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five star hotel Paris

Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Paris

Meet Kléopatre at Le Bristol Paris

Fa-Raon, the pampered Birman cat at Le Bristol Paris, is beloved of guests and known across the world as the luxury palace hotel’s number one VIP.

However, no cat is an island and Fa-Raon needed a fellow four-legged friend to accompany him on his adventures around the hotel.  Enter Kléopatre – an equally regal white Birman cat who Fa-Raon has graciously welcomed into his stylish abode with open paws.

Kléopatre and Fa-Raon live together in a special apartment located within the hotel, which has been exclusively decorated by renowned street artists, Renk.  The walls are covered in their names and the word ‘cat’ in many different languages.

Le Bristol insiders say that Fa-Raon has already taken Kléopatre on a tour of his favourite hotel haunts, including the top of the Concierge counter, which he often uses as his own napping spot or vanity table for grooming.

In celebration of the arrival of Kléopatre, Maison Goyard has created for her a bespoke ‘Oscar’ bow-tie collar, which will be worn with a silver tag by silversmith Christofle and graphic design duo Ich & Kar who created the personalised lettering.  It matches a similar Goyard bow-tie collar given to Fa-Raon by the maison on his third birthday.

Yes, these fluffy Parisian felines have the kind of glamorous lives and social connections that only you and I could only ever dream of.  But don’t be envious, just stop by Le Bristol and see if you can spot them in the garden or curled up in the lobby.  If you’re lucky, they may extend a paw and welcome you into their home.

Photos by Le Bristol Paris

Bars, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Paris

A Cocktail Tour of Paris with Le Bar du Bristol

Le Bar du Bristol is a favourite haunt among stylish Parisians and clued-up visitors for a chic apéritif or an evening of creative cocktails.

Opened at the end of 2012, the bar is an intimate, cosy hideaway within the luxurious five star palace hotel Le Bristol, in Paris’ prestigious eighth arrondissement.  It has Le Bristol’s signature friendly, unpretentious atmosphere and attracts a well-heeled crowd – perfect for a bit of civilised people-watching.

I had a memorable stay at Le Bristol a few years ago and was thrilled to be invited back for two nights to attend a special masterclass and cocktail tour of Paris hosted by award-winning Head Bartender Maxime Hoerth.

We travelled to Paris by Eurostar and enjoyed the delights of Standard Premier – spacious seating, generous luggage allowance and a tasty meal with drinks and plenty of tea or coffee, plus a selection of complimentary glossy magazines to pass the time.

On arrival, I found that the lovely people at Le Bristol had kindly assigned me the very same Junior Suite that I stayed in last time as a surprise.  It was wonderful to feel like a regular and I was touched that they had planned this even though the hotel was busy.  After checking in, we were granted a private audience with Fa-Raon, the hotel’s famous Birman cat (he is the hotel’s real VIP, after all).

The highlight of the trip was a private cocktail masterclass at Le Bar du Bristol with Head Bartender Maxime Hoerth.  After a leisurely lunch in Le Jardin Français, we spent a few hours learning all about Le Bristol’s approach to the art of cocktails, even getting behind the bar ourselves.

Designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon and Maja Oetker, Le Bar du Bristol is a chic yet homely space with exquisite frescoes and tapestries, plus quirky touches such as leopard print stools and taxidermy birds and peacocks.  There is even a cosy open fireplace where guests can curl up with a fine whisky – that’s if Fa-Raon hasn’t claimed the space for himself.

Head Bartender Maxime Hoerth is a well-known personality on the Paris cocktail scene and was awarded the title of ‘Best Craftsman in France 2011′.  Not only is he France’s top mixologist (and a really cool, friendly guy), but he knows Paris inside out and is happy to share tips on where to go.

Maxime’s favourite cocktail is an Old Fashioned, so he demonstrated how to make six different versions of the classic drink, including a special Christmas Old Fashion made with a home-made spice syrup, an Irish Old Fashioned using Kahlua and a Bourbon Old Fashioned.

Maxime offered to create a special cocktail for each of our websites, based on the types of drinks that we like.  I reeled off a number of favourite ingredients and within a matter of moments, the Chérie Club was born.

Based on a classic Clover Club, my new signature drink includes No.3 London Dry Gin, St Germain liqueur, muddled raspberries, lychee flavours, rose syrup, lemon juice and egg white.  I loved the fresh, fragrant taste and the romantic presentation with dried rosebuds and a touch of sugar on the rim.

An exciting new project from Le Bar du Bristol is the Spirited Cocktails Collection, a collaboration between Maxime Hoerth and La Maison du Chocolat Master Chef Nicolas Cloiseau.  The limited edition chocolates are based on Le Bar du Bristol’s unique cocktails flavours, marrying the finest juices, fruits and tea with sumptuous dark and milk chocolate.

