For some reason, Le Meridien hotels in Europe hold mid-20th century vehicles in high regard (maybe it's because the hotels' design aesthetic is mid-century modern). At Paris' Le Meridien Etoile, which recently celebrated its 50th birthday, I became acquainted for the first time with 2CV Paris Tours, a company that offers rides in another cultish Citroen automobile, the bug-eyed but adorable CV2, which plays ugly duckling to the DS' swan. Introduced in 1948, nearly 4 million of these two-cylinder cars were sold during a 42-year production run. Prepare to be the center of attention as you cruise past Paris' famous landmarks because paparazzi are going to Instagram you (or at least give you some thumbs up), and with the sunroof rolled back you can stand up and Instagram them. (2CVparistour.com, prices from 70 euros.)
Speaking of the paparazzi, pests that have traditionally driven a Vespa to chase their prey, the concierge at Rome's Visconti Hotel can set you up with My Vespa Tours, a company renting the classic putt-putt made famous in countless Italian films of the 50s and 60s (Rock Hudson squires Gina Lollobrigida on the back of one in 1961's silly rom-com "Come September"); or they'll provide a driver if the idea of navigating Rome's madcap traffic seems too crazy. It's a great way to see a lot of Rome in a short time, snapping photos as you pass the city's historic treasures. (MyVespatours.com, tour prices start at 68 euros.)
You will definitely be the driver, however, if indulging in the "Grand Touring Experience" offered by three classic European hotels. The package includes a five-day rental of a Ferrari 488 GTB (zero to 60 in 3.0 seconds), a Porsche 911 Turbo convertible, or a Maserati GranCabrio MC convertible along with one night at the historic Dolder Grand in Zurich including breakfast, dinner and drinks; two nights at the Chedi Hotel in Andermatt, Switzerland, including a four-course dinner; and a two-night stay at Lake Como's Il Sereno Lago di Como, including dinner with wine pairings. Also included: insurance for that very valuable car you'll be driving ($4,975, thechediandermatt.com).
Four Seasons Hotels also package vintage cars — a 1960 Giulietta Spider, a 1958 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Cabrio or a 1956 Porsche 356A Speedster — with stays at their properties in Florence and Milan and the legendary Grand Hotel Cap-Ferrat on the Cote d'Azur. Start your grand tour at any of the three hotels, and their concierges will recommend the best stops along the way. (Prices vary, on request, FourSeasons.com).
And speaking of classic cars and the hotels that love them, I’ve just learned that Manhattan’s Baccarat Hotel ferries guests around town, for free, in a pristine cherry red 1972 Citroen DS. Guess where I’m staying next time I visit New York City.