting to practically wake up in the theme park, this much-loved hotel with candyfloss-pink Victorian-style façade and mansard roof closed in 2021 for a desperately needed makeover.
Disney royalty – predominantly princesses – is the new theming, with an elevated level of five-star luxury to match. The hotel’s general manager, Majbritt Iaconis, was previously at Paris’s Plaza Athénée, Ritz and Mandarin Oriental hotels.
Decorative features such as chandeliers – not to mention the 18 themed suites and refined Castle Club rooms with private check-in, personal concierge and lift delivering guests straight to the Disneyland Park entrance – feel like an aspirational nod to the French capital’s Palace hotels (a category that is better than five-star). There’s even a sleek Clarins spa offering spoiling treatments for adults and children.
Playful interaction with Disney princesses is a huge attraction of the redesigned hotel and an intrinsic part of its new USP: immersive storytelling. Albert and Camille of the Royal Troupe – two new characters created especially for the hotel – are also on hand to greet arrivals in the lobby with song, dance and theatre in the company of a Disney princess.
Belle invites guests to act the Beast and before you know it, you could be singing A Whole New World in karaoke with Princess Jasmine – consider yourself warned.
Sixteen “story keepers” are each trained by Laurent Cayuela, an official show writer at Disneyland Paris since 2001. From the Central Rotunda lounge, with its royal blue, 82ft-high domed ceiling hand-painted with 632 fleurs-de-lys, I must have spotted a dozen princesses promenading in circles around the elegant, chateau-esque galleries on the upper floors.
Then, of course, there is the dining. Mickey and Minnie parade around the Royal Banquet restaurant, with notably lavish seafood and desserts; Disney princesses are the belles of the ball in fine-dining La Table de Lumière, inspired by the Palace of Versailles’s mirrored ballroom. Dining at these restaurants doesn’t come cheap: the Royal Banquet will set you back €100 (£86) a head (€50 for children aged three to 11 years); at La Table de Lumière it will cost you €120/60 to er, be their guest.
It’s hard to drag yourself away from the spectacular lobby, which is styled like a castle library with fireplace, shelves of faux leather-bound books and a crystal chandelier that rains down 20ft from the ceiling in 12,000 hypnotic droplets of sparkling glass pearls, prisms, octagons and twinkling stars.
In the lead-up to the highly anticipated reopening, Disneyland Paris made much of the 200-plus French and European companies it called upon to share their savoir faire, and the craftsmanship and attention to detail are excellent.
The 2,600lb chandelier was blown by a master glass-blower in the Czech Republic. Fabrics for 27,777 costumes worn by the hotel staff of 800 were woven by third-generation jacquard specialists Dutel in the French silk-weaving capital of Lyon. At 6pm each evening, the punchy floral smell that hits you upon arrival in the lobby morphs into a warmer, velvety night scent of rose and musky sandalwood.
The Royal Collection Boutique, which, unlike other Disney hotel shops, is open only to guests of the hotel, sells both scents, along with a model Sleeping Beauty Castle by Paris glassmaker Miguel Arribas, knitted from two million glass loops and yours for €150,000 (£128,000).
The themed suites – 16 Signature, plus a Princely and Royal variation – were designed by Sylvie Massara, the creative talent behind the park’s flush of themed hotels since 1996, including Disney Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel.
The canopy above the bed in my Deluxe Room – which, at the flick of a bedside switch, twinkles and changes hue – felt rather tame compared with the full-sized suit of armour and Princess Aurora’s dress that flip-flops between pink and blue in the Sleeping Beauty Signature Suite, or the snow-white grand piano and unparalleled park view in the Frozen-themed Royal Suite (there is also a Frozen-themed Signature Suite). While entry-level Superior rooms start at a relatively affordable £250, a night in the Royal Suite, which sleeps two adults and a baby, is priced at £9,375 for the next available date in February (including park tickets).
The morning after my stay, thanks to the hotel’s location by the park gates, I’d battled with evil on Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain and saved the world from intergalactic threat with the Avengers several times over by 10am. Later, I could easily retire to the hotel for lunch and again for afternoon tea and a recovery dip in the pool.
Passing the boutique on my way to pre-dinner cocktails at the Fleur de Lys bar that evening, I spied a trail of golden glitter leading into the Royal Tailor Salon. A mini Cinderella emerged, spellbound by her own magical transformation. “Disney adults” will love this hotel – and even the most sceptical will struggle not to be enchanted – but for children, it’s another level of magic entirely.
The Disneyland Hotel offers Superior rooms from £250.