The five chocolate flavours include MOF2, Bellini, Faubourg, So Bristol and Peacock and come in coffets of 8 or 27 chocolates bearing the signature colours of Le Bristol.

Our first stop on the cocktail tour was Le Mary Celeste, a hip nautical-inspired bar in the Marais.  Created by the team behind Candelaria and Glass, Le Mary Celeste is a popular spot among Paris’ creative crowd – it even hosted a pop-up raw juice bar during Paris Fashion Week.

Over drinks and bites, Maxime Hoerth introduced us to the Paris cocktail scene, explaining that the arrival of the Experimental Cocktail Club kicked off a trend for artisanal cocktails served in low-key bars in the city’s coolest neighbourhoods.

The well-edited selection of cocktails are exciting and innovative, plus the bar offers a tempting menu of small plates and has a daily oyster happy hour.  My chosen cocktail was Valentina – Plantation 3 Stars Rum, violet liqueur, fino sherry and lime (€12).  Served in a coupe, the fragrant and tangy cocktail had an attractive pale pink colour and was finished with a sprig of lavender.

We grazed on a selection of gourmet small plates including the most delicious Gratin Japonais (€9), Spiced Cauliflower with almonds and pickled red onions (€8), Crudo of Pollack with with soya sauce, orange and fennel (€11), Aubrac Beef Tartare with rice, pork rinds, fresh herbs and a spicy sauce (€12) and Devilled Eggs with ginger, fried rice and spring onions (€7).

Dishes on the constantly changing menu are so tasty and inventive that it’s worth visiting Le Mary Celeste for dinner rather than just drinks, to experience as many as possible.  The bar is also well-placed for a hip bar crawl with neighbours such as Candelaria, Little Red Door, Grazie and wine bar Au Passage.

Just a short walk away from Le Mary Celeste, is Sherry Butt, a laid-back, spacious bar that specialises in rare and interesting whiskies.  It has a hidden, discreet feel and is designed in a cool industrial loft style with exposed brick walls, high ceilings and leather banquettes.

Cathleen McGarry and Amaury Guyot opened Sherry Butt after honing their skills at Curio Parlour and Prescription Cocktail Club.  We were lucky enough to have a large table to ourselves when we visited on a chilled out Wednesday evening, but the bar can get much busier when DJs play on weekends.

Sherry Butt is known for its excellent Whiskey Flights, but we were keen to try the cocktails, all of which are priced between 12 and 13 Euros.  After the delicious small plates at Le Mary Celeste, I was in the mood for something sweet, so I tried a Banana Rose – Calvados, Tawny Port, banana flambee syrup, lemon juice and chocolate bitters (€13).

The bar bites at Sherry Butt are simple, delicious and ideal for sharing.  We grazed on moreish Pata Negra ham (€20), Taramasolata with Truffle and toasted sourdough (€13), cool and creamy Burrata Tartines with pistachio pesto (€14) and some tasty Sausage Rolls with tomato and Pedro Ximinez chutney (€12).

Sherry Butt is a cool, chilled out place to catch up with friends or bring a date, plus it’s close to the bars of the Marais and within stumbling distance of Saint Paul to catch a cab.

The next evening, Maxime took us to Jefrey’s, a small but sophisticated bar in the fashionable Montorgueil neighbourhood, on the same cobbled street as Experimental Cocktail Club (and hipster burger joint Big Fernand for pre or post-cocktail munchies).

The speakeasy bar takes inspiration from the Prohibition era and is furnished with comfy purple velvet and and brown leather armchairs, silver tray tables and dimmed lighting.  The mezzanine level features a vintage gramophone and a cabinet storing premium bottles bought by regulars.

Mixing at the bar is Guillaume Bisiaux, formerly at the Prince de Galles and Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme.  His innovative cocktails (many with American-inspired names) include the the gin-based Colline de Portland, an El Rey made with Tio Pepe sherry and a Bubble Cup made with Mamont vodka, Pimms Cup, raspberry cordial, rose and Champagne.

Another cool touch is Jefrey’s DIY Martini, offering a wide selection of spirits and mixers for a custom drink.

I loved the refreshing, smooth Bonne Poire – Grey Goose La Poire vodka, liqueur de Poire Bierce, Alain Milliat Summer Pear Nectar, lime juice and home-made vanilla syrup.  We accompanied our drinks with some light bar plates of scrumptious Pata Negra ham, Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella and Cheese Straws.

To round off a splendid evening in Paris, it was then back ‘home’ to Le Bar du Bristol.  By night, the bar has a warm glow and buzzing atmosphere with well-heeled guests sipping cocktails on the plush sofas.  A cool Parisienne DJ plays sexy French disco and soul and the enormous screen behind the bar shows contemporary art videos by a different artist each month (during our visit, Corsican artist Ange Leccia’s work was shown).

