A new, ultra-luxury hotel development on London’s Trafalgar Square announced in October was not enough to quell a rising tide of commentary suggesting the city is losing out to Paris in the race for affluent new tourist markets.

Of primary concern, critics say, is London’s lack of palatial-style hotels—the kind in which Paris is awash…The issue has been dividing London, between those who feel selling off public properties as hyper-elite hotels is unfair, and those who think the transformation of the historic yet dilapidated ceremonial gateway — built in 1912 as a tribute to Queen Victoria — will meet some of the unfilled demand for such hotels.

Asian brands such as Raffles Hotels & Resorts, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, and The Peninsula Hotels have chosen to bypass the British bottleneck for their European luxury debuts, overhauling stately historic buildings in Paris’ chic left bank arrondissement or neighborhoods instead.

Photo Credit: Spanish developer Rafael Serrano paid the British government $97 million to develop Admiralty Arch into a luxury hotel. Mat Stace / Flickr.com