On arrival we were presented with a sweet and fruity welcome cocktail while Maxime talked us through the bar menu.  I started with a zingy, aptly aptly named So British – Earl Grey infused Beefeater 24 gin, Monin elderflower syrup, freshly squeezed lime and and fresh grapefruit juice.

The cocktails are creatively presented, particularly the 365 – a limited edition cocktail made to celebrate the bar’s first birthday – served in a tall, elegant coupe and finished with a colourful peacock feather.  I also loved the warm, spicy Hot Punch, which was an excellent night cap.

Tapas are by the hotel’s Executive Chef Eric Frechon and we munched on a luxurious selection of Gambas Tempura with ginger and coriander mayonnaise, Maki Rolls with king crab and vegetables in spicy ketchup, Pata Negra ham and Crudités.  To end the night on a sweet note, we enjoyed a plate of exquisite mini pastries, a selection of macarons and hand-made chocolates.

Le Bar du Bristol is open until 1.30am and it is a rare luxury to simply wander back upstairs after a night out in Paris – hotel bars are perfect for that.

The next morning, I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of Eggs Benedict with shaved black truffle, viennoiserie by Laurent Jeannin, fresh apple juice and a pot of English breakfast tea, served in my room.  A stay at Le Bristol isn’t complete without a relaxing swim in the hotel’s glorious rooftop pool with a great view over Paris.

We finished our stay with an indulgent lunch in the hotel’s Michelin star brasserie de luxe, 114 Faubourg.  I took a reflective pause in the hotel’s beautiful, peaceful garden before we headed back to Gare du Nord to take the Eurostar back to London without even the slightest hint of a sore head – it must be the magic of Le Bristol.

Rates at Le Bristol start from €830 per night on a room only basis.  For more information and booking, visit: www.lebristolparis.com

The Spirited Cocktails Collection is available at La Maison du Chocolat stores and online from 5th May 2014. 

Eurostar operates up to 18 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare Du Nord with return fares from £69. Eurostar also offers connecting fares from more than 300 stations in the UK. Fastest London-Paris journey time is 2hr 15 minutes. Tickets are available from eurostar.com or 08432 186 186.

2-for-1
Eurostar travellers to Paris can also take advantage of 2 for 1 entry into paying exhibitions and permanent collections at some of the city’s most popular galleries including; Musée d’Orsay, les Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Le musée du quai Branly and le Jeu de Paume – all by simply showing their Eurostar tickets at entry.

Standard Premier
With the option of flexible fares, Standard Premier offers the freedom to work, think, or simply unwind. You will be presented with calm, spacious surroundings with on-board staff offering a light meal and a selection of magazines. Standard Premier fares start from £189 return.

Chérie City was a guest of Le Bristol and Eurostar

Photos by Chérie City, Le Bristol, Le Mary Celeste & Jefrey’s

Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Paris

Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg

Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg is a contemporary luxury hotel in the heart of the city that epitomises Parisian chic.

The five star hotel occupies a prestigious corner on rue Boissy d’Anglas, just a few moments away from Concorde and Madeleine.  It’s ideally positioned for designer shopping on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and is in good company with neighbours Hermès, Lanvin, Cartier, Chanel, Givenchy and L’Eclaireur.  Plus, what could be better than being so close to Ladurée and Angelina for afternoon tea?

Having previously visited Sofitel St James London and Sofitel Philadelphia, I knew that Sofitel hotels always have a certainly je ne sais quoi, but I was really wowed by Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg with its close attention to detail and sensory appeal.

The sophisticated yet playful hotel pays homage to Parisian couture with iconic fashion photography by Cathleen Naundorf and illustration by Sonia Delaunay, glass cabinets showcasing Dior handbags and accessories and glossy fashion magazines adorning the tables in the lobby.  During our stay, we spotted a flurry of Chanel, Céline and Hermès shopping bags resting on seats and being delivered to guest rooms, cementing its reputation as a fashion hotel.

Entering the hotel, guests are enveloped in a seductive rose scent that stays with you until you leave.  A soundtrack of sexy French disco sets the mood and the buzzing lobby is worthy of people-watching with a constant stream of well-heeled Parisians and stylish international guests.

Check in was friendly and efficient and we were personally shown to our Prestige Collection Suite, which we made our home for two nights.

Designed by Didier Gomez, our spacious fourth floor suite, overlooking the quiet courtyard, was slick and contemporary with a touch of 18th century elegance.  It featured a separate lounge with a comfy seating area, a large TV, a walk-in closet with plenty of storage space and an ornate gold mirror.

The additional living area made the suite feel like an apartment and was perfect for relaxing with a drink after a long day exploring Paris.  The free wifi was easy to connect and helped us with planning each day.

We were welcomed to the hotel with some delicious double chocolate mini muffins served under a glass dome and a fabulous book titled Literary Escapes.

Sofitel invites writers to spend a week in a suite in one of its hotels around the world as a ‘writer in residence’, taking inspiration from the city.  This book is a collection of those short stories and a wonderful bed companion, particularly Patrick Chamoiseau’s story, ‘The Antillaise’s Last Smile’, written at Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg.

A fabulous perk of staying in a Prestige Collection Suite is a complimentary minibar stocked with premium fruit juices, iced tea, Coca-Cola, sparkling water and a large glass bottle of Evian.  The minibar was replenished on our second day, so we had plenty of refreshing drinks to enjoy in the lounge or take out with us during the day.

As if the complimentary minibar wasn’t enough, we also had a Nespresso machine (complete with a number of espresso capsules) and tea making facilities with a selection of fine tea, including my favourite peppermint.

The bedroom was refined and seductive, designed in a palette of white and accents of gold, with a luxurious beige carpet bearing the Sofitel logo.  I was excited to try the signature Sofitel MyBed, which was without a doubt one of the best hotel beds I’ve ever slept in.  

As I was staying with my mother, housekeeping kindly made the king-size bed into two twins with our own separate duvets.  It felt like sleeping on a cloud and everything was just perfect, from the layers of sumptuous padding, luxurious sheets and plump pillows to the ideal bed height.  

There is even a pillow menu to personally customise the MyBed.  I always forget to make use of this feature in luxury hotels, but I was already smitten with the signature pillows and didn’t need anything else.

Despite being in the very centre of Paris, our suite was surprisingly quiet and tranquil at night.  The hotel is located next to the American Embassy, so the 24-hour police presence at the end of the street limits traffic, which means an uninterrupted sleep for hotel guests.

In the evening, the bedroom was prepared for sleeping with the duvet turned down, cotton mats and slippers placed by the bed, curtains drawn, classical music playing from the Bose sound system and new bottles of Evian on the bedside tables.  The final touch was a delicious chocolate and toasted coconut disc by Jean-Paul Hévin on the pillow.

The sleek, slate grey bathroom featured a large walk-in shower, magnifying mirror, lots of the finest quality towels and plush bathrobes with the Sofitel logo.

I was delighted to find a full set of Hermès Eau d’Orange bathroom amenities both on the counter and in the shower.  How appropriate since Hermès is a neighbour, conveniently opposite the hotel on the rue Saint-Honoré.

Each morning, we had breakfast in the hotel’s chic restaurant Les Collections.  It’s a popular morning spot not only for guests but for Parisian fashion and media types visiting for breakfast meetings, so it’s often necessary to wait in the lobby for a table during peak times.  If you’re on a tight schedule in the morning, I would recommend having breakfast in the library or in your room.

Also designed by Didier Gomez, the bright and airy restaurant resembles an haute couture garden with trompe l’oeil greenery and ivy printed on the walls and mirrors.   In fact, the restaurant leads on to a leafy courtyard garden, where guests can enjoy a cocktail or al fresco lunch in the summer months, away from the crowds on the main street.

À la carte dishes such as waffles, pancakes and eggs to order are available, however we were tempted simply by the excellent buffet.  We were instantly brought a basket of the most delicious, flaky pastries – the kind that you hope to wake up to when in Paris.  My English Breakfast Tea was served in a heavy Asian-style teapot while my mum’s freshly-brewed coffee came in a large cafetière.

The breakfast buffet had a good selection of quality breakfast items and I particularly liked the bar laden with healthy mini smoothie shots, juices and traditional French yoghurts.  Of course, we couldn’t be too virtuous when there was a whole table dedicated to cake, with scrumptious mini muffins, brownies, Madeleines and even a tarte aux poires.

At lunch and dinner, Les Collections offers a menu of innovative French dishes with an Asian twist, created by Chef Keigo Kimura.  The restaurant feels like a secret address and much more discreet than the people-watching brasseries of the areas, plus the menu is just as fresh and appealing as the interiors.

Another intimate spot in the hotel is Bar 30 with warm, elegant interiors and a cosy clubhouse feel.  My favourite part of the hotel was the stylish library, just off the lobby, where guests can enjoy a drink and flick through a great selection of books.

To relax and unwind, the hotel offers a spa for massages and facials using Cinq Mondes products, a 24-hour gym, an ‘experience’ steam room and hammam.

Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg is a sophisticated, fun hotel with lots of personality and an unbeatable location.  It’s the kind of hotel that leaves a lasting impression and you really just won’t want to leave.

For more information and booking, visit: www.sofitel.com

Chérie City was invited by Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg

Photos by Chérie City and Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg

France, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Paris, Restaurants

Dining at Shangri-La Paris

Shangri-La Paris is one of the city’s most exciting luxury hotels for dining and the Michelin Guide has been quick to acknowledge the high standard of its restaurants.

During my stay, I was lucky enough to dine at all three restaurants and enjoy a glass of Champagne at the pop up Bollinger Champagne Bar on the terrace.

The hotel’s gastronomic, two Michelin star restaurant L’Abeille (paying homage to Napoleon’s bee emblem) is one of the city’s most prestigious new fine dining restaurants and getting a reservation requires advance planning.

Executive Chef Philippe Labbé creates exciting, innovative dishes using the freshest ingredients and the dining experience is meticulously choreographed.

The dining room is chic and intimate with well-spaced tables, overlooking the hotel’s picturesque gardens.

Philippe Labbé devised a special set menu for our group, presenting the very best of the late-summer season.  We began the meal with an amuse-bouche platter of candied pear, yuzu meringue, cucumber roll and wafer-thin shortbread topped with freeze-dried raspberry, all served on a black slate.

To start, we enjoyed Royal Scampi from Summer Isle – Tartare flavoured Royal Scampi with Verbena Oil and fresh raspberries, mildly cooked with raspberry vinegar from Jean-Marc Montegoterro and with torrefied locust seed (€95).  The plump, steamed scampi went perfectly with the sharp raspberry and the fragrant lemon verbena – a dish bursting with freshness.

This was followed with Lamb from Limousin – roasted fillet with cumin and red onions, sweetbread cooked with garlic, mashed spicy eggplant (€164).  The dish was presented under a glass bell jar and ceremoniously lifted in unison by our waiters.  The lamb was succulent and tender, partnered with a crispy, rich sweetbread and infused with smoky Middle Eastern flavours.

The cheese trolley looked too tempted for us to resist, so we squeezed in a Selection of Cheeses, from Maitres Bernard and Olivier Antony (€26).  My chosen cheeses were of the finest standard and deliciously creamy and full-bodied, served with candied dried fruits and bread.

Dessert was as spectacular as I could have hoped for in a two Michelin star restaurant in the city of divine pastry.  Philippe Labbé unique take on a Bourbon Vanilla Millefeuille (€28) was filled with light vanilla cream, cloud-like meringue, caramel cream, sticky vanilla syrup and pieces of gold leaf.

To round off an exquisite meal, we were treated to a selection of petit fours – chocolates filled with yuzu, ginger and chili, yuzu lollipops and light biscuits accompanied with chocolate, lemon meringue and strawberry pâte de fruits.

We had the chance to meet Philippe Labbé at the end of the meal and we were generously presented with a large pot of Shangri-La honey from Corsica before leaving.

L’Abeille is haute cuisine at its very best (with top end prices to reflect this) and the experience is truly magical.

One Michelin star Shang Palace brings the art of Cantonese fine dining to Paris, serving authentic Chinese dishes created by Shenzen native, Chef Frank Xu.  The spacious dining room is Chinese elegance at its very best with Jade panels, vases and artwork sourced directly from Chinese artisans.

We enjoyed lunch at Shang Palace as we arrived in Paris and feasted on the Chef’s selection of  traditional dim sum, barbecued meats and comforting soups.

We started by sharing baskets of delicious Siu Mai Shrimp and Pork Dumplings with Crab Roe and slices of Barbecued Duck, Pork and Chicken, which were placed on rotating glass at the centre of the table.

I particularly liked the Red Rice Flour Rolls with Shrimp, which included mixed vegetables and shrimp in a crunchy batter covered in a soft, sticky red rice flour roll – a signature dish at Shang Palace.

This was followed by a tasty, comforting Crab Meat Dumpling in a superior clear soup. Deep-Fried Prawns with Crispy Garlic and Chili were plump and flavoursome with a generous coating of potent garlic crumbs.

Wok-Fried Sliced Beef with Black Pepper Sauce was indulgent with a sweet and tangy sauce, while Braised Eggplant with Diced Chicken and Salty Fish in a Claypot was full of interesting flavours.  These dishes were accompanied by tasty Egg-Fried Rice with Pork and Shrimp and our Chinese green tea was constantly refilled.

Luckily after such a decadent lunchtime feast, dessert was a light and refreshing Chilled Mango Cream with Pomelo and Sago.

La Bauhinia, with its glass cupola and Murano glass chandelier, serves afternoon tea, light bites and a dinner menu of French and South East Asian specialities.  We enjoyed a relaxed dinner there and I loved being able to choose dishes from two different types of cuisine for each course.

To start, I ordered the Pan-Seared Prawns with Coriander, Guacamole and Mango Salad (€26).  Not only was the dish beautifully presented but every mouthful was an absolute delight.  The pan-seared prawns were plump and succulent and went perfectly with the cool, smooth avocado and the fresh, juicy mango salsa.  It’s a great dish to order if you feel like something light and exceptionally tasty.

It was very tough trying to decide on a main course, as everything sounded so tempting, but I was drawn to a classic French Beef Tenderloin with Home-made French Fries and Béarnaise Sauce (€48).  The lean tenderloin was tender, succulent and nicely charred on the outside while the French fries were crispy and golden and the creamy béarnaise sauce was topped with fresh tarragon.

For dessert, I was tempted by the Chocolate Cake with Cacao Nibs and Chocolate Sorbet (€14).  The exquisite cake was rich and velvety with dark chocolate mousse packed between layers of chocolate sponge and topped with a thin gold crisp.  The chocolate sorbet with biscuit crumbs was a fresh and light accompaniment, much better than ice cream.

Shangri-La Paris is a real treat for foodies, whether it’s enjoying an elegant afternoon tea in La Bauhinia, an authentic taste of China in Shang Palace or a memorable two Michelin star dining experience in L’Abeille.

For more information, visit: www.shangri-la.com

Chérie City was invited by Shangri-La Paris

Photos by Chérie City and Shangri-La Paris

France, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Paris

A Luxury Stay at Shangri-La Paris

Shangri-La Paris is one of the city’s most refined new luxury hotels, combining French elegance with warm Asian hospitality.

The five star hotel occupies the former home of Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte, and was previously known as Palais Iéna.

Nestled discreetly in the prestigious, leafy 16th arrondissement, Shangri-La Paris is on the doorstep of cultural delights such as the Trocadero, Palais de Tokyo, Galliera Museum, Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet and the Avenue Wilson food market.

It’s also conveniently close to the Seine, Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysées and the designer stores on the chic Avenue Montaigne and Avenue George V.

The mansion house has been thoughtfully restored with many of it original features revived and the interiors have been designed by the inimitable Pierre-Yves Rochon.  The stately marble lobby is decorated with elegant chandeliers, Ming Dynasty vases, integrated monograms of Prince Roland Bonaparte and elaborate floral displays –  during our stay there were large vases of vibrant sunflowers.

The lobby leads seamlessly to the grand staircase and private salons where tea and exquisite cakes and are served in refined surroundings.

If there are no private events being held, it’s worth walking up the staircase for a peek at the opulent Louis XIV style Grand Salon with its gold-leaf appliqué walls, the mahogany panelled Salle à Manger and the feminine Salon de Famille with its ceiling painted with an orb of sphinxes and plants.  Close your eyes for a moment and it feels like the Château de Versailles has been transported to the heart of Paris.

The south-facing hotel features 101 rooms and suites, including the impressive Suite Shangri-La with its dazzling interiors and outdoor terrace boasting breath-taking panoramas of the city.  This summer, the hotel opened a brand new botanically inspired Garden Wing with 20 rooms and suites overlooking a perfectly landscaped garden and courtyard.

My beautiful Eiffel Premier room was very spacious and elegant, designed in an ‘Empire meets luxury minimalist’ style, in a palette of blue, white and ecru.  Its custom-made furnishings have luxurious textures such as silk-threaded wallpaper, soft velvet seats, crystal hardware and an elaborate patterned carpet.

For true authenticity, Pierre-Yves Rochon researched archive documents and photos of the original Palais Iéna interiors and translated the motifs and fixture for a contemporary luxury hotel.

Room features include a large LCD TV with cable and movie channels, executive writing desk complete with stationary drawer, a comfy seating area and free wifi.  At the entrance to the room is a separate drawer unit with a Nespresso machine, a kettle with a selection of fine teas, a well-stocked minibar and refined china cups and saucers.

I was welcomed with a fine bottle of Château Le Borderon Haut-Médoc 2009 and a fruit bowl, placed next to the prettiest flowers that brightened the room.

The highlight of staying in an Eiffel Premier Room is the expansive terrace with sun loungers and a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower.  What could be more magical than enjoying a glass of Champagne on the terrace while watching the evening Eiffel Tower light show?

The walk-in wardrobe is a wonderful feature, with extensive storage space, a floor-to-ceiling mirror and a vanity desk.  I made use of the complimentary shoe shine service, leaving my shoes in a basket in the wardrobe and returning later to find them looking fresh and renewed.

I found the king-size bed extremely comfortable, covered in sumptuous linen with a silk-trimmed throw and blue cushions.  At evening turndown, complimentary bottles of mineral water were placed by the bed with a Shangri-La  bookmark and the room was prepared for sleeping.

The elegant marble bathroom with heated floors features a rainfall shower, deep soaking tub, double sink, a mist-free mirror with flat-screen TV and a drawer filled with bathroom essentials.  There are plenty of large, fluffy towels, face cloths and plush embroidered bathrobes and slippers.

The bathroom is stocked with a generous amount of BVLGARI White Tea bathroom amenities plus bath salts and a reed diffuser with the Shangri-La signature scent – a blend of vanilla, sandal, musk, bergamot and tea spiced with ginger.

In the morning, we enjoyed breakfast served in La Bauhinia, the hotel’s stunning all-day dining restaurant.  To begin the day well, La Bauhinia offers a selection of substantial American, Chinese, healthy and Continental set breakfasts.  As this was a real foodie trip, I ordered lightly from the à la carte each morning and loved the fluffy pancakes with maple syrup, crepes with sugar and home-made apple compote topped with fresh berries.

I was kindly offered a newspaper or magazine to read and was brought some bircher muesli and fresh green apple as an amuse-bouche.  Breakfast service can often let down even the best of hotels, but at Shangri-La Paris, the efficient staff make it easy to start the day in a good mood.

Shangri-La hotels and resorts are known for their superior health and leisure facilities and Shangri-La Paris really wows with its stunning 15x6m indoor pool.  Not only does the pool look heavenly with its tiny mosaic tiles, grand pillars and hand-painted blue sky ceiling, but it has a great sense of calm and the water is just the right temperature.  I enjoyed a leisurely morning swim and took in some sun on the serene outdoor terrace with a pot of green tea.

I was kindly treated to a fantastic facial at the hotel’s chic CARITA spa, which left my skin glowing and deeply hydrated.  There is also an excellent fitness centre with state-of-the-art equipment.

Shangri-La Paris features three fabulous restaurants, an indoor and outdoor bar and intimate lounges.  La Bauhinia, with its glass cupola and Murano glass chandelier, serves afternoon tea, light bites and a dinner menu of French and Asian specialities.

The one Michelin star Shang Palace brings the art of Cantonese fine dining to Paris, serving authentic Chinese dishes and excellent set lunch menus with traditional dim sum, barbecued meats and comforting soups.

The hotel’s gastronomic, two Michelin star restaurant L’Abeille (paying homage to Napoleon’s bee emblem) is one of the city’s hottest fine dining restaurants and during our dinner there, it was a full house. Executive Chef Philippe Labbé creates exciting, innovative dishes using the freshest ingredients and the restaurant’s doors open to the garden in the warmer months.

Before dining at L’Abeille, we had a Champagne apéritif at the pop up Bollinger Champagne Bar on the first floor outdoor terrace.  Le Bar is a cosier spot with expertly-mixed cocktails served in an Empire style room with oil paintings of horses adorning the walls.

Service at Shangri-La Paris is at the typically high level that you can expect from the renowned hotel group and I found the staff friendly, meticulous and polite.  Head Concierge Tony Le Goff arranged for us to visit the beautiful Château Vaux le Vicomte and suggested we take a private tour of the Seine on a Venetian water taxi and lunch at the nearby Chalet des Iles.

Shangri-La Paris is an exquisite hotel that brings back to life the opulence of a 19th century palace, balanced with understated contemporary French and Asian design.  With a heavenly pool, indulgent food and magnificent views on the doorstep, it’s easy to get lost in the charming world of Shangri-La while the city awaits.

A double room at Shangri-La Hotel, Paris starts from 750 Euros per room per night (room only).  Price includes tax and service.  To book, visit: www.shangri-la.com or call 0800 028 3337.

Chérie City was invited by Shangri-La Paris

Photos by Chérie City and Shangri-La Paris

Hotels, Hotels - Design, Hotels - Luxury, Paris, Restaurants

Lunch At La Cuisine, Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris

Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris offers a new interpretation of luxury in the city, reviving a famous historic hotel and incorporating Philippe Starck’s artistic vision.  Located in a well-heeled part of town, the hotel is just a short walk from the Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe and the beautiful Parc Monceau.

The monumental five star Royal Monceau opened in 1928 and was reborn as part of the prestigious Raffles group with a brand new ‘Starck look’, in late 2010.  Over the years has attracted an impressive roll call of celebrities, artists and dignitaries including Coco Chanel, Josephine Baker, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill and more recently Robert De Niro, Madonna and Sofia Coppola.

The hotel’s investment in contemporary art and culture is unrivaled, with its own ‘Art District’ gallery hosting regular exhibitions and a special Art Concierge to connect guests with the Paris art scene.  There are a number of pieces by renowned artists throughout and it also runs the very cool blog, Art For Breakfast.

I visited Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris for a leisurely lunch at the main restaurant, La Cuisine, by Executive Chef Laurent André.  The Jura-born chef began his career under the tutelage of three Michelin star chef Alain Chapel, followed by a number of years with the legendary Alain Ducasse in Paris, London and Hong Kong.  He also oversees hotel’s Italian restaurant Il Carpaccio and lighter dishes at Le Bar Long.

La Cuisine continues the exquisite design of the Lobby with high ceilings leading the eye up towards a striking ceiling fresco named ‘Jardin à la française’ by Stéphane Calais.  The large dining room features central tables with cosy leather banquettes and semi-private tables closed off by sheer white curtains (a Philippe Starck signature).  The walls are adorned with intriguing contemporary artworks and the cabinets feature china plates decorated by celebrities and artists who have dined there.

We were seated at a table close to the attractive open kitchen surrounded by hundreds of Murano glass bottles, where we could observe chef Gabriel Grapin meticulously adding the finishing touches to the dishes.  We were promptly served freshly-baked bread and butter and a bottle of ice cold still water.  The lunchtime crowd was a mostly business types, friends catching up and a few families with young, well-behaved children.

I started with the Brittany Crab – light jelly, avocado cream and warm royal emulsion (€29).  The crab was served in a glass verrine and resembled a colourful, well-manicured garden.  The bottom layer of flaky, meaty crab was deliciously fresh and covered with smooth, cool and creamy avocado puree.  It was finished with crisp julienne vegetables including carrots, beetroot and yellow pepper with a thin apple fan.  The warm layered crab jelly and mousse was airy and souffléed with a strong seafood flavour and a light foam.

Steven ordered the Mackerel marinated in white wine with Pissaladiere garnish (€25).  The mackerel was presented two ways – shredded and mixed with a light dressing and topped with a garden of greenery, and cooked rare and served on a thin tart base with slithers of red pepper, onion and black olives.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to take photos at La Cuisine, so the images featured are examples of other dishes on the menu.

Before our main courses arrived, we were presented with a smart box of knives to choose from; we both opted for ‘The Porsche’, a light-weight, streamline steel knife that resembled a weapon from the Matrix (the desired Starck effect, of course).

I was tempted by the Beef Fillet from Normandy sprinkled with farm bacon – baked potatoes, romaine salad and souffléed potatoes (€46).  The thick, plump fillet of beef was succulent, lean and nicely charred on the outside with a juicy pink centre.  The baked potatoes were soft and flavoursome and topped with a puffed potato crisp and slim curls of bacon.  The romaine ‘salad’ was just two really tiny yet perfectly formed leaf and the rich jus finished the dish nicely.

Steven ordered the Roasted saddle of lamb from Lozère – shallots marmalade, stuffed macaronis pasta (€39).  The lamb was served perfectly pink and rolled with a rich herb stuffing.  A row of hearty macaronis were stuffed with bone marrow and the dish was finished with soft, braised fennel and a meaty jus.

I was delighted to see that desserts are by the ‘Picasso of pastry’ Pierre Hermé – a perfect match for the sophisticated luxury of La Cuisine.  I ordered Pierre Hermé’s signature cake, Ispahan – rose macaron biscuit, rose petal cream, fresh raspberries and lychees (€16).  The macaron-based cake was beautifully presented with delicate, fragrant and fresh flavours.  The macaron was topped with a rose petal and liquid sugar tears – simply stunning and very Parisian.

Steven went for the Baba au Rhum – brioche dough moistened with old dark agricultural rum and Chantilly cream (€16).  Our waitress drizzled the 15-year old aged rum over the Baba at the table and generously asked him to say when she had poured enough – a nice touch.  Pierre Hermé’s Baba is a classic done well and the rum had lots of character, complimenting the brioche well.

La Cuisine is the perfect spot in Paris for a chic, memorable lunch, as it offers innovative food in a relaxed, inspiring environment.  Staff are warm, friendly and attentive, providing exceptional yet unpretentious service.  In the warmer months, dine in the Terrace Garden under parasols around the glass pond directly above the swimming pool and spa.  Members and guests staying in the Presidential suites can hide away with a Havana or Montecristo cigar in the new private Viñales Club.

Until the end of December, renowned Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his team bring revolutionary Japanese gastronomy to La Cuisine with à la carte dishes and Omakase (the traditional Chef’s Choice tasting menu).  Le Bar Long is also serving Asian-inspired cocktails and sake specially imported from the Hokusetsu House brewery on the northern Japanese Isle of Sado.

Before leaving, linger a little longer and explore La Librairie des Arts bookshop offering limited edition books, artefacts. books, prints and jewellery.  Another must see at the hotel is Le Royal Eclaireur, a special outpost of Armand Hadida’s petite group of Paris concept stores selling niche designer pieces in an imaginative setting.

For more information and booking, visit: www.raffles.com/paris

Chérie City was a guest of Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris

All images by Